Reconstruction of a breast that has been removed due to cancer or other disease is one of the most rewarding surgical procedures available today. New medical techniques and devices have made it possible for surgeons to create a breast that can come close in form and appearance to matching a natural breast. Frequently, reconstruction is possible immediately following breast removal (mastectomy), so the patient wakes up with a breast mound already in place, having been spared the experience of seeing herself with no breast at all. Tissue may be taken from the abdomen and tunneled to the breast or surgically transplanted to form a new breast mound. Follow-up procedures may be necessary. Most breast reconstruction involves a series of procedures that occur over time. Usually, the initial reconstructive operation is the most complex. Follow-up surgery may be required to replace a tissue expander with an implant or to reconstruct the nipple and the areola. Many surgeons recommend an additional operation to enlarge, reduce, or lift the natural breast to match the reconstructed breast.
Chances are your reconstructed breast may feel firmer and look rounder or flatter than your natural breast. It may not have the same shape as your breast before mastectomy, nor will it exactly match your opposite breast. But these differences will mostly be apparent only to you. For most patients who have a mastectomy, breast reconstruction dramatically improves their appearance and quality of life following surgery.
As with all surgical procedures, you should discuss all potential risks and benefits with your surgeon.