What Are the Long-term Expectations of a Breast Reconstructions After Cancer Surgery?

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?

Doctor Answers 6

Breast reconstruction

This depends on the breast size, shape and symmetry to begin with of course.  Also the nature of the surgery being performed dictates how much tissue disturbance there is before the Plastic Surgery has in role in the the procured.  An example would be and axillary dissection on one side and not the other.  The complete changes to inside of the breast pocket if you will.  The natural borders of the breast will be invariably changed.  the other factor is the more stress put on the mastectomy skin the more difficulty  with skin problems is possible.  All in all the first operation is to perform a stable, viable reconstruction, and avoid mastectomy skin necrosis.

Breast reconstruction

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.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

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.

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 210 reviews

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!

Anureet K. Bajaj, MD
Oklahoma City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

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.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Breast Rconstruction

The avarage number of surgeries for breast reconstruction to achieve a close symmetry is 3 surgeries

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.