If you need to have a larger amount of breast tissue removed, you may be offered reconstructive surgery to improve the appearance or symmetry of your breasts.
Breast-conserving surgery and reconstruction may be done as one operation (immediate reconstruction) or as two separate operations (delayed reconstruction). As with any breast cancer operation, it is very important to be sure that all the cancer has been removed from the breast. This is done by carefully checking the tissue taken from the breast after the operation. If you have an immediate reconstruction, there’s a chance you may need to have further surgery if these checks show there may be some cancer cells remaining in the breast.
Possible operations to improve the appearance of the breasts after part of a breast has been removed include:
Breast reduction and reshaping (mammaplasty)
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This may be an option if you have larger breasts and need to have part of your breast removed. After the tumour is removed, the remaining breast tissue is reshaped to create a smaller breast. You can have surgery to make your other breast smaller (breast reduction) at the same time, so that your breasts match in size.
After the operation you will need radiotherapy to the reshaped breast. This is given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the remaining breast tissue.
Reconstruction using your own tissue (mini-flap)
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If you need surgery to remove a larger area of your breast, you may be able to have an operation to fill out the breast and restore its natural shape, using some tissue from another part of your body. This is usually done using a muscle from the back called the latissimus dorsi.
This operation is carried out through a small cut in the skin, either under the armpit or at the side of the breast, to avoid more scars on your breast.
Sometimes the surgeon will just use a flap of skin and fat (no muscle) to reshape the breast.