Return the shape of your breasts after a mastectomy
What is it?
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that restores the shape of your breasts after a mastectomy (surgery that removes your breasts to treat or prevent breast cancer).
One type of breast reconstruction uses breast implants — silicone devices filled with silicone gel or salt water (saline) — to reshape your breasts. Breast reconstruction with breast implants is a complex procedure performed by a plastic surgeon.
The breast reconstruction process can begin at the time of your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or it can be done later (delayed reconstruction). The breast reconstruction process usually requires two or more operations. You can also expect different appointments for two to three months after the initial surgery to expand and tighten the skin on your chest in preparation for the implant.
Breast reconstruction will not recreate the exact look and feel of your natural breasts. However, the shape of your new breasts can return to a silhouette similar to the one you had before the mastectomy.
What you can expect
Breast reconstruction begins with the placement of a breast implant or tissue expander, either at the time of the mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or during a later procedure (delayed reconstruction). Breast reconstruction often requires multiple operations, even if you choose immediate reconstruction.
You must maintain realistic expectations when anticipating the outcome of surgery. Breast reconstruction surgery offers many benefits, but it won’t make you look or feel exactly like you did before your mastectomy.
What breast reconstruction can do:
- Contour the chest
- Provide better symmetry to the breasts so they look similar under clothing or a bathing suit
- Help avoid the need for an external prosthesis inside the bra
What could breast reconstruction do:
- Improve your self-esteem and body image
- Partially erase the physical memories of your illness
- Require additional surgery to correct reconstructive problems
What breast reconstruction cannot do:
- Make you look exactly like before
- Make it possible for the reconstructed breast to have the same sensations as the normal breast
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