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Before Breast Reconstruction

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.


Breast reconstruction

is surgery to rebuild one or both breasts. Breast reconstruction may be done if you have had all or part of your breast removed. Breast reconstruction may be done at the same time as a mastectomy or in a separate surgery. The nipple and areola (darker tissue around the nipple) can also be rebuilt.

Immediate breast reconstruction:

You may be able to have breast reconstruction at the same time that you have a mastectomy. A surgeon will remove your breast tissue and cancer. Then, a plastic surgeon will create new breasts. Ask your healthcare provider if you can have breast reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy.

Delayed breast reconstruction:

Your healthcare provider may discuss with you your option to delay breast reconstruction. He or she may discuss waiting until you have healed from a mastectomy. He or she may also discuss waiting until after you have radiation or chemotherapy. Talk to your healthcare provider about waiting to have breast reconstruction.

Types of breast reconstruction:

Your options for surgery may depend on your health conditions, age, body type, and what you expect from surgery. The goals of breast reconstruction are to create breasts that are the same size and as natural looking as possible. If only one breast will be reconstructed, the goal is to match the size and shape of your other breast. Talk to your plastic surgeon about the risks and benefits of each type of surgery.

Nipple and areola reconstruction:

You can choose to have nipple and areola reconstruction. This may be done after your breast heals from the first stage of reconstruction. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options.

Discuss with your healthcare provider:

Learn as much as you can about breast reconstruction before you have surgery. Breast reconstruction is usually performed by a plastic surgeon. The following is a list of important things to discuss with your plastic surgeon:

Do not smoke:

Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. They can also cause poor healing and increase your risk for infection after surgery. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Plan for your surgery:

You may stay in the hospital for several days after your surgery. Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital and stay with you. You will not be able to drive or lift anything heavy for several days to weeks. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work and your normal activities.

For support and more information:

Follow up with your doctor or surgeon as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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