Reconstruction after breast-conserving surgery

Most women don’t need breast reconstruction after an operation to remove part of their breast (breast-conserving surgery). But, 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 can 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 immediate reconstruction, there’s a chance you may need 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 reshaping (mastopexy)
  • partial breast reconstruction using your own tissue (mini-flap reconstruction)
  • lipomodelling to increase the size of the treated breast and to fill any dents.

Breast reduction and reshaping

These procedures 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 to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the remaining breast tissue.

Reconstruction using your own tissue (mini-flap)

If you need a larger area of your breast removed, you may be able to have surgery to fill out the breast and restore its natural shape, using tissue from another part of your body. This is done using a muscle from the back called the latissimus dorsi  or with skin and fat from the back or side of the chest. You have this operation carried out through a cut in the skin, either under the armpit, at the side of the breast or on the back to avoid more scars on your breast.

Back to Types of breast reconstruction

Surgery to the other breast

Some women have an operation on their natural breast so that the reconstructed and natural breasts look as similar as possible.