Who can have breast reconstruction?

Most women who’ve had either their entire breast or part of a breast removed can get breast reconstruction, even if you’ve had a radical mastectomy or lumpectomy, have had radiotherapy or have large breasts.

Generally, patients should be in relatively good cardiovascular health, and be fit enough to have the required surgical procedure(s). And if you’re healthy enough, you can have breast reconstruction at any age. On the other hand, reconstruction may be difficult in women who smoke, are very overweight, or who have illnesses such as diabetes that increase the risk of surgery. Your plastic surgeon will determine what are the best options available to you.

If you’re having a lumpectomy and think you may want breast reconstruction, talk with your surgeon as early as possible about your options.

What you should know is that:

The cancer’s disease stage does not matter in most cases, though advanced, aggressive, or inflammatory cancers may prevent or delay reconstruction.
The recovery period may be difficult or prolonged; a woman’s physical ability to cope with major surgery and recuperation should also be considered.
Smokers may need to stop smoking two months before reconstruction to reduce risk of complications

Certain medical conditions may prevent reconstruction:

Diabetes that is not well controlled

Autoimmune diseases

Extreme obesity or thinness

Poor general health


Breast reconstruction is a highly individualized procedure. You should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to fit any sort of ideal image. Breast reconstruction is a good option if you:

  • Cope well with your diagnosis and treatment
  • Don’t have additional medical conditions or other illnesses that may impair healing
  • Have a positive outlook and realistic goals for restoring your breast and body image

The decision to have breast reconstruction is a personal one. Most important is that you feel ready for the emotional adjustment involved in breast reconstruction, and it may take some time to accept the results.