Royal Belgian Society

Types of breast reconstruction

One of the first decisions a patient must make with her plastic surgeon is what type of breast reconstruction she will undergo. Reconstruction is performed on either an immediate or delayed basis and generally falls into two categories, implant reconstruction or reconstruction using a patient's own tissue, which are often referred to as flap procedures. Factors to consider when choosing the right reconstructive option are type of mastectomy, cancer treatments, and the patient's body type.

Immediate versus delayed reconstruction

This decision should be made with your plastic surgeon prior to your mastectomy, and is usually based on your risk factors, information from your biopsy and other treatments you will undergo. 

  • Immediate reconstruction
    This type of reconstruction begins at the time of the mastectomy and has become the standard of care for most patients.

    Advantages
    Immediate post-mastectomy reconstruction offers the psychological and aesthetic advantage of waking from the mastectomy procedure with a lesser deformity and reconstruction well underway.

    Disadvantages
    Many women find the primary drawback of immediate reconstruction to be the longer surgery and recovery times. Also, subsequent radiation treatment can compromise the reconstructed tissue.


  • Delayed reconstruction

    Although some female patients find it emotionally difficult to go through life for a long period or a period of unknown duration without breast(s), a lot of women still believe that a late reconstruction gives them time to focus on the treatment and the search for the type of reconstruction that best meets their needs. The various techniques which will be further explained on this website, can also be used for them, taking into account the requirements related to certain surgical techniques. Furthermore, there are also some female patients with indications that the disease is in an advanced stage and that radiation therapy may be necessary as part of their treatment plan. A late reconstruction may then in some cases, allow for this additional treatment to perform faster.