Breast Reconstruction Options
Emese Kalnoki-Kis, MD, is a plastic surgeon at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.
Question: I've been diagnosed with breast cancer and I am considering a mastectomy. What are my breast-reconstruction options?
Answer: Reconstructive surgery is performed after a woman undergoes either complete removal (mastectomy) or partial removal of a breast for cancer or suspicious areas. The goal is to rebuild a patient's breasts so that they look as they did before surgery. There are many new and improved techniques.
Immediate reconstruction is done during the same operative time as the mastectomy. There are many advantages to this, including the comforting feeling that a reconstructive plan is under way. A reconstruction, however, often is not complete after only one surgery. Additional "operations may be necessary to perfect the result. In delayed reconstruction, the rebuilding is done months or years after the initial mastectomy (or partial mastectomy). In cases where treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy are needed, breast reconstruction is often delayed until these treatments are completed.
There are many personal and emotional factors that come into the decision-making process. A patient's overall health, size of her breasts, and stage of her cancer all come into play when discussing options.
Reviewed October 2010