Immediate breast reconstruction is done, or at least started, at the same time as the mastectomy. The benefit of this is that breast skin is often preserved, which can produce better-looking results. Women also do not have to go without the shape of a breast.
While the first step in reconstruction is often the major one, many steps are often needed to get the final shape. If you’re planning to have immediate reconstruction, be sure to ask what will need to be done afterward and how long it will take.
Delayed breast reconstruction means that the rebuilding is started later. This may be a better choice for some women who need radiation to the chest area after the mastectomy. Radiation therapy given after breast reconstruction surgery can cause problems like delayed healing and scarring.
Decisions about reconstructive surgery also depend on many personal factors such as:
Your overall health
- The stage of your breast cancer (how much there is and if it has spread)
- The size of your natural breast
- The amount of tissue available (for example, very thin women may not have enough extra body tissue to make flap grafts)
- Whether you want reconstructive surgery on both breasts
- Your insurance coverage and related costs for the unaffected breast
- The type of procedure you are thinking about having
- The size of the implant or reconstructed breast
- Your desire to match the look of the other breast