For women undergoing a mastectomy, there are a number of options in breast reconstruction today. From a choice between implants and natural tissue flaps to the timing of the surgery, the decisions can be overwhelming. When it comes to the timing of breast reconstruction, there are a number of factors that might affect whether you pursue reconstruction right away or delay your reconstruction for a period of time.
There are three basic choices when considering breast reconstruction:
- Immediate Reconstruction – typically performed at the same time as the mastectomy
- Delayed Reconstruction – performed at a later date, usually after cancer (chemotherapy or radiation) treatment
- Delayed-Immediate Reconstruction – a staged approach that usually involves immediate placement of a tissue expander or implant, which will be removed at a later date and replaced with a more permanent reconstruction procedure
There are pros and cons to all of these procedures, and a number of factors that might go into determining which approach will work best for your personal situation.
There are a number of benefits to immediate reconstruction, including the ability to have both breast tissue removal and reconstruction in a single surgery. Many women also experience the psychological benefits of waking up from breast cancer surgery with their breasts intact. However, this approach is not usually recommended for women needing radiation after surgery, since this treatment can affect the success of the reconstruction procedure.
This approach is usually recommended for women that will require additional cancer treatment after breast surgery. Post-surgical treatment is usually recommended for large cancers or those that have spread to the lymph nodes. When delayed reconstruction is the recommended approach, reconstruction is typically performed 6-12 months after the original procedure.
This relatively new approach to breast reconstruction is often recommended for women who might need radiation after surgery, to prepare the breast for surgery later on. An expander or implant is placed in the breast pocket to preserve the breast skin and shape of the breast. Once it is determined whether radiation is required after the final assessment of the breast tissue removed at the time of the mastectomy, the definitive reconstruction can be coordinated with the radiation treatment. The advantage to this procedure is it allows for the breast skin to be preserved until reconstruction, ensuring a more natural look to the breast after reconstruction.
A breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming enough, but then you are faced with a myriad of decisions regarding your treatment. Dr. Andrews understands the stress and fear that commonly accompanies this time, and will work with you to help you make the choices that are right for your individual situation. To learn more about breast reconstruction surgery, contact Dr. Andrews at Dr. Andrews Plastic Surgery at 319-800-6877.