What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is surgery to restore your breast shape after a mastectomy.
A mastectomy is an operation to remove the whole breast (or as much breast tissue as possible). Breast reconstruction can be done at the same time as a mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), a few months afterwards, or even years afterwards (delayed reconstruction).
The aim of reconstruction is to match your new breast to your other breast as closely as possible. This usually involves more than one operation. The first operation creates a breast shape. Then, further procedures may be done to improve the appearance of your breast and to achieve a good match with the other one. You may also be offered surgery to your other breast so they both match.
The new breast shape can be made with a breast implant, or by using tissue taken from another part of your body, or a combination of both. Your surgeon will advise you on the type of reconstruction that is 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 will usually have this done as a separate operation. It’s normally done a few months later when the new breast has settled 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.