- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Breast prostheses and reconstruction
- Breast reconstruction
- Types of breast reconstruction
Types of breast reconstruction
The main types of breast reconstruction are implant reconstruction or flap reconstruction (or a combination of the two). An immediate reconstruction can be combined with a total mastectomy or a mastectomy that keeps the skin, or both the skin and nipple.
Most reconstructions involve two or more operations several weeks or months apart. Your reconstructive surgeon will discuss the different techniques and suggest the most suitable one for you.
Learn more about:
- Reconstruction options
- Skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomy and breast reconstruction
- Implant reconstruction
- Flap reconstruction
- Re-creating the nipple
- Surgery to the other breast
- What to expect after surgery
- Costs and financial assistance
- Taking care of yourself after surgery
Your reconstruction options will depend on several factors:
- your body shape and build
- your general health
- the surgeon’s experience
- the amount of tissue that has already been removed
- any scars from other operations
- the quality of the remaining skin and muscle
- the breast size you would like
- whether one or both breasts are affected
- whether you need radiation therapy or have already had it
- whether you smoke – this affects the type of flap you can have, as some types of operations are more likely to have complications in smokers or women who have recently quit.
Skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomy and breast reconstruction
You may be able to have a mastectomy that preserves the skin, or both the skin and nipple (called skin-sparing mastectomy or nipple-sparing mastectomy).
In these operations the breast tissue is removed, but most or all of the skin (and sometimes the nipple) is preserved. This often makes the reconstruction look more natural and any scars are usually less visible. Some type of immediate reconstruction is also performed at the same time as the mastectomy to fill out the skin.
These operations are not suitable for all types of breast cancer, so you should discuss this option with your breast cancer surgeon.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
A/Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and Clinical Associate Professor, The University of Sydney, NSW; Dragana Ceprnja, Senior Physiotherapist and Health Professional Educator, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Jan Davies, Consumer; Rosemerry Hodgkin, Consumer; Gillian Horton, Owner and Director, Colleen’s Lingerie and Swimwear, ACT; Ashleigh Mondolo, Clinical Nurse Consultant Breast Care Nurse, Mater Private Hospital South Brisbane, QLD; Dr Jane O’Brien, Specialist Oncoplastic Breast Cancer Surgeon, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, VIC; Moira Waters, Breast Care Nurse, Breast Cancer Care WA; Sharon Woolridge, Consumer; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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