For many women, the small differences between their remaining and reconstructed breasts are not noticeable when they wear a bra. For others, the difference in breast size may be more obvious.
Some women decide to have the remaining breast made smaller or larger through surgery to match the reconstructed breast and improve balance and posture.
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Some women may be advised or choose to have a bilateral mastectomy. This means both breasts are surgically removed.
Reasons a bilateral mastectomy may be recommended include:
- the type of breast cancer you have
- your risks and/or anxiety about developing another breast cancer
- family history or a gene fault that increases your risk for breast cancer
- the amount of surgery required to achieve a symmetrical result with the breast reconstruction
- choosing an abdominal flap reconstruction but not being able to repeat the procedure if cancer develops in the other breast.
Reconstruction will need to be considered for both breasts. Discuss this issue with your doctor and seek a second opinion if you wish.
This procedure combines a lumpectomy (lump removal) with a breast reduction. It is often used as an alternative to mastectomy in suitable cases.
Usually a reduction mammaplasty is done on the other breast at the same time.
Taking care of yourself after a reconstruction
Your recovery time will depend on your age, general health and the type of surgery that you had. Most women feel better within 1–2 weeks and should be able to fully return to normal activities after 4–8 weeks.
Rest — When you get home from hospital, you will need to take things easy for the first weeks. Ask family and friends to help you with chores so you can rest.
Driving — You will probably need to avoid driving for 2–6 weeks after the surgery.
Lifting — Avoid repetitive arm movements, such as hanging out washing or vacuuming, and heavy lifting, including carrying shopping bags and lifting small children.
Tummy problems — After TRAM flap surgery you may have some weakness in your abdomen. Take care getting up from a low chair or sitting up in bed. You will be encouraged to wear supportive undergarments.
Follow-up appointments — Your surgeon will continue to care for you until your body has healed. Then you will have regular check-ups with your breast specialist. For more on this go to Looking After Yourself.