Reconstructive or breast plant implant surgery is an option for most women who have had a mastectomy. Women who have had only the part of the breast around the cancer removed (lumpectomy) may not need reconstruction.
Reconstructive or breast implant surgery is not meant to treat the cancer, but rather to restore the way the breast looks after mastectomy. Breast reconstruction usually takes more than one surgery and is performed by a plastic surgeon. Sometimes an implant is placed during the same surgery as mastectomy. The nipple and the areola are created at a later time. But, often the surgeon will first place a balloon (tissue expander) beneath the chest muscle. Saline is added to the balloon every week or two to help stretch the skin and muscle. This may take several months. When the right size is reached, the balloon is taken out and an implant is put in.
If you are having a mastectomy and are thinking about having reconstruction right away, you should talk to a plastic surgeon before your operation. There are several choices about when the surgery can be done and exactly what type it will be. Remember, the choice to have breast reconstruction is yours to make.