How Long After Mastectomy Can You Have Reconstruction?

Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons Serving Denver, Lone Tree, Colorado & Nationwide

Posted: August 28, 2019

You can choose to undergo breast reconstruction at nearly any point after your mastectomy, depending on your preferences and specific circumstances. Reconstructive surgery can be performed promptly after a unilateral or bilateral mastectomy, or many years down the road.

The timing of your reconstruction will fall into one of three categories: immediate, delayed, or staged. Below, you will find information about each approach that can help you determine the ideal timing for your procedure.

Option One: Immediate Reconstruction

Woman considering breast reconstruction in DenverBreast reconstruction surgery can often be performed right after mastectomy surgery. This method is called immediate reconstruction.

There are several benefits of immediate reconstruction. This approach tends to offer a positive psychological and emotional impact because you will have a rebuilt breast shape when you wake up from surgery. Additionally, it can often provide a slight cosmetic advantage because more breast skin is typically preserved.

Immediate reconstruction requires coordination and planning between your breast cancer surgeon and our reconstructive surgeons. It consists of one operation, beginning with the removal of the breast and ending with implant-based or autologous tissue reconstruction. Immediate reconstruction using implants is sometimes referred to as a direct-to-implant procedure.

It is important to note that while immediate reconstruction provides a new breast shape directly after a mastectomy, it may not be the final surgery. Additional procedures may be necessary to achieve the final breast shape and appearance. These finishing touches may include nipple reconstruction and areola pigmentation.

Option Two: Delayed Reconstruction

Delayed reconstruction involves a separate operation to perform breast reconstruction anytime after your mastectomy. Delayed reconstruction can be performed weeks, months, or years later. It is a great option if you do not want to focus on reconstructive surgery during your cancer treatment, or if you change your mind about forgoing reconstruction.

You may need to consider delayed reconstruction depending on the nature of your cancer treatment. It is often an appropriate approach if you are still undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy at the time of your mastectomy. You may also need to delay reconstruction based on your current medical condition to ensure optimal healing and results.

Option Three: Staged Reconstruction

Also known as immediate-delayed breast reconstruction, staged reconstruction is a hybrid approach that involves some reconstructive work during mastectomy and additional reconstructive surgery at a later date. Typically, this consists of placing a tissue expander at the time of mastectomy to preserve the shape of the breast and the quality of the breast skin. It may be an ideal option if you need to undergo radiation therapy or if your skin and muscle cannot currently accommodate an implant.

The expander stays in place during any additional cancer treatments you may need. Approximately 4 to 6 months after your last radiation treatment, or when there is enough space for an implant, the expander is removed and breast reconstruction is completed.

Let Us Help You Plan Your Breast Reconstruction

At The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, we have three highly experienced, board-certified plastic surgeons who are ready to help you explore your options for reconstruction. Our surgeons believe that, for many women, breast reconstruction is a fundamental part of the healing process after cancer. We set aside a significant amount of time for your consultation to ensure that you feel comfortable and have a chance to ask all of your questions. 

For individualized recommendations regarding breast reconstruction timing, please call us at 303-706-1100 to schedule a consultation. We happily serve Denver, Lone Tree, and the surrounding areas of Colorado.