Five things to know when considering Breast Reconstruction

To reconstruct or not to reconstruct, that is the question! This decision should be made after thorough discussions (emphasis on the pleural in discussions) between you and your plastic surgeon. After all, there is a significant difference in the mastectomy recovery process if reconstruction is in the works. Here are 5 things to know before making your decision.

1) Breast reconstruction is an optional process. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this decision has to be made by you. Your partner and support system can provide input, but at the end of the day it’s you undergoing surgery and the disruption in life that comes along with the recovery and finding your new baseline. Breast reconstruction is not a walk in the park, there are usually hiccoughs that occur along the journey and the recovery process is extensive no matter which reconstruction option you choose.  

2) Breast reconstruction is a multi-staged process. This means there will be multiple surgeries spaced several months apart. If chemotherapy or radiation are part of your treatment plan the entire process can actually take over a year. The time and travel  commitment to and from your surgeon’s office and your personal stamina for surgery are important considerations in this process.

3) The major goal of breast reconstruction is to have a normal appearance in clothing. That can be a tough pill to swallow. All of that surgical pain and recovery to simply achieve normalcy in clothing. When nude, there will always be scars and asymmetries that are visible. Some of these asymmetries can be addressed with additional surgery, and some cannot. A scar will result any time there is an incision made on the skin. Knowing this expectation up front is key. It is unrealistic to expect reconstructed breast mounds to mirror your natural pre-mastectomy breasts.

4) Asymmetries are present throughout the reconstruction process. Several operations may be needed to address asymmetries following the “final reconstruction”, including surgery to the non-cancerous breast if your mastectomy was one sided. Your appetite for surgery should be considered prior to committing to reconstruction. The degree of asymmetry your and your surgeon are willing to accept will directly affect the number of surgeries required to achieve your goals.

5) No matter which method of reconstruction you and your surgeon proceed with, there is always a risk that the reconstruction can fail and a secondary reconstruction plan needs to be created. This is not everyone’s experience, but it does happen and being aware of this possibility is an important piece to understand.  

The decision of whether or not to move forward with breast reconstruction is a big one, knowing these five key points can help set expectations when moving forward and build your confidence for the journey by arming yourself with knowledge and information out of the gate. 

You’ve got this!

Back to blog