Immediate vs Delayed Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction does not increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence, impact prognosis or decrease survival.
With so much to think about after a breast cancer diagnosis, many patients facing mastectomy do not fully understand how the timing of breast reconstruction influences how the reconstructed breasts will ultimately look.
Breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy ("immediate reconstruction") or any time after the mastectomy ("delayed reconstruction"). When the mastectomy and reconstruction are performed at the same time, a skin-sparing can usually be performed which saves the majority of the natural breast skin envelope. Only the actual breast tissue under the skin is removed. The reconstruction then "fills" this empty skin envelope.
In many cases nipple-sparing mastectomy can be performed. This preserves the nipple and areola as well as the entire breast skin envelope. Nipple-sparing mastectomy is the latest evolution in mastectomy technique and provides the best cosmetic results without compromising cancer care.
Whether the reconstructive process is started at the same time as the mastectomy ("immediate") or some time after ("delayed'), it important for patients to realize that in most cases, further surgery is required to complete the reconstructive process and achieve the best results.