Breast Reconstruction Surgery Options After Breast Cancer

Posted February 10, 2022
Learn everything you need to know about breast reconstruction

What is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?

Breast reconstruction differs from traditional breast augmentation in that it specifically addresses reconstructing the breast tissue in women after being treated for breast cancer. According to, approximately 13\\% of women in the United States will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, and the vast majority of these women will need to have at least some portion of their breasts removed as part of their cancer treatment.

There are two main types of procedures used to remove the breast tissue in women dealing with breast cancer: A mastectomy, in which the entire breast is removed, and a lumpectomy, in which only a portion of the breast tissue is removed. Which procedure is best varies from patient to patient, and it’s a decision each woman will make with the guidance of her doctor. Either way, it’s likely that some sort of breast reconstruction surgery will be something that many women recovering from breast cancer will consider. 

Emotional Toll of a Mastectomy

Being faced with a life-threatening disease such as cancer can be a horrifying experience for anyone to go through. However, breast cancer comes with its own unique set of challenges, particularly in regards to the emotional toll having breast tissue removed has on many women. This post by the Regional Cancer Care Associates explains in depth just how negatively impacted many women are by the loss of their breast tissue, and how important it is to surround oneself with a positive support group while going through this process. 

Choosing to undergo breast reconstructive surgery is a personal decision that each individual woman must make for herself with the guidance and support of her physician, close friends, and family. Many women also choose to join support groups so that they can connect with other breast cancer survivors who can help them navigate the recovery period. 

Two Main Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Should a woman make the decision to have surgery to reconstruct her breasts, there are two main types of surgery to consider. 

  1. Flap Reconstruction - The first type of surgery is called “Flap Reconstruction” and it involves the surgeon using tissue from different parts of the body to create the new breasts. Depending on where you have excess tissue available, the surgeon can take the tissue from various regions of the body such as the lower abdominal area, the buttocks, the thighs, or even the back. There are many different types of flap reconstruction, and your surgeon will choose the method that best suits your body and particular needs. 
  • Implant Reconstruction - The second type of surgery is called “Implant Reconstruction”. In this procedure, instead of using your own body fat/tissue to create the breasts, the surgeon uses implants made of saline or silicone to recreate your breast tissue. 

Which type of procedure a woman chooses is relative to her specific case, and there are advantages and disadvantages to either approach. As Frank J. DellaCroce, M.D. of the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery points out, a flap procedure may be a more complicated surgery than implants, but they tend to perform better over time. Meanwhile, implant reconstruction may be a more straightforward surgical procedure, but there is the risk of additional problems that may need to be addressed in the future. Choosing which surgical route to take is made on a case-by-case basis, and there is no universal answer as to which one is better. 

Breast Reconstruction Consultation

When it comes to breast reconstruction surgery, there is a lot of information to take in - more than we can cover in one article. So here are a few other factors to consider that you can discuss with your physician:

  • Timing of reconstruction can be done during or after the mastectomy; this is decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • You may need several procedures/treatments in order to achieve final results.
  • If the cancer and subsequent treatment was only found in one breast, you may want to consider reconstruction in the other breast as well so that the breasts are similar in appearance.
  • Depending on the location of the cancer, the nipples of the breasts may be compromised during the mastectomy. If this is the case, make sure to discuss nipple reconstruction with your doctor. 

If you or someone you know is considering breast reconstruction surgery, make sure to speak to your doctor about all the various options so that you’re able to make a well-informed decision on how you’d like to proceed. And also please remember to take into account the mental, emotional, and psychological toll this can take on anyone going through this, and please seek support and guidance accordingly. 

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- BJ


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