Do I need to decide right away if I want breast reconstruction?
Not at all. Breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as your mastectomy, but many women choose to wait for months or even years before pursuing reconstructive breast surgery. There are many factors to consider when it comes to properly timing your reconstruction, including your personal preferences, your overall health and existing lifestyle, and whether further cancer treatments are recommended.
Will my nipples need reconstruction too?
Newer surgical techniques do try to preserve the natural nipple whenever possible. However, a nipple-sparing mastectomy isn’t an option for every woman, and nipple reconstruction may be recommended in those cases. Nipples can be reconstructed with the help of a skin graft, then tattooed a darker shade to match the same coloration as your natural breast. You can also choose to have nipple tattoos rather than three-dimensional nipples, and this can be performed after healing from your reconstruction. Some women even visit a skilled tattoo artist for this purpose.
Is reconstruction ever necessary after a lumpectomy?
There is a growing trend toward shrinking breast tumors as much as possible to allow for treatment via lumpectomy rather than a full mastectomy, allowing women to preserve as much natural breast tissue as possible. However, larger tumors can leave indentations or other contour irregularities after removal, which can be improved with the help of reconstruction techniques. The emphasis at our practice is on oncoplastic surgery, the process of removing cancer while simultaneously reshaping the breast for a better final result. In some cases, the impact of a lumpectomy may require a small implant to correct it.
What will my breasts look like after reconstruction?
In the past, it was often said that the goal of breast reconstruction was to create a breast shape that looked natural under clothing, implying that was the best result patients could hope to accomplish. Today, however, standards are held much higher for reconstructive breast surgery, and the emphasis is on creating results that are as natural-looking as possible. That said, it is still important to have realistic expectations about your procedure. The reconstructed breast may always look slightly different from your natural breast, and the appearance of mastectomy or lumpectomy scars, while they should fade and improve considerably over time, do not fully disappear.