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Patients & Visitors

Breast Unit

When can the reconstruction be done?

Most women who have had a whole or partial mastectomy can have breast reconstruction, either at the same time as their initial surgery for cancer (immediate reconstruction) or at a later date (delayed reconstruction).

Most women who request a breast reconstruction are able to have the operation and this can frequently be performed at the time of their mastectomy.

However, we may advise against having an immediate reconstruction because other aspects of breast cancer treatment (such as chemotherapy) need to take precedence or because the use of radiotherapy afterwards may damage the reconstruction itself.

Sometimes reconstruction at any stage is not advised because of other existing medical conditions that might increase the risks of problems and complications following surgery.

There are many practical advantages both to the patient and to the surgeon of having an immediate reconstruction. However, one of the main disadvantages in having an immediate breast reconstruction is that if post-operative radiotherapy is recommended it may damage the reconstruction, increasing scar tissue formation and making it more likely that correctional surgery is required in the future.

This is a very important consideration for those methods of reconstruction that utilise tissue taken from elsewhere in the body as it can be used only once; especially so for tissue taken from the abdomen. Therefore, if you are going to have radiotherapy, you may well be advised to delay the reconstruction for up to 12 months to allow your skin and tissue to heal.

Next Section: Reasons for having reconstruction

Also see

Breast Cancer Care
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Breast Cancer Care: Breast Reconstruction Link opens in new window

General Hospital Information

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