There are many things that will help determine whether or not you will be able to have breast replacement surgery after a mastectomy. This includes what type of tumor you had, where it was, and how far it had spread. After a mastectomy, some breast tissue may be left and this will also be very important. For instance, in case of a modified or simple mastectomy, where the pectoralis muscle is spared, plenty of fat and skin will be left, making it very easy to reconstruct the breast. If you have had a radical mastectomy, however, it will be a lot more complicated.
One of the key decisions that you and your surgeon have to make, is whether or not you will be able to have an immediate reconstruction, which means it is done at the same time as the mastectomy. If this is not possible and it has be delayed, you will need to determine together whether this delay is for a few days, or rather weeks, months, or even years. A surgeon will always consider the simplest procedure first, but you also have to give your consent for that.
Immediate Breast Replacement
Whenever possible, a surgeon will recommend immediate breast replacement. This means that, when your breast is removed, it will instantly be rebuilt, or at least the beginnings of this will commence. This can be done by inserted a medical balloon, stretching what tissue is remaining, by placing a saline or silicone-filled implant prosthesis, or by performing tissue transfer. There are some key advantages to this procedure, including:
- You will save a lot of time and have far fewer operations.
- It has a positive impact on psychology because you don’t have to mourn the loss of your breast or breasts.
- Some women do not experience the sense of loss at all.
- You can get on with your life almost straight away.
After an immediate breast reconstruction, you may still need a few other procedures. This will ensure the shape is correct and that the implant is suitable. The other breast may need to be changed for greater symmetry, or perhaps an areola or nipple will need to be constructed. However, those are relatively minor procedures.
Because this type of procedure happens immediately after the mastectomy, being included in the same procedure, the anesthesia and operating time is increased, which is somewhat of a disadvantage. However, since it does mean there are less operations overall, this is mitigated. Your physician will have to do more work, however, because they will have to monitor how the mastectomy site is healing, while also monitoring how the newly restored breast is progressing.
Immediate reconstruction is a very valuable option. That said, it is not always suitable. If too much tissue had to be removed, the cancer had spread significantly, or you are of poor general health, then this is an impractical option. Your surgeon will discuss this with you, however, so that you can make an informed decision.