Your Decision

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UCLA Health’s Breast care specialists develop a personalized plan to help you recover. For more information, reach a cancer care specialist at 888-662-8252

When you lose a breast to cancer, it is comforting to think you can replace it and look and feel almost normal again. However, treating the cancer and getting back to a healthy life should always be your first concerns.

If you are able to have breast reconstruction, make your decision about whether to have reconstruction, when to have reconstruction, and what kind of reconstruction to have based on what is best for you. A new breast is unlikely to change your life or make others treat you differently. Your doctor, family, and friends may offer suggestions, but you are the one who is going to have to live with your choice every day. Try to make a decision that you can feel good about for a lifetime.

How Will Breast Reconstruction Affect My Life?

Breast reconstruction may help you to feel better about your body: you may feel more "normal," "balanced," and feminine. It may also help you to be able to wear more kinds of clothes with convenience and comfort.

Some women are afraid that if the breast cancer returns, it will be harder to detect the tumor through a reconstructed breast than through a mastectomy scar. However, there is no need to fear difficulties with cancer detection. Current evidence indicates that it is no more difficult to find and treat cancer through a reconstructed breast than it is through a mastectomy scar.

If you are thinking about breast reconstruction and are interested in breastfeeding your children, you should know that you cannot breastfeed from a reconstructed breast. The parts of the breast that deliver milk are the most likely parts to develop cancer and are therefore removed during the mastectomy.
Having breast reconstruction may cause you some inconvenience during the period after the surgery. It will take time to recover, and there may be additional treatments or follow-up surgeries. Depending on which kind of breast reconstruction you choose, you may need up to six months or a year to fully return to your normal life.

Only you can decide whether the mental and physical benefits of having a new breast are worth the costs of having the surgery.

Many women choose to have breast reconstruction. Some women feel more natural and balanced with a reconstructed breast. There are two major kinds of breast reconstruction: