Breast Reconstruction Surgery after Mastectomy

Breast Reconstruction Surgery after Mastectomy

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Reconstructive surgeons operating on a patient.

At MSK, our multidisciplinary team includes experts like reconstructive surgeons Joseph Dayan (middle), and Jonas Nelson (right).

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or are planning to have a preventive mastectomy, you’ll want to know about breast reconstruction surgery to decide if it’s right for you. Breast reconstruction can be done in a variety of ways to rebuild your breast or breasts.

We understand that you may be overwhelmed by many difficult decisions and a variety of choices. Discuss your options with your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon as soon as possible if you’re considering breast reconstruction. It’s important to understand how the type of breast surgery you have can influence your reconstructive options.

What are the first steps in breast reconstruction?

The first step is deciding what type of breast reconstruction is right for you. Broadly speaking, there are two ways to rebuild the breast: using an artificial implant or using tissue from another part of your body (often called flap surgery). If only one breast is affected, your doctors may recommend having some kind of surgery on the other breast —such as a breast lift, breast reduction, or breast augmentation. This will help match the reconstructed breast with the natural breast as closely as possible.

Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Breast reconstruction, regardless of the type you choose, is a process that will take several months and involve multiple doctor visits and procedures.

Breast Implants

Most women start with temporary implants called tissue expanders, which are later swapped for a permanent implant. Some women get permanent breast implants during mastectomy.

  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Quicker recovery
  • Avoids scars elsewhere on the body

Learn more about breast implants

Autologous Flap reconstruction

Reconstruction using your own tissue is called autologous. The tissue is usually skin, fat, and sometimes muscle.

  • Longer hospital stay
  • Reconstructed breast looks natural and ages naturally
  • Scars elsewhere on the body

MSK offers the most types of autologous tissue reconstruction:

DIEP Flap (Abdomen)

DUG, PAP, LTP (Thigh), and GAP (Buttocks) Free-Flap

Latissimus Dorsi Flap (Back)

Other surgical enhancements to the appearance of your breasts may also be part of your breast reconstruction process. When appropriate, your doctor may speak with you about revision surgery, nipple reconstruction, and oncoplastic reconstruction.

Choosing No Reconstruction

You don’t have to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. You can instead “go flat.”

Some women choose to go flat and stay flat forever. Some decide they want breast reconstruction later — months or even years later. Delaying reconstruction is usually possible. Talk to your doctor about your options for breast reconstruction in the future if you choose to go flat after a mastectomy.

  • Quickest recovery
  • Simplest procedure
  • Most cost effective if no insurance

Why Choose MSK for Breast Reconstruction

There’s a lot on your shoulders right now. MSK can help make these challenging times easier for you.

Take comfort in knowing our surgeons are highly trained and internationally recognized for their expertise in all types of breast reconstruction. They perform hundreds of surgeries every year, including complex reconstructions and revision surgeries on women who are unhappy with their original reconstruction. At MSK, our surgeons collaborate with medical oncologists, dermatologists, radiation oncologists, and more on each patient so we can evaluate and meet your goals and minimize recovery time. Ultimately, we want to help you get back to being you.

When you choose MSK, you’ll also find compassionate care from talented nurses, exceptional rehabilitation programs, and integrative medicine specialists. And to help you feel your best on the inside, MSK offers a range of emotional support resources, both online and in-person.

The latest breast reconstruction techniques.

These include surgeries using new types of implants or tissue from other areas of your body. Our surgeons are highly skilled at complex microsurgery techniques that lead to better outcomes and fewer complications.

Our Team. Here for You.

At MSK you’ll receive compassionate care from a team of experts before, during, and after your surgery. We’re here for you every step of the way

This includes skilled care from nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who specialize in working with patients who are recovering from breast cancer surgery and breast reconstruction. They’ll care for you both at your bedside while you are in the hospital and in our surgeons’ offices as you recover to help deliver the best follow-up care during postsurgical checkups. Learn more about what to expect after reconstructive surgery.

A commitment to patient satisfaction. We track satisfaction and use those results to continuously improve outcomes and quality of life for our patients. The Breast-Q satisfaction questionnaire, which was developed at MSK and is now used around the world, helps us evaluate your unique needs.

Get the Support you need at MSK

MSK offers compassionate care from a team of experts offering the latest breast reconstruction techniques. We’re here for you every step of the way, before, during, and after surgery.

Financial Services at MSK
Managing the cost of your cancer treatment can be stressful and difficult. To speak with someone about your options, contact your Patient Access Coordinator (PAC).

Support & Helpful Resources
Your mental health is important, too. We offer many resources to help you through the emotional aspects of breast reconstruction.

Request an Appointment

Call 646-497-9064
Available Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern time)

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