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Know Your Options With Breast Reconstruction

By: Dr. Christopher Khorsandi


hose who must have part or all of a breast removed in a lumpectomy or a mastectomy should consider the options available for breast reconstruction. Reconstruction of breast tissue is used to restore the look and feel of the breast due to surgical removal. With reconstruction, breasts will appear even and balanced when viewed with clothing on, though there might be a noticeable difference without clothing.

Breast Reconstruction Options

There are several options to consider when deciding upon reconstruction following a lumpectomy or mastectomy. These choices should be discussed with the surgeon prior to removal of breast tissue. Options to choose from include:

  • Having reconstruction immediately after tissue removal or at a later time

  • Having implants, reconstruction with autologous tissue, or a combination

  • Having nipple and aerola reconstruction

When to Have Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstruction procedures may be performed immediately following a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, or they may be done at a later time. Immediate reconstruction avoids another surgery, while waiting allows for better healing, especially if radiation treatments will be needed following surgical removal of breast tissue. There are several factors to consider that are best discussed with a qualified surgeon when deciding on when to have breast reconstruction performed.

Choosing the Type of Reconstruction

There are pros and cons to choosing implants, autologous tissue reconstruction, or a combination technique. When choosing implants, there is a choice between saline and silicone implants. Autologous tissue reconstruction uses tissue from one of many areas of the body to reconstruct the look of the breast. Using autologous tissue results in a more natural appearance that will not need to be repeated, but may require additional surgeries initially to gather tissue. However, the use of implants typically involves less surgeries and quicker healing times and does not require the removal of large amounts of tissue from other areas of the body.

Deciding on Nipple and Aerola Reconstruction

In a few instances, the surgeon can save the nipple and aerola during removal of part or all of the breast, however, in many more cases the nipple and aerola are removed with breast tissue. Tissue from the new breast or other areas of the body can be used to form a new nipple. The aerola may be tattooed on with natural looking ink or may be formed with matching skin from the groin area.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.