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Breast reconstruction is surgery to restore your breast shape after a mastectomy|.
A mastectomy is the removal of the whole breast (or as much breast tissue as possible). Reconstruction can be done at the same time as your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), a few months, or even years afterwards (delayed reconstruction). Breast reconstruction usually involves more than one operation.
The aim of reconstruction is to match the new breast to your other breast as closely as possible. The new breast shape can be made with a breast implant|, by using tissue| taken from another part of your body, or by a combination of both. Your surgeon will advise you on the type of reconstruction that’s most suitable for you.
Most women who have a mastectomy have their nipple removed| as part of the operation. If you decide to have a new nipple made you would usually have this done as a separate operation a few months after the surgery to create your new breast shape. This allows the reconstructed breast to settle into its final shape.
Women who have part of their breast removed (lumpectomy|) usually don’t need a full breast reconstruction. But, if the appearance of the breast isn’t right after a lumpectomy, some of the techniques described in this booklet can be used to help improve the breast shape.
Content last reviewed: 1 June 2011
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