Why have breast reconstruction?

Breast cancer surgery will likely affect how you look and feel. Some women find it harder than others to come to terms with losing one or both of their breasts.

“I need to feel whole again.”

Women choose breast reconstruction for many reasons. You may be concerned about the shape of your body and the look of your breast after a mastectomy. You may choose breast reconstruction because your breasts are an important part of your body image, self-esteem and sexuality. How your partner feels may also play a part. You may choose it so that you won’t need to wear a breast form (prosthesis/false breast), or you may feel that breast reconstruction will help you to feel more confident or feminine.

“I feel good and I want to look as good as I feel.”

If you aren’t in a relationship at the time of your breast cancer surgery, you may be concerned about the prospect of meeting someone new. Breast reconstruction may help you feel more at ease when forming new relationships, and allow you to decide whether and when you want to talk about your breast cancer.

Alternatively you may decide that you feel comfortable wearing a prosthesis (an external breast shape) and that you don’t want to go through the additional surgery and recovery that breast reconstruction involves. Everyone is different. What matters is that you choose what suits you best.

“I want to feel sexy again and I want my husband to see me as sexy.”

Some women plan to have reconstructive surgery after their treatment but change their minds as they find that the loss of a breast doesn’t trouble them as much they thought it would. Sometimes women decide years after breast cancer surgery that they feel ready to have an operation to make a new breast. Either way, every woman should have the choice to surgically restore her breast shape if she wants. Reconstruction can be an important part of treatment to help with emotional recovery and wellbeing.

If you do decide to have a breast reconstruction, you’ll need to think about the timing of the surgery. It may be possible to have it at the same time as your mastectomy so that you’ll have a breast shape immediately after the operation. Or you may prefer to finish your cancer treatment first before going ahead with reconstruction.

“I want to start dating again and want any future lovers to see me as a whole woman.”

Other factors may also affect your decisions about reconstruction, such as your general health, your relationships, commitments and priorities.

It’s important to have realistic expectations about the possible results of breast reconstruction surgery. It can’t give you a perfect breast. A reconstructed breast won’t have any sensation and may not move as well as your natural breast. Although your surgeon will aim to make the new breast as good a match as possible to your other breast, there may be differences in the size, shape or position of the two breasts. In general most women are pleased with the results of their surgery, but some women are disappointed.