Women usually opt to have breast reconstruction surgery after having received a lumpectomy (partial removal of the breast) or mastectomy (complete removal of the breast) which is usually as part of cancer treatment. The treatment only aims to restore the look of the breast, and will not restore breast function or sensation.
Breast Reconstruction: Am I suitable?
Reconstruction therapy can sometimes be carried out at the same time as the mastectomy. It should not be carried out if the patient is still undergoing radiotherapy.
Your consultation with your surgeon will determine whether having breast reconstruction surgery will give you the results you are expecting depending on the type and stage of your cancer, and other treatments you are likely to need.
Breast Reconstruction: What do I have to do to prepare?
This surgery is often carried out on women who have suffered from breast cancer and have had to have a mastectomy.
Breast Reconstruction: What’s the treatment like?
There are two types of breast reconstruction. The first (prosthetic) uses a synthetic implant, which is usually expandable so the skin can gradually stretch as the implant gets larger.
The second (autogenous) uses fat and muscle taken from elsewhere in the body (usually the back, buttocks, thighs and abdomen) and moulded into a breast shape under the skin. Breast reconstruction offers the most natural results, but is the more serious operation of the two.
Breast Reconstruction: What about after?
If an autogenous breast reconstructive operation is carried out, there may be some scarring on other parts of the body from where the fat or/and muscle was removed to make the new breast.
After the operation, the breast is likely to change in size and shape. When this has settled down, the surgeon can perform nipple reconstruction.
If breast reconstructive surgery is carried out a while after the mastectomy, it may result in a larger scar than if the surgery is carried out immediately.
Breast Reconstruction: Are there any risks or side effects?
If breast reconstruction is undergone immediately after the mastectomy and there are any complications during the surgery, it may result in you having to delay any chemotherapy treatment needed as it prevents the ability of the body to heal itself. Because chemotherapy works best within the first six weeks of cancer treatment, any delay may make the chemotherapy less effective when it can finally be administered.
Breast Reconstruction: What will it cost me?
Breast reconstruction after cancer treatment is offered to all patients on the NHS. However, it is possible to have your breast reconstruction done privately. It generally costs from £3,000 to £5,000 depending on what type of procedure you get done.