October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so in honor of this we’re providing answers to some common questions about the timing of breast reconstruction. Many women wonder when the best time is to undergo reconstruction following a mastectomy. In addition, women who underwent a mastectomy but did not opt for breast reconstruction at the time may wonder if they are still candidates for the procedure.
In general, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir of Mosharrafa Plastic Surgery recommend having breast reconstruction done at the same time as your mastectomy. However, there may be circumstances in which it would be preferable to delay your reconstruction. We recommend discussing your options with both your breast cancer surgeon and your reconstructive surgeon to decide on a plan.
Benefits of Immediate Breast Reconstruction
There are many benefits to having a breast reconstruction procedure done at the same time as your mastectomy. These include:
- Shorter scars
- More skin can be spared
- The reconstruction can be completed at the same time as the mastectomy, so you wake up after surgery with already reconstructed breasts
Immediate full reconstruction is not always possible, however. If you require radiation treatments after your mastectomy, it is usually advised to wait until these treatments are complete before undergoing breast reconstruction. In this case, an approach called “delayed-immediate” can be taken.
What Is Delayed-Immediate Breast Reconstruction?
Delayed-immediate reconstruction, also called staged reconstruction, is often recommended for women who are likely to need radiation treatments following their mastectomy. In this type of breast reconstruction, a device called a “tissue expander” is placed during the mastectomy, then the full reconstruction procedure is done some months later.
A “tissue expander” is used to stretch the skin so that there is a sufficient amount for reconstruction at a later date. It is a device that can be gradually filled over the course of several months, after which it is replaced by an implant.
Can You Have Breast Reconstruction Later?
Some women decide against having breast reconstruction done, for various reasons. However, if you decide you do want to have your breasts reconstructed at a later date, it is still possible, even years later.
We completely understand that a diagnosis of breast cancer is stressful and overwhelming, and women may not even want to think about breast reconstruction options on top of everything else they have to worry about.
Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will counsel you about your best options and walk you through the process, but if you decide to wait to make a decision, you will not be barred from having the procedure done in the future. In addition, if you had your mastectomy years ago and are just now considering breast reconstruction, it is not too late.
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We serve patients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and other nearby areas of Arizona.
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Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir understand that you have made an important decision by choosing to undergo plastic surgery, and they are committed to delivering the exceptional results you expect and deserve.