Checking your breasts after breast reconstruction

After breast reconstruction surgery, you will need to regularly check reconstructed breast and your natural breast for any abnormalities or changes.

Mammograms after breast reconstruction

Depending on the type of breast surgery, some people may need mammogram. A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast used to check or screen the breast for breast changes, including early signs of cancer.

You will not usually need to have mammograms of the reconstructed breast after a mastectomy. You will be offered regular mammograms of the other breast. If you have breast-conserving surgery followed by breast reconstruction, you will continue to have mammograms on that breast.

You will not need to have any further screening tests after risk-reducing breast surgery.

Breast implants may hide part of the breast during a mammogram. But experts believe that mammograms are still useful to check breast tissue that covers the implant. Your doctor or breast care nurse will also tell you how to check for signs the cancer might have come back (recurrence).

Woman having mammogram

Checking your breasts

You cannot develop breast cancer in any fat or muscle moved into your breast from another part of your body. But there is a small chance of breast cancer developing in any breast tissue left under the skin or in the skin left behind.

So, it is important to continue checking your natural breast and your reconstructed breast for any abnormal areas or changes. Your doctor will also regularly examine your breasts after your reconstruction.

After risk-reducing breast surgery there will be a small amount of breast tissue remaining so you should still check your breast area regularly.

It may take time to get used to the look and feel of your reconstructed breast. Ask your nurse to show you how to check your breasts. They can also give you leaflets to remind you what to do.

How to check your breasts

Things to look out for include:

  • breast tissue that feels different – for example, harder or tighter
  • anything that feels different in your reconstructed breast – for example, feeling swollen or firmer, harder or tighter
  • a change in the appearance or shape of a breast (reconstructed or natural)
  • a change in the skin’s texture – for example, puckering, dimpling, a rash or thickening
  • a lump or lumpy area you can feel in the breast or armpit
  • a change in the appearance or colour of the breast
  • a rash or change along the scar line
  • swelling of the upper arm
  • discharge from the nipple (if not removed)
  • a rash or swelling on the nipple or the areola (if not removed)
  • pain or discomfort.

These changes may not be caused by cancer. But it is important to tell your nurse or doctor if you find anything that worries you. They will examine you and arrange tests to check for anything unusual. These can include an ultrasound, MRI scan or biopsy.

About our information

  • 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, Professor Mike Dixon, Professor of Surgery and Consultant Breast Surgeon.

    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.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

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We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

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Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 November 2022
Next review: 01 November 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.