How often are surgeons able to make the breasts look identical during the first surgery following a mastectomy? What is the realistic number of surgeries that will be needed on average?
What Are the Long-term Expectations of a Breast Reconstructions After Cancer Surgery?
Doctor Answers (6)
I can tell you that in a 100% of the time, no two breasts will look exactly the same. However, breast reconstruction can make a breast look in most cases very good.
Expectations After Breast Reconstruction
Depending on your anatomy (such weight, chest dimensions), health status (such smoking history?), and cancer treatment plan (did or will you require radiation therapy?), your surgeon will recommend several reconstructive options. Although your plastic surgeon will strive for the best cosmetic results, please remember that he/she is reconstructing something from nothing. So there is a saying in breast surgery - we strive to achieve close sisters - but never identical twins. Also remember that your breasts prior to breast cancer were unlikely identical as well. The good news however is reconstruction is covered by your insurance. And studies show that the overwhelmingly majority of women were very pleased with their experience with reconstruction. Finally, reconstruction is a process and requires at least 2 to 3 steps to achieve the final result. Please visit our website to learn more about your options.
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Achieving symmetry after breast reconstruction
While the goal of breast reconstruction is to achieve symmetry between both breasts after reconstruction, it is rarely going to be perfect. Many factors will play a role on how many surgeries will be necessary and how close the two breasts will look. These factors may include your anatomy (most women are not symmetrical pre-operatively, and you may require a symmetry procedure on your non-cancer breast), the type of mastectomy performed, whether the reconstruction is an immediate (done at the same time as the mastectomy) or delayed (done months to years after the mastectomy) reconstruction, whether you have had or will have radiation therapy as part of your cancer treatment, and also the type of reconstruction you choose (implant-based or using your own tissue).
I would recommend that you discuss these issues with your board-certified plastic surgeon. He or she should be able to guide you as to what are realistic expectations considering your individual situation. Good luck!
Expectations for breast reconstruction
No two women are identical and no two breasts are truly mirror images. While it is always the goal to reconstruct a breast to match the opposite one, there are a large number of variables that must be taken into account. Often a lift, reduction, or augmentation of the opposite breast is beneficial. Touch-ups to the reconstructed breast may include fat grafts under local anesthesia or other tweaks. There is also the type of mastectomy to consider, with a trend now to skin and nipple-sparing methods.