Breast reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is surgery to recreate a breast following  surgery for breast cancer. It will restore breast balance and symmetry for women who have had onesided surgery, or can reconstruct both breasts if you have had bilateral mastectomy  to reduce your breast cancer risk.

Is Breast Reconstruction for me?

Breast cancer surgery can be life-saving, but the effects on your body contour can have an impact on your confidence and self-esteem. Some women want to avoid further surgery, and are content to live with their new bodies. However, many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction surgery to restore their breast(s) and their body image. 

Your consultant surgeon will discuss your goals and the results you hope to achieve to help you decide whether breast reconstruction is the right choice for you. They will consider your preference, your general health, your body shape and breasts, and the health of the skin and tissue on your breasts and any areas of the body that may be used to donate tissue, before recommending surgery targeted to your needs.

The procedure

Before going ahead, you’ll have a detailed consultation to discuss your goals, what results to expect and what the surgery and aftercare entails. Your surgeon will answer any questions and address any worries you may have.

The surgeons will perform breast reconstruction under general anaesthetic. Depending on your breast shape and body build, the specialists will choose between several procedures to recreate your breast. You may need one technique or a combination to achieve the best cosmetic result.

Reconstruction using your tissue: The surgeon can build a breast shape that looks and feels natural using tissue from your body. Flap reconstructions usually use muscle, fat and skin tissue from the abdomen or back to recreate a breast. Sometimes, tissue from the buttocks or thighs is used as an alternative. If your nipple was removed during mastectomy surgery, the surgeons can also recreate the shape of a nipple. Once the area has healed, tattooing can provide a more realistic appearance of the nipple and areola.  

Reconstruction using breast implants: The surgeons can recreate the breasts using implants. This can be particularly effective for women having reconstruction of both breasts. The highly-skilled surgeons insert the implant through a small incision in the skin, placing them under the chest muscle or between the muscle and the skin to form a new breast shape.

Chest wall perforator flaps: If you have had breast-conserving surgery such as a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy, the surgeons can reconstruct the breast using tissue from the chest wall. Research shows that this procedure can be very effective, particularly in women with small breasts with excellent outcomes and high patient satisfaction scores.

After your surgery, you will need to take time to rest and recover.  After flap reconstruction it can take 6-8 weeks before you are ready to fully return to exercise and normal activities. If you have a desk job, you should be able to get back to work at an earlier stage. 

If your reconstruction was with implants, recovery is usually quicker. You may need a week off work and should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for a month. 

The wounds take 6 weeks to heal, your surgeon may recommend you massage the scars on your reconstructed breast and any donor site with oil or moisturiser daily. This can improve the appearance of the scars and can help you readjust to your nes body.

Guide price

We welcome both self-paying patients and those covered by private health insurance. For further information and to discuss pricing and payment options, contact our referrals team on 020 7317 7751 or rf-tr.privateenquiries@nhs.net.

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