Timing Breast Reconstruction – Choosing The Right Time For Surgery

There are many factors that determine the right timing of post-mastectomy reconstruction surgery. Women who are scheduled for breast cancer surgery can opt to have reconstruction done at the time of the procedure or can choose to delay reshaping of the breast until a later time. Timing breast reconstruction involves not only physical considerations, but can also involve psychological considerations and personal beliefs as well.

Choosing Immediate Reconstruction

When a woman undergoes breast cancer surgery and has a partial or full mastectomy, the decision can be made to immediately reconstruct the breast after removing the cancerous tissue. The benefits of choosing immediate breast reshaping during a mastectomy allow for the best aesthetic results according to many plastic surgeons. The breast tissue, skin and nipple are more easily preserved. The breast cancer patient also benefits from the collaboration of both plastic surgeon and oncologist to obtain satisfactory results.

Financially, it costs less to have both procedures done at the same time. It also prevents the patient from having to schedule another surgery and be put under anesthesia again.

The Factors Involved In Delayed Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction surgery can also be delayed after a mastectomy. Sometimes, it is a simply a matter of waiting until tests come back showing no need for further radiation or chemotherapy treatments. Some women and their physicians delay any breast reshaping surgery out of fear that cancerous cells may still be found in and around the mastectomy site. Women can be afraid that the newly-formed breast might hide new cancerous growth from test results. Breast reshaping can be delayed for a long time because of this concern.

What Is Delayed-Immediate Reconstruction?

Some breast cancer patients and their surgeons choose a procedure that is both delayed and immediate. At the time of the mastectomy, a tissue expander is put in place to hold the shape of the breast skin while testing or pathology is taking place. If the patient doesn’t need post-mastectomy radiation, an immediate reconstruction can be performed. If the patient does require radiation treatments, reconstruction is delayed until therapy is completed. Radiation can shrink and deform breast skin tissue which is why the skin expander is used to preserve the shape of the breast skin and tissue during radiation therapy.

Some Women Simply Need Time-Out From Surgical Procedures

Another reason why women may simply choose to wait for reconstruction is for psychological or emotional reasons. Being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating. Many patients need support, counseling and time to process what the best options are for them personally. Some just want a break from the rounds of doctor appointments, surgery and spending time in the hospital. This can happen when a breast cancer survivor has to undergo a second mastectomy and yet again make the decision for another breast reconstruction surgery. A woman may choose to get back to living her life and forget about being a cancer patient for awhile.

The right timing for breast reconstruction surgery is not only a medical decision advised by the patient’s health care team, but a very personal one for anyone who has had a mastectomy.

More articles

DIEP Reconstruction
Breast Reconstruction – General Information
Breast Reconstruction – Most Common Risks
Who is a Candidate for Breast Implant Reconstruction
Reconstruction With Tissue Flaps
Other Surgical Procedures Related to Breast Reconstruction
Choices in Reconstructive Procedures
Questions You Should ask your Surgeon about Breast Reconstruction
Warranty for Implants
Breast Reconstruction Considerations

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