Breast reconstruction is a type of surgery that aims to make the breasts look and feel as natural as possible after they have been fully or partially removed. It is performed by specially trained plastic surgeons and usually involves multiple operations. You may also need to have surgery on your breasts that do not have cancer to make the two breasts look the same.
The decision to have breast reconstruction is a very personal decision. It is important to discuss breast reconstruction with your cancer surgeon and plastic surgeon before surgery. Some women choose breast reconstruction because they believe it will make them feel more comfortable, confident, and like themselves before having a mastectomy. Some women have this surgery because they do not want to use external breast implants. Other women choose not to have breast reconstruction because they don’t want any more surgeries.
Some women are unable to undergo breast reconstruction due to general health, the amount of tissue used for reconstruction, or other issues. If breast reconstruction is not suitable for you, your plastic surgeon will notify you.
Here are the most important things you should consider prior to getting breast reconstruction:
- Choosing the type of breast reconstruction that is right for you
Your plastic surgeon will discuss with you the different types of breast reconstruction and which one is best for you. When deciding what type of breast reconstruction to offer you, they will consider many factors.
- Timing of breast reconstruction
When you have breast reconstruction depends on your breast cancer treatment and when you are ready to have this surgery. Some women choose to have breast reconstruction long after breast cancer treatment is over. Other women choose to do so as soon as possible.
- After breast reconstruction
After breast reconstruction, it may take several months for the tissue to heal and soften. Discuss with your surgeon when you can resume normal activities and the types of exercises you can do. When the incision is completely healed, you can start wearing a bra.
- Follow Up
Follow-up is an important part of breast reconstruction. Your plastic surgeon or medical team will work with you to determine follow-up care that meets your needs. During the follow-up, your health care team will usually ask you questions about the side effects of treatment and how you are coping.
- Health coverage
Most provincial and territorial health insurance plans cover breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery. The amount and type of coverage vary across Canada. Before undergoing breast reconstruction, check your provincial health insurance plan.