Dr Shraddha Deshpande

Post cancer breast reconstruction

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The Incidence of breast cancer has been steadily increasing in past few decades & average age of patient is reducing. To treat breast cancer or to avoid getting breast cancer, one or both the breasts are at times removed. The procedure is called mastectomy. The long-term prospects of living without a breast affects every woman differently and some women experience stress over their physical appearance.

Using Breast reconstruction procedure, women have the option of having the shape of the removed breast rebuilt. Breast reconstruction may be done at the same time as the mastectomy or it may be done later on. In a final stage of breast reconstruction, nipple and areola may be re-created on the reconstructed breast if these were not preserved during the mastectomy.

Breast reconstruction doesn’t change the chance of cancer coming back and it generally doesn’t interfere with treatment.


A surgeon can reconstruct the breast in many ways. Some women choose to have breast implants, which are filled with saline or silicone gel. Another method of breast reconstruction is to create a breast shape using tissue taken from another part of your body. The plastic surgeon can take skin, muscle, and fat from your lower abdomen, back or buttocks. The type of reconstruction that is best for you depends on your age, body type, and the type of cancer surgery that you had. Your surgeon will recommend the option best suited to your needs.

Breast reconstruction procedure is performed under general anesthesia & takes anywhere between 2 to 5 hours. The procedure requires overnight stay. Breast reconstruction done using implants will require lesser hospital stay as against breast reconstruction done by flap. At times, reduction of the other breast is performed to improve the symmetry and overall effect of breast reconstruction.


The success of breast conservation is based on the removal of the primary tumor with adequate clear margins and in doing so maintaining the shape and contour of the breast. Achieving both goals together may be limited by the amount of tissue removed relative to the breast size. The shape of your reconstructed breast will gradually improve over the months.

Breast reconstruction procedure will help achieve following.

  • Improved body image and self-esteem
  • Rejuvenated figure with a breast profile

What about scars?

One of the biggest worries that many women have about undergoing breast surgery is how visible the surgery scars will be. Scars are an inevitable part of any invasive surgery. Scars often fade with time and become barely noticeable. Scar lightening will take several months up to a year after surgery. Scarring tends to be more visible in people with extremely dark skin. Please discuss about scars with your surgeon. 

Risks/ Complications

Breast reconstruction is generally a safe procedure but following potential complaints, risks and complications may occur; most of the which will subside in 2 weeks’ time. These are largely driven by one’s healing abilities.

  • Bleeding, Infection, Bruising, swelling & pain
  • Nausea, numbness
  • Itching around wound
  • Changes in nipple or breast sensation

In rare case, as with all surgical procedures, a revision surgery may be necessary to correct minor irregularities.

Care after treatment/ surgery

Immediately following surgery, breast will be covered in gauze & surgical bra may be in place to support natural healing process, minimize bruising and swelling. Most women return to normal activities within 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. It may be several weeks before you can do vigorous activities including gym, sex etc. Your recovery in hospital during 1st few days after surgery will be very fast as your body will channelize all its energy on healing.

After you are discharged from hospital, you will see your surgeon in post-surgery follow up sessions during which as well, you will be given more guidance on care, activities etc. Any plastic or other surgery does not stop biological ageing process and your surgeon will recommend you ways to have effect of surgery lasted for long.


Costs for individual procedures will vary widely based on procedure & hospital chosen for surgery but usually involves following.

  • Surgeon’s fee
  • Hospital facility charges
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Medical tests, medicines
  • Any post-surgery garments

If revision surgery is needed in a rare case, your surgeon will not charge Surgeon’s fee but other costs will have to be borne by patient as applicable.

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