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Breast reconstruction involves key variables

Breast reconstruction is usually per­formed after a woman has lost one or both breasts to cancer. Surgeons have a number of options in re­construction to best consider each patient’s specific medical history, goals, and current situation.

For example, the way the mastec­tomy, or breast removal surgery, was performed impacts the type of reconstruction that will work best. In some mastectomies, the breast skin is retained, and an implant can be placed immediately following the mastectomy. In other procedures, the skin may be left tight and flat, requiring a later procedure.

Some reconstructions use tissue from elsewhere on the body to rebuild the breast, while others focus on using implants to replace the lost tissue and volume. The best choice depends on the individual patient, and this discussion is an important part of consulting with a plastic surgeon.

It’s important to note that reconstruc­tion, because of its individuality, can vary in terms of the final effect. The goal is to create natural shape and volume, but it may not be possible to exactly recreate the look of the woman’s natural breasts from before the mastectomy. Also, while the look and feel will be as natural as possible, the patient should not expect to have the same level of sensation in the reconstructed breast as in the original. Losing one or both breasts to cancer can be a difficult process for women, but breast reconstruction can help restore her original look and may make some cancer survivors feel more comfortable with their bodies.

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