Breast Reconstruction Timing

BrittB on 14 Oct 2010 at 9:35am

It's breast cancer awareness month, yet at RealSelf we make it a year-round goal of connecting women with medical experts and with each other especially as it relates to breast reconstruction. As reflected in our breast reconstruction Q&A, Women who do battle are often left with questions and feelings of how to cope with the physical and emotional challenges of body image.breast cancer reconstructive surgery questions

They want answers from doctors like What Does a Reconstructed Breast Look Like or Are There Nipple Implants for Breast Reconstruction?

A key question is, when is the right time to undergo reconstructive surgery.

Many of the plastic surgeons on RealSelf recommend having reconstructive surgery at the same time as the mastectomy due to  the effectiveness of healing time and psychological advantages. The relative ease of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is also due to the patient already being under anesthesia, thus eliminating the need for a second surgery.

However, doctors on RealSelf remind patients there is no rush for reconstruction immediately after a mastectomy, “all reconstructions can be done on a delayed basis,” wrote Seattle Plastic Surgeon Richard P. Rand, . “This delayed treatment has the advantage of allowing the tissues to heal, the dust to settle, and any pathology issues to be reviewed and discussed especially when it comes to the possible need for radiation treatments or chemotherapy.”

Regardless of what a patient chooses, there are many issues to discuss with their physician when considering simultaneous surgeries:

  • Are you in good enough health to undergo a combined procedure?
  • Do you smoke, or intend to quit?
  • Do you want your own tissue (stomach/back/buttock) or a breast implant or a combination of both?
  • Can your body provide sufficient tissue for reconstruction?
  • Will you need radiation after the mastectomy?

There is no right or wrong choice, any surgery is a personal decision, which should only be made by the patient with the aid and knowledge of their physician, based on what is best for their personal and emotional well being.

More on RealSelf

Breast reconstruction stories are routinely posted by RealSelf community members