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Reconstructive Surgery After Mastectomy

Rutuja Jathar Apr 7, 2019
Reconstructive surgery can be a real blessing for those who have undergone mastectomy. Read on to know more about this surgery.
Mastectomy is the term used for total or partial removal of breasts. Mastectomy is done in order to prevent breast cancer. Men and women who are at higher risk get this operation performed as a preventive step (Prophylaxis).
So, in a way we can say that mastectomy is a way of preventing breast cancer. When the small amount of breast tissues are removed then it is also called lumpectomy where only the tissues surrounding the tumor and the tumor itself is removed.
These both types of surgeries come under the category of 'local therapy' and they are used as an alternative for the regular synthetic chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, etc.
Today, the decision to perform mastectomy is taken by considering several factors like number of lesions, breast size, availability of appurtenant radiation, will of the patient and aggression of the cancer. When one or both the breasts are totally or partially removed, almost all women prefer reconstructive surgery.
This surgery after mastectomy can be really helpful for the women to regain their confidence as well as get healthy breasts.

Breast Reconstructive Surgery

Breast reconstructive surgery rebuilds the breast and helps it to get to the original size. It can reconstruct the areola and nipple as well. This surgery is very important compared to the one after lumpectomy, as only some part of the breast is removed during lumpectomy. The surgery is performed by plastic surgeons.
Every year, more than 250,000 American women get diagnosed with breast cancer, and reconstructive surgery after mastectomy provides them with many more choices to face and reduces the emotional and physical trauma of the breast cancer.
There are many more reasons for women to go in for this kind of surgery, but the most common is to regain the original shape of the breast and a balanced look.
Well, reconstructive surgery will not provide the women with the original breast and same original functions, but it will be a lookalike of the original one. It will surely be a great boost to the self-esteem of these women.

Time frame

Breast reconstructive surgery is performed in two ways. One is immediate surgery, and the other is delayed surgery. Immediate surgery is, performed right away after the mastectomy and in this way, the chest tissues are not harmed by the radiation therapy and scarring.
The delayed breast reconstructive surgery is performed later and it is a great option for those who need radiation therapy after the mastectomy.
Decision of having the surgery depends on many factors like the stage of the cancer, overall growth of the patient, amount of breast tissues available, whether the surgery is performed on one or both the breasts and the desire of the person regarding the look of the breasts. Other things that can be considered before breast reconstructive surgery are:
► Many women don't feel like having one more surgery while they are coping with the cancer. So, they decide to wait before the surgery. Most of the time, women are not sure that they will get the desired results after the reconstructive surgery and so they face the dilemma.
► Immediate surgery may cause necrosis, cell death or transplanted fats and in such case, more than one surgery can be needed. This whole process can damage the shape of the new breast, but there are 50-50 chances of any such incidence.
► Healing, done by this surgery can be damaged by several other therapies like chemotherapy, radiation and also smoking, drinking alcohol, diseases like diabetes and several medicines as well.


Results and effects of the surgery depend and vary as per the individual cases and the type of surgery the patient prefers. There are two basic types available. They are the flap reconstructive surgery and the implant reconstructive surgery.

Flap Reconstructive Surgery

Flap reconstructive surgery is preferred by the women who want their breast to look and feel like the natural breasts. There are four reconstructive surgeries that make the breast mound by using the existing body tissues. These four surgeries are DIEP flap, TRAM flap, gluteal flap and latissimus dorsi flap.
Downfall points of the flap surgery are - delay in the healing period and scarring on both locations of the flap donor and the breast mound. Flap reconstructive surgery is not recommended for those who have very large or very thin breasts.
It offers absolutely no guarantee whatsoever about the feel and the texture of the new breast mound. This surgery only gives a woman the satisfaction that she missed while living with only one or no breasts at all.

Implant Reconstructive Surgery

Implant reconstructive surgery is done using silicon breast implant or saline breast implant. It takes less healing time and provides the patient with attractive shape of the breast mounds. The surgery will not give the exact shape like the natural one and many women prefer to re-size their natural breast to match the size of the reconstructed one.
Implant reconstructive surgery requires multiple visits to the doctor to stretch the skin and make room for the breast mound. This revisiting can be really inconvenient and troublesome for most of the women. Women who wish to have nipple and areola, need to undergo a secondary reconstructive surgery.
This surgery doesn't provide the natural feel of the breasts but it certainly restores the self-esteem and sense of completeness of a woman.
Breast reconstructive surgery after mastectomy can be very beneficial for the women to restore and regain their self-confidence and femininity. The only thing that is needed is the love and support from friends and family.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.