Breast Reconstruction

What is breast reconstruction surgery?

With advances in breast reconstruction surgery, more than one-third of women undergoing breast removal have their breast(s) rebuilt. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2004 more than 62,930 women had breast reconstruction.

Even though medical, surgical, and radiation therapy treatments for breast cancer have increased the number of breast-sparing procedures available, some breast cancer patients may still require a mastectomy (removal of the breast or breasts). In addition, other women have their breast(s) removed due to other diseases.

Breast reconstruction surgery involves creating a breast mound that comes as close as possible to the form and appearance of the natural breast.

The goal of reconstructive surgery is to create a breast mound that matches the opposite breast and to achieve symmetry. If both breasts have been removed, the goal of breast reconstructive surgery is to create both breast mounds approximately the size of the patient's natural breasts.

What are the criteria for breast reconstruction surgery?

In general, all women undergoing a mastectomy are candidates for immediate or delayed breast reconstruction. However, there are criteria for selecting the best candidates for the procedure, including the following:

Other considerations include the following:

When is breast reconstruction surgery performed?

The patient is usually educated and counseled in breast reconstructive possibilities prior to mastectomy, so that she can make the decision for or against reconstruction before going into surgery.

Based on the personal medical history of each patient, a recommendation will be made for either of the following:

Possible complications associated with breast reconstructive surgery

Possible complications that may be associated with breast reconstruction may include, but are not limited to, the following:

The most common complication of breast reconstruction surgery is capsular contracture, which occurs if the scar or capsule around the implant begins to tighten. Occasionally, this (and other) complications are severe enough to require a second operation.

What are the different types of breast reconstruction surgery?

The two most effective approaches available for both monolateral (one breast) and bilateral (both breasts) reconstruction include the following:

About the procedure

Although each procedure varies, generally, breast reconstructive surgeries follow this process:

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