Timing is the first question that needs to be answered when considering breast reconstruction surgery. Should the reconstruction be started at the time of the mastectomy or after it is over? There are good reasons to choose either alternative.
Immediate reconstruction, performed at the time of the original cancer surgery, can decrease overall healing time and time away from work. Exposure to anesthesia is cut down by eliminating an additional surgery. And there is the psychological benefit of waking up after cancer surgery with two breasts, not one.
But immediate reconstruction is not for everyone. Some patients can’t handle the added emotional stress and just want the cancer out. Some will need radiation, which can damage a reconstruction. Some don’t think missing the breast will bother them, but find out that it does. And unfortunately, a significant number of women do not know that breast reconstruction is possible, and only discover it after their mastectomies.
The timing of breast reconstruction needs to be discussed with your cancer surgeon, oncologist, radiation doctor and your plastic surgeon. But first and most importantly, you, the patient, need to know what your options are.