Many women are not aware of or told of their options regarding breast reconstruction prior to mastectomy. You should consult with a plastic and reconstructive surgeon prior to undergoing any type of lumpectomy or mastectomy procedure to see which option or options are available to you. The Federal Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 contains important protections for women with breast cancer who choose to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.
Modern surgical technology makes it possible to construct a natural-looking breast after mastectomy (breast removal) for cancer or other diseases. The procedure is commonly begun and sometimes completed immediately following mastectomy, so that the patient wakes with a new breast mound instead of no breast at all. Alternatively, reconstruction may begin years after mastectomy.
Women whose cancer seems to have been eradicated with mastectomy are the best candidates for breast reconstruction. Those with health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure and those who smoke are advised to wait. Others prefer to postpone surgery as they come to terms with having cancer, consider the extent of the procedure, or explore alternatives.
The reconstruction itself consists of multiple operations, the first of which involves creation of the breast mound and is performed during or after mastectomy in a hospital under general anesthesia. Later surgeries, if necessary, may be done in the hospital or an outpatient facility, with either general or local anesthesia.
There are several ways to reconstruct the breast, both with and without implants; Dr. Meeks will work together with you in deciding which is the best for you.