What is breast reconstruction?

Many women opt to reconstruct their breasts after breast cancer surgery that removes part of or the entire breast. The goal of breast reconstruction surgery is to rebuild and restore the breast(s) to a more natural shape, appearance, symmetry and size after a lumpectomy or mastectomy.

What are types of breast reconstruction?

  • Breast implants — uses silicone or saline to rebuild and reshape the breasts
  • Tissue flap procedures — uses tissues from another area of your body to rebuild the breast

Your Mercy Health doctor will evaluate your case to determine which breast reconstruction option is best for you. Your plastic surgeon will take into consideration the type of mastectomy you have had, what cancer treatments you have had and what type of body you have.

Who is a candidate for breast reconstruction?

Candidates for breast reconstruction include patients who:

  • Have coped well with diagnosis and treatment
  • Do not have medical conditions or illnesses that may adversely affect healing
  • Are positive about their body image and realistic goals about restoring breast shape

If you are considering breast reconstruction, be aware that results are variable. Your newly reconstructed breast may not look or feel the same as the one it replaced. You may have visible scar lines where the incisions were made.

What are risks associated with breast reconstruction?

Risks associated with breast reconstruction include:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Infection at incision sites
  • Implants may rupture
  • Loss of sensation at construction site or donor site
  • Anesthesia risk

What to expect from breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction surgery is typically performed on an inpatient basis. You will most likely need general anesthesia.

Is breast reconstruction covered by insurance?

Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is covered by insurance. The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act passed in 1998 is a federal law that requires insurance companies to cover this procedure at least partially.

Recovery from breast reconstruction surgery

The time it takes to recover from breast reconstruction surgery will vary based on the type of procedure you have. Typically, you can return to your normal activities within a couple months and start feeling better within a few weeks.

Work closely with your doctor and plastic surgery team to understand how to care for your incision sites and the follow-up you need with your care team.

Find a breast cancer specialist nearby

Mercy Health locations that can treat you