Breast reconstruction is achieved through several plastic surgery techniques that attempt to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size following mastectomy.
The decision to have breast reconstruction surgery is extremely personal. You’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable.
Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedures you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
The possible risks of breast reconstruction include, but are not limited to, bleeding, infection, poor healing of incisions, and anesthesia risks. You should also know that:
- Flap surgery includes the risk of partial or complete loss of the flap and a loss of sensation at both the donor and reconstruction site.
- The use of implants carries the risk of breast firmness (capsular contracture) and implant rupture.
Breast implants do not impair breast health. Careful review of scientific research conducted by independent groups such as the Institute of Medicine has found no proven link between breast implants and autoimmune or other systemic diseases. Visit breastimplantsafety.org for current information.
Where will my surgery be performed?
Surgery for your breast reconstruction is most often performed in a hospital setting, possibly including a short hospital stay, and your doctor will likely use general anesthesia.
Some follow-up procedures may be performed on an outpatient basis, and local anesthesia with sedation may be used.
These decisions will be based on the requirements of your specific procedure and in consideration of your preferences and your doctor’s best judgment.
Preparing for breast reconstruction surgery
Prior to breast reconstruction surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Special instructions you receive will cover:
- What to do on the day of surgery
- The use of anesthesia during your breast reconstruction
- Post-operative care and follow-up
- Breast implant registry documents (when necessary)
Your plastic surgeon will also discuss where your procedure will be performed. Breast reconstruction surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical center, outpatient/ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital.
You’ll need help
If your breast reconstruction is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.