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Facts About Implants After Breast Cancer

Published on September 20th, 2021

A breast cancer diagnosis can be one of the scariest things to go through. Your mind goes in a million different directions, all of which end in a question that you can’t possibly answer. If a mastectomy is part of your treatment plan, you’re probably overwhelmed at the thought of losing your breasts. Mourning the loss is important to your recovery, and thinking about the way your body will look is an important step in your healing. Thankfully, Dr. Barrett has extensive experience in both breast implants and implants after breast cancer.

Can you get breast implants if you had breast cancer?

Absolutely. Many women choose to have breast augmentation immediately after their mastectomy, which is done at the same time as the mastectomy. After the breast tissue is removed, your plastic surgeon inserts the breast implants or tissue expanders (temporary, empty implants that are gradually inflated with saline over time in order to stretch the skin and make room for the breast implants). If you’re undergoing radiation therapy after your mastectomy, your doctors may recommend delaying reconstruction until after you’ve finished radiation treatment. Your doctors may also recommend delaying reconstruction if you have health problems that make it riskier to have a longer surgery.

What is breast reconstructive surgery?

After a mastectomy (the removal of one or both breasts), one of the ways that the breasts can be reconstructed is through augmentation with an implant, which replaces the breast tissue that is removed during the mastectomy, restoring the shape and volume of the breast. In fact, breast implants after cancer is the most common type of breast reconstruction. It’s important to note that while breast augmentation after cancer can give you a great cosmetic result, reconstructed breasts may not have the same look or feel as your original breasts. Keep in mind that reconstruction often involves two or more surgical procedures over 6 months to a year or more. Specifically, if you have tissue expanders placed during your first surgery, you can expect to have another surgery 2 to 6 months later to replace the expanders with breast implants. If you’re having breast implants after breast cancer surgery on only one breast, your breasts may not be symmetrical after surgery. In these cases, many women choose to augment their healthy breast to better match the reconstructed breast in size and shape.

Before your mastectomy, it’s smart to meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon who can spend time with you to answer all your questions and come up with a surgical plan that will get you as close to the body and shape you want. It’s also important to make sure that you’re comfortable with how your surgeon communicates with you, as well as ensuring your overall level of comfort.

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