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HealthInfo Canterbury

Breast reconstruction

What is breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is an operation that restores shape to the breast after a mastectomy (removal of the breast for breast cancer). The aim is to match the remaining breast as closely as possible by creating a breast mound using either an implant, your own tissues or a combination of both.

Every effort is made to achieve the best possible breast reconstruction, but results from this type of surgery vary. Breast reconstruction will result in you having a breast mound that will best resemble your natural breast when you are dressed. But the reconstructed breast will be scarred, have no sensation or nipple and may appear a different size and shape when you are undressed. Surgery to your other breast can make your breasts more even, and a nipple reconstruction may be an option for the future.

Breast reconstruction may be done at the same time as mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), or some time after the mastectomy (delayed reconstruction). You will need to discuss the timing of reconstruction with your surgeon to work out what's best for you.

Is breast reconstruction for me?

Breast reconstruction is a major operation, and some women need more than one operation. Some women choose not to have breast reconstruction and are content to wear an external breast form (called a prosthesis) in their bra, while others are not. The aim is to find the solution that suits you best.

Smokers who have breast reconstruction do not heal as well. Your surgeon will strongly encourage you to stop smoking, and may not be prepared to operate until you do. If you need help to quit smoking, use the resources on our page How to become smokefree.

In this section

How breast reconstruction surgery is done

Risks & complications of breast reconstruction surgery

Before breast reconstruction

Hospital care after breast reconstruction

Going home after breast reconstruction

Caring for your drain at home after surgery

More information about breast reconstruction

Page reference: 85838

Review key: HIBRC-85838