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Breast reconstruction is a complex decision for women to make following the loss of a breast due to cancer or other diseases. Breast reconstruction can improve a woman’s self-confidence and self- image resulting in an improved quality of life. While breast reconstruction can result in a breast that looks natural in appearance and feel, it will never exactly replicate the look and appearance of the breast that was removed. The loss of a breast is an emotional process that takes time for many women to accept. Please talk freely with your physician to discuss your concerns and expectations. It may take some time before a woman is ready to begin the reconstruction process. It is helpful for women to have a positive attitude and realistic expectations when considering breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction can be immediate or delayed depending on several factors.

Breast reconstruction for partial or complete loss of the breast can be done using a variety of plastic surgery techniques. Breast reconstruction generally requires several procedures that are performed as staged procedures. Flap techniques use a woman’s own tissues-skin, fat, and muscle. Flap techniques will leave a scar at the donor site usually on the abdomen or back. Flap techniques may result in a more natural feeling breast. Tissue expansion is used to slowly stretch a woman’s skin and muscle to allow placement of an implant. Tissue expansion usually allows for an easier recovery when compared to flap techniques. Tissue expansion is a more lengthy reconstruction process occurring over several months.

Often surgery on the contra- lateral or opposite breast will be done to improve symmetry to better match size and breast position. However, perfect symmetry between breasts is unlikely. Nipple-areola reconstruction can be done as well.

Breast reconstruction is not without complications so it is important to discuss the surgical options to include any risks or potential complications. Breast reconstruction is a highly individualized procedure. Breast reconstruction improves appearance under most clothing and in swimsuits.

Women who are considering breast reconstruction ideally should be in good health and do not have medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac problems, obesity, or other illnesses that impair healing. It is important for woman to be non-smokers as smokers often have wound healing complications.

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