Traditionally, it was done six months after the cancer operation. There are advantages to this and this may still be the best for some people.
Advantages of delayed reconstruction:
- Mastectomy is not a very painful operation and the postoperative discomfort is often psychological as much as physical. Having the reconstruction makes the operation bigger and more painful.
- Some women find that having a flat chest is acceptable and choose not to have a reconstruction after some time.
- If postoperative radiotherapy is needed, it may cause distortion of the breast after reconstruction.
Disadvantages of delayed reconstruction:
- When a regular reconstruction has been done, the chest wall will be flat. In order to allow for a reconstruction, the skin either has to be ‘stretched’ or skin has to be used from another part of the body e.g. the tummy or the back.
Advantages of immediate reconstruction:
- Only one procedure is necessary.
- The mastectomy can sometimes be done through the nipple so the normal breast skin can be used for the reconstruction.
- The results are better cosmetically.
- The patient’s nipple may sometimes be used if the cancer is at the edge of the breast tissue.
- The psychological trauma after the operation is less as the patient can wake up from the operation with a “breast”.