About breast reconstruction after breast-conserving surgery

Most women do not need breast reconstruction after an operation to remove part of their breast (breast-conserving surgery). But if you have a larger amount of breast tissue removed, you may be offered reconstructive surgery.

This can improve the appearance of your breasts or make them look more even. It can prevent problems developing later on with the appearance of the breast.

Breast-conserving surgery and partial breast reconstruction can be done:

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 and these checks show there may be some remaining cancer cells in the breast, you may need more surgery.

Possible operations to improve the appearance of the breasts after breast-conserving surgery include:

Breast reconstruction with LD mini flap side view

Breast reduction and reshaping

Breast reduction and reshaping may be an option for you if you have larger breasts and need to have part of your breast removed for cancer treatment.

After the cancer is removed, the remaining breast tissue is reshaped to create a smaller breast. You can have surgery to make your other breast smaller so your breasts match. This is usually done at the same time but may be done as a second operation.

Breast reduction and reshaping can:

  • allow women with larger cancers or women with large areas of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) to have breast-conserving surgery
  • increase the chance of removing the cancer completely at the first operation, compared with a standard wide local excision
  • reduce problems, such as changes to breast size, that are more likely in women with large breasts who have radiotherapy
  • treat certain problems, such as shoulder and back pain, which are common in women who have larger breasts.

Breast volume replacement

Another option is for the surgeon to put more tissue into the treated breast. This is called a breast volume replacement. This can be done:

  • by using a flap of tissue from another part of the body
  • with lipomodelling.

These procedures are only available in some breast units.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our breast cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

    European Society for Medical Oncology. Primary breast cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of oncology 26 (supplement 5): v8–v30. 2015.

    Morrow M, et al. Chapter 79: malignant tumors of the breast. DeVita, Hellman and Rosenberg’s cancer: principals and practice of oncology (10th edition). Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. 2014.

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Early and locally advanced breast cancer: diagnosis and management. July 2018.

    Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. SIGN 134. Treatment of primary breast cancer: a national clinical guideline. September 2013.


  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Rebecca Roylance, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.


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