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How should I decide when to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy?

IImmediate reconstruction avoids the need for another operation at a later date, but it adds time to the 2-hour mastectomy surgery. Usually an hour is needed for an implant, or 4 or more hours for a flap reconstruction (using your own tissue). Reconstruction may increase the risk of complications from surgery and the amount of recovery time, so patients with other serious medical conditions or risk factors may not be good candidates for reconstruction.
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery

The decision to have immediate or delayed breast reconstruction should be discussed with the oncologist and plastic surgeon. Many patients will undergo immediate breast reconstruction with the mastectomy to reduce added future surgeries. Depending on the stage, grade and type of tumor, the oncologist can decide safety issue with immediate reconstruction. Patients that require radiation to the breast should usually delay placing a prosthesis or tissue expander for poor vascularity of the tissue. Radiation therapy may increase risk for capsular contracture as well. The psychological impact of waking up from anesthesia without a breast should also be weighed in your final decision for reconstruction. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.