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What Should I Know About Breast Reconstruction?

October 16, 2017

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Some women elect to undergo breast reconstruction surgery to address the aesthetic effects of breast cancer following a mastectomy or lumpectomy procedure. While the primary focus of any cancer treatment plan is to eliminate the cancer, a secondary aspect may be to enhance a patient’s appearance – if the patient chooses to do so.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, the multispecialty team in our Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program considers the unique needs and preferences of each patient prior to recommending a specific breast cancer treatment approach. For instance:

  • In some cases, breast reconstruction surgery can be performed at the same time as a mastectomy or lumpectomy procedure. Alternatively, it can be postponed until a later date. If a patient initially decides to delay her reconstruction, she may ultimately change her mind and opt not to proceed later – or ever. It is important to understand that reconstructive surgery after breast cancer treatment is never medically necessary under any circumstances.
  • Sometimes, a patient’s breast skin and nipple can be preserved during breast cancer surgery. This type of procedure is known as a nipple-sparing mastectomy. Additionally, a nipple reconstruction can sometimes be performed using the surrounding skin or areola tattooing.
  • If a patient so chooses, breast reconstruction can sometimes be complemented with fat grafting. During this procedure, a plastic surgeon harvests fat cells from another area of the patient’s body, such as her thighs. Then, after processing and purifying the harvested fat, the surgeon will precisely layer it within a reconstructed breast to create the patient’s desired shape, size and appearance.

It is important to keep in mind that every woman is different. Therefore, breast reconstruction is not right for everyone. When presented with the choice, some women decide not to undergo reconstruction. There are alternatives, such as breast prostheses and specially fitted bras and forms, which can simulate the look of a natural breast under clothing and swimsuits.

Following breast cancer surgery, many of Moffitt’s patients are able to put their cancer diagnoses behind them and move forward with the next chapters of their lives. Of course, we recognize that recovery is a process, and our supportive care specialists are always available to address questions and concerns.

To learn more about the breast cancer surgery options available at Moffitt Cancer Center, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online. We accept but do not require referrals.