Women generally have mastectomies for two reasons: a therapeutic mastectomy to treat breast cancer or a prophylactic mastectomy to prevent it.
Most women who have mastectomies are eligible for breast reconstruction, which is a surgery to rebuild the breasts. Breast reconstruction can be done with or without breast implants.
The decision to undergo breast reconstruction is a very personal one, and not every woman chooses to have breast reconstruction. If you decide to undergo breast reconstruction surgery, it is important you understand the risks and benefits, and have realistic expectations of the outcome of your surgery so that you can be comfortable and confident with your decision. One of your most important resources through this process is your plastic surgeon, the doctor who will perform the breast reconstruction surgery. He or she will be able to explain the benefits and potential risks associated with breast reconstruction, and what approach may be best for you.
Breast surgery can greatly change the shape and appearance of a woman’s breast. When a woman has a mastectomy, whether therapeutic or prophylactic, all the breast tissue and some of the skin, including the nipple and areola, may be removed. For some women, a newer technique, called a “nipple-sparing mastectomy” may be an option. The remaining tissue and skin may be more sensitive because of the surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation treatments.