Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Breast Reconstruction

If you’ve have a mastectomy because of breast cancer, you may choose to have reconstructive plastic surgery. It can restore symmetry between the two breasts by replacing skin, breast tissue, and the removed nipple.

The amount of reconstruction will depend on the mastectomy, and the width, size, and location of the removed tumor.

Recommended Related to Breast Cancer

General Information About Male Breast Cancer

Incidence and Mortality Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer (men only) in the United States in 2014:[1] New cases: 2,360. Deaths: 430. Male breast cancer is rare.[2] Less than 1% of all breastcarcinomas occur in men.[3,4] The mean age at diagnosis is between 60 and 70 years, though men of all ages can be affected with the disease. Risk Factors Predisposing risk factors [5] appear to include radiation exposure, estrogen administration, and diseases associated...

Read the General Information About Male Breast Cancer article > >

Is Breast Reconstruction Right for Me?

The long-term prospects of living without a breast or part of one affects every woman differently. The choice for one woman won't necessarily be right for another. It’s a personal decision, and it's often not easy to make.

You can choose to skip reconstruction. You can wear external breast forms or pads, or make no attempt to change your appearance.

Improvements in plastic surgery mean better results now than ever before, though. You can choose breast reconstruction using either breast implants or your own tissue.

The operation changes your appearance, but it can have psychological benefits as well. It can add to a sense of wellness for you and your family.

Is It Cosmetic Surgery?

Restoring the breast isn’t considered a cosmetic procedure. It’s reconstructive surgery. Since it’s considered part of the treatment of a disease, the law says insurance providers must provide coverage.

When’s the Best Time to Have Breast Reconstruction?

The timing is based on your desires, medical conditions, and cancer treatment. You can choose to have it done during the same operation to remove the breast, or months or years after a mastectomy.

If you've started any chemotherapy or radiation treatments, reconstruction is usually postponed until you complete those treatments. Your surgeon can help you decide the right timing for you.

What Are the Different Reconstruction Options?

You and your doctor will need to talk about your wants and needs, your medical condition, and any previous surgery before you decide.

Implants involve stretching the skin with a tissue expander that goes inside you, and then inserting a silicone-gel or saline (salt water) implant weeks later. The tissue expander is filled to a desired volume by adding saline, usually once a week for a few sessions. Many women find these sessions painful, but they’re often pleased with the final result. 

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow