Cosmetic Surgery Tips

How long after radiation can i have breast reconstruction

Whether you’re looking to have breast reconstruction after radiation, or you’re simply curious about the process and its timeline, we’ve got answers for you!

The short answer is: Despite what many people think, it’s possible to have breast reconstruction after radiation. The best way to go about it is by consulting with a qualified plastic surgeon who has experience in this area. We recommend that patients wait at least six months after their last radiation treatment before undergoing any reconstruction surgery. The main reason for this recommendation is that radiation can cause changes in the skin tissue around the breast, which may affect how well your reconstructed breasts will look at the end of your treatment.

How long after radiation can i have breast reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is the rebuilding of a natural-looking breast after a mastectomy. It can involve implants or tissue from your own body, and it can be done at the same time as the mastectomy or at a later date. This last option is called delayed breast reconstruction. While most patients choose immediate reconstruction to avoid having to undergo two surgeries, there are some advantages that come with deciding to wait.

What is Breast Reconstruction?

What is Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction surgery is a procedure that restores the shape and size of the breast after it has been removed as part of a mastectomy. This procedure can be performed using different methods, depending on your needs.

The goal of breast reconstruction is to give you a new bust that looks and feels like it belongs to your body. This will allow you to feel more confident while in public, or when with family or friends. The process may take several months and requires patience from both yourself and your doctor because it’s not something that can be rushed into easily!

Immediate Breast Reconstruction

Immediate reconstruction is a surgical procedure that is done at the same time as a mastectomy. The breast cancer surgery removes the breast tissue and lymph nodes, but in this case, it also simultaneously reconstructs the breast using your own tissue. This type of reconstruction can be performed with either an implant or your own tissue (the latter known as autologous).

Immediate breast reconstruction is utilized by doctors when they are concerned about additional complications that could arise if they waited until after radiation therapy to perform it. It also allows them to see how well your body will accept these implants or transplanted tissues before making any permanent decisions on what kind of implant you should use or what kind of tissues were used in your immediate reconstruction surgery.

Delayed Breast Reconstruction

Delayed breast reconstruction is a good option if you have time to consider your options and can wait until your reconstructive surgery.

  • Time after radiation: You can usually have delayed breast reconstruction 6-9 months after radiation, provided that the tumor has been removed and your tissue is healthy.
  • How long does delayed breast reconstruction take? Delayed breast reconstruction takes about 3 hours on average and can be done under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation.
  • How long does delayed breast reconstruction last? Delayed breast reconstruction lasts for years as long as it’s done well by an experienced plastic surgeon who uses durable implant materials

Do I Qualify for Delayed Breast Reconstruction?

You may be a good candidate for delayed breast reconstruction if you have:

  • Been diagnosed with breast cancer and completed radiation therapy.

Delayed breast reconstruction can also be considered in women who have had a partial mastectomy or lumpectomy surgery, but are waiting to complete treatment on the remaining tissue before having their reconstructed breasts. The most common reason why women choose delayed breast reconstruction is because they want to get rid of any cancer cells that may remain in their body before undergoing surgery. Delayed breast reconstruction allows doctors to evaluate whether there are remaining cancerous cells before performing the procedure.

In some cases, it’s possible that your doctor will recommend immediate reconstruction if your case is urgent or if there aren’t enough healthy tissues left after your initial surgery due to radiation therapy damage. This doesn’t happen often though; most patients should be able to wait for delayed breast reconstructions as long as they’re healthy enough for one

Advantages of Delayed Breast Reconstruction

You should consider delayed breast reconstruction if:

  • You want a less invasive procedure. Delayed breast reconstruction is a less invasive option because the tissue isn’t being taken from your body and then re-implanted.
  • You want to avoid incisions. The scars associated with delayed brastectomies are generally smaller than those associated with immediate surgery because they aren’t cut during surgery, but rather after it is complete. This can also reduce pain in the days following your procedure as you won’t need to worry about recovery from incisions being made on top of healing wounds.
  • You don’t have time for immediate surgery and would rather wait until things die down or settle down before having this done so that you can focus on healing properly instead of rushing into it when maybe all you really needed was some space, rest and relaxation instead of adding another thing onto a list already full of tasks needing completion before moving forward again!

Disadvantages of Delayed Breast Reconstruction

  • Disadvantages of Delayed Breast Reconstruction

There are some disadvantages to waiting to have your breast reconstruction surgery after radiation therapy. First, your recovery time will be longer than someone who has immediate surgery. This is because the skin around your chest area will be very sensitive after radiation treatment and may not heal properly if you wait too long before having reconstruction. In addition, there is a chance that you may need another surgery if the tissue does not heal correctly or if there are complications from radiation therapy. Because of these risks, it’s best for patients who were treated with radiation to have their reconstructions within three months of treatment completion so that they can avoid further complications down the road.

If you’re worried about how long after radiation treatment will work best for your situation, talk with your doctor about what they think would be ideal given your unique case history and medical history

A delayed breast reconstruction can be a good option for some patients.

The decision to have a delayed breast reconstruction can be a good option for some patients. In many cases, a delayed breast reconstruction may not be medically necessary and could be done at your own convenience. However, if you are experiencing pain or fatigue after your cancer treatment, it is important to see your doctor so that he or she can determine whether or not surgery is right for you.

If the decision has been made that you are ready to undergo delayed breast reconstruction, there are several factors that should be considered before scheduling your procedure:

  • Your financial situation and insurance coverage will likely play an important role in determining when it’s best for you to have surgery on your reconstructed breasts. If these concerns are preventing you from scheduling an appointment with a surgeon immediately after completing radiation therapy, then it may make sense for someone else (a family member or friend) who does not have these same concerns about timing their finances around insurance policies so that they can help pay for any costs associated with the procedure itself. This way everyone gets what they need without putting anyone else out financially unnecessarily so much as possible!

If you have had a mastectomy and would like to talk about options for breast reconstruction, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

How painful is delayed breast reconstruction

Delayed Breast Reconstruction

When a woman is first diagnosed with breast cancer, her only concern is beating it and getting better. It is a frightening and overwhelming time. Once she has a mastectomy to remove the breast(s) and feels more confident about her survival, thoughts may turn to preserving her femininity. Women who decide to have reconstructive surgery need to consider whether to have it at the same time as the mastectomy or to delay it. Neither option is right or wrong. It is only a matter of what works best for each individual woman and what her surgeon recommends.

The surgeon will have a good idea of the extent of the patient’s breast cancer based on the results of her biopsy, mammograms and other imaging modalities. However, it is impossible to know the full impact of the cancer until after the mastectomy has been completed. The surgeon will also evaluate the patient’s lymph nodes before surgery. Some patients with more advance cancer may have a mass felt in her axilla or those lymph nodes may look prominent on her preoperative imagery. For these advanced cancers a delayed approach may be the best option. Also other body shapes may be better treated with a delayed reconstruction.

Other Pros and Cons to Consider

One advantage of delaying breast reconstruction is that it gives patients the chance to just focus on treatment. It also provides time to research the various reconstructive options available. The obvious downside is living without breasts in the interim. If this is a major concern, patients should ask about the possibility of receiving temporary prosthetics.

While immediate reconstruction can lessen the emotional impact of a mastectomy, it is not without risks. The biggest one is that the woman may need radiation later and this is likely to damage the new breasts. Immediate reconstruction also requires a longer surgery and recovery period. Even when a patient opts for immediate reconstruction, it may require several surgical procedures to achieve the desired results.

Recovery from Delayed Breast Reconstruction Surgery

It is normal to feel sore and tired for up to two weeks after implant surgery to reconstruct the breasts. It is longer after a flap surgery due to two surgical sites on the body that need to recover. Upon discharge, the surgeon will provide the patient with a prescription for narcotic painkillers. Additionally, she will learn how to empty her own surgical drain. This is a small tube located inside of the wound that catches extra fluid while the body heals.

The recovery expectation for flap surgery is six to eight weeks. This is usually shorter for implant surgery. Bruising and swelling may remain for this entire time. Women should not feel alarmed when they do not feel normal sensations in the reconstructed breasts. This is normal, and it can take years for these feelings to return or may never completely return. Wearing a surgical bra 24 hours a day helps to support the new breasts and ultimately allows healing to progress faster. It is best to avoid underwire bras after recovery since they can aggravate the skin and scars.

Breast reconstruction patients should avoid intense physical activities for up to six weeks as well as overhead lifting. Most women are ready to return to work eight weeks after surgery or a bit earlier.

Recovery from the Double Surgery

Most patients spend a day or two in the hospital after a mastectomy and simultaneous breast reconstruction. This is usually with a drainage tube in place that pulls blood and body fluids from the surgical site and pushes them to an external collection device. The nurse will show the patient how to empty it before she leaves the hospital. The greatest amount of discharge takes place during the first 24 hours and will continue to decrease until stopping altogether after about a week or two.

Incisions from the surgery must be kept dry for at least three days. That means patients need to avoid showers and baths for the first three days. A surgical wrap holds the reconstruction in place, which patients should wear continuously until Dr. Jackson directs them to stop. Patients will learn how to change their own dressings and should do this once a day during this time frame. Preferably, another person, such as a loved one, can help with this.

The surgeon will send the patient home with prescription-strength medication for pain. It is important to take this medication and avoid anything with aspirin or aspirin products for at least the first three days since this increases the risk of bleeding. Bruising, numbness, tingling, and general discomfort should disappear after several days.

Performing arm exercises and getting up to walk around can start the day after surgery. However, strenuous workouts must wait several weeks. Patients vary considerably on the amount of time needed to recover. Some are able to return to work within two weeks and others need six weeks or longer at home to recover from a mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction.

What is the best reconstruction after mastectomy

What is breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is surgery to recreate breasts after mastectomy or lumpectomy. Sometimes reconstruction takes several surgeries. There are many breast reconstruction techniques. Some use silicone or saline breast implants. Other techniques use a flap of tissue from your body (such as tissue from the lower belly).

Breast reconstruction can happen right after breast cancer surgery (immediate reconstruction). Or it can happen months or years later (delayed reconstruction). You may have surgery to reconstruct both breasts. Or your provider may replace one breast and reshape it to match the other. Your provider may recommend multiple surgeries over several stages.

Some people choose to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, but many don’t. The decision to have breast reconstruction is very personal.

What are the types of breast reconstruction surgery?

There are two main types of breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomies.

Flap reconstruction

In flap reconstruction, your surgeon takes tissue from your own body (autologous tissue) and uses it to form a breast. Usually, they take the tissue from the lower abdomen (belly). But it can also come from your thigh, back or bottom.

Your surgeon may remove fat, skin, blood vessels and muscle from these parts of your body to form a new breast. Healthcare providers call this tissue a flap. Sometimes, surgeons move a flap through your body (pedicled flap). This way the flap retains its own blood supply. Or they may detach the flap from its blood supply (free flap) and attach it to blood vessels in your chest.

The types of flap reconstruction include:

  • DIEP flap: Your provider takes skin, fat and blood vessels from the lower belly. A DIEP flap does not remove the underlying abdominal (belly) muscle.
  • TRAM flap: Your provider removes skin, fat, blood vessels and muscle from the lower belly.
  • Latissimus dorsi (LD) flap: Providers remove tissue and muscle from the back. They transplant the LD flap (still connected to its own blood supply) through the back to the breast area.
  • IGAP flap: For this procedure, tissue comes from your butt. Muscle isn’t used in this procedure.
  • SGAP flap: This technique also removes tissue (not muscle) from your butt. It uses a different group of blood vessels than the IGAP flap procedure.
  • PAP flap: Your surgeon removes tissue from the inner and back of your thigh and uses it to form a breast. This procedure does not transplant muscle from your thigh.
  • TUG flap: Similar to a PAP flap, this technique uses tissue from your thigh. A TUG flap transplants muscle as well as tissue.
  • SIEA flap (or SIEP flap): This procedure is like a DIEP flap, but it uses different blood vessels. Providers don’t use this technique as often. Few people have the blood vessels necessary for the surgery to be successful.

Implant reconstruction

In implant reconstruction, surgeons use saline or silicone implants to recreate breast tissue. Sometimes surgeons use a combination of implants and tissue from your body. Implant reconstruction can happen along with a mastectomy. Or you may choose to have this procedure after a mastectomy.

The types of implant reconstruction are:

  • Under the chest muscle: Your surgeon lifts up the chest muscle and places the implant underneath it.
  • Above the chest muscle: Your surgeon places the implant on top of the chest muscle. You may not need as much recovery time because your chest muscle remains in place.
  • Implant with tissue expander: Your surgeon places an expander under your skin. About once per week, you or your healthcare provider fills the expander with saline. Your skin gradually expands (stretches). Your surgeon will place the implant once your skin has expanded enough to cover it.

Oncoplastic reconstruction after lumpectomy

If you are a candidate for lumpectomy, you may benefit from oncoplastic reconstruction. Your oncologic breast surgeon will help you know if you are a candidate for breast conservation. However, you’ll require radiation when a lumpectomy is performed.

In oncoplastic reconstruction, surgeons use the techniques of breast reduction or breast lift at the same time as the lumpectomy. The breast reduction or breast lift helps to fill in the defect created by the lumpectomy and improves the breast shape. You’ll need a breast reduction or lift on the other breast for symmetry.

Can a nipple be reconstructed?

Some types of mastectomy leave the nipple and areola in place (nipple-sparing mastectomy). The areola is the dark skin surrounding the nipple. If necessary, providers can create a new nipple. They do this by transferring skin from another part of your body (skin graft) or local skin on the breast to shape into a nipple.

Some people choose to get a 3D tattoo of an areola after nipple reconstruction. Specially trained tattoo artists create realistic images of an areola.

How do I know what type of breast reconstruction surgery to get?

Your provider will recommend the most appropriate technique for you based on:

  • Your age, overall health and lifestyle.
  • The kind of mastectomy or lumpectomy you had and how much tissue remains.
  • Whether you need additional treatments for breast cancer (such as chemotherapy or radiation).
  • Past surgeries you’ve had that may make it difficult or impossible to take a flap from your belly. One example is abdominal surgery.
  • Your goals and desired appearance.

What does breast reconstruction treat?

Most often, breast reconstruction happens after surgery to treat or prevent breast cancer. Providers use it to reshape breasts and rebuild damaged or missing tissue. They may also perform this surgery to restore symmetry. This means they make both breasts the same size and shape. Less commonly, providers reconstruct breast tissue that results from congenital abnormalities (birth defects).

After a mastectomy, it’s normal to mourn the loss of your breast. Breast reconstruction surgery helps many people manage these strong emotions and move forward.


What happens before breast reconstruction surgery?

Breast reconstruction happens after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. If you have breast cancer, you may also need chemotherapy or radiation before breast reconstruction surgery. Your surgeon will ask you about your goals and discuss your surgical options with you.

First, your surgeon will conduct a comprehensive examination. They will measure and take photographs of your breasts. Tell your provider about your health, medications you take and any surgeries you’ve had. Your provider may ask you to stop taking certain medications before the procedure.

What happens during breast reconstruction surgery?

A surgeon will perform your breast reconstruction surgery in a hospital. Your provider gives you anesthesia, so you’ll be asleep and you won’t feel any pain during the surgery. If you’re having a mastectomy or lumpectomy, your surgeon will do that procedure first.

While you’re still asleep, your surgeon performs the breast reconstruction. If you’re getting implant reconstruction, they place the implant in your chest. If you’re having a flap procedure, they take tissue from one part of your body, form and place the new breast.

During surgery, your provider may insert a drain (a thin tube) under your skin. One end of the tube sticks out from your chest. The tube drains fluid and blood as you recover. Your provider will remove the tubes when you don’t need them anymore.

What happens after breast reconstruction surgery?

After surgery, you may need to stay in the hospital for up to a week. Your team of providers will watch you to ensure you’re healing. You may wear a surgical bra. As your breasts heal, the bra supports your breasts and reduces swelling. When it’s time to go home, your provider will give you instructions detailing how to care for yourself.

Your provider will help you manage pain after surgery. They may recommend prescription or over-the-counter pain medication. Follow your provider’s instructions carefully when taking medication.

If you had reconstruction on one breast, you may need more surgery to make your breasts match. This may include breast reduction surgery or breast augmentation.


What are the advantages of breast reconstruction surgery?

Breast reconstruction surgery can improve self-confidence after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. After breast reconstruction, many people feel better about how their clothes fit. They may also feel more comfortable wearing a swimsuit.

Many people choose not to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. Instead, they wear a breast form (prosthesis) inside a special bra. They may also choose to “go flat” and not wear prosthetic breasts. The decision is very personal and varies from person to person.

What are the risks or complications of breast reconstruction surgery?

As with any surgical procedure, risks of breast reconstruction include infection and bleeding. Results vary depending on the type of procedure and how much tissue remained after breast cancer surgery and radiation.

After surgery, you’ll probably have little or no sensation in your newly reconstructed breasts. Over time, you may regain some sensation in the skin. But it won’t feel like it did before.

Complications of breast reconstruction surgery may include:

  • Blood clots. These may be more likely to happen after some types of flap reconstruction surgeries.
  • Breasts that are a different size or shape. One may feel more firm than the other. The nipples and areolas may not be symmetrical.
  • Bruising or scarring around the reconstructed breasts. All breast reconstruction surgeries leave scars. They may fade over time.
  • Fat necrosis. Death of the transplanted tissue after flap surgery.
  • Problems with the implants (for implant reconstruction). These problems can include wrinkling, rippling and ruptures (tears) in the implant.
  • Weakness, pain or sensitivity at the donor site after a flap reconstruction procedure. Donor sites may include the lower belly, thigh, back or bottom.

Do implants carry extra risk?

Some implants may increase the risk of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare form of cancer. Most of these implants are no longer on the market in the United States. Ask your provider about the risk of developing ALCL after implant surgery.


When can I go back to my usual activities after breast reconstruction surgery?

Everyone recovers from surgery differently. Your recovery time depends on several factors. These include your overall health and the type of procedure you had.

You will need to avoid lifting, exercising or doing some activities for a while to give your body time to heal. Talk to your provider about when you can get back to the activities you enjoy.

Cancer can return after breast reconstruction surgery. See your provider for regular checkups. If you had one breast reconstructed, you’ll need regular mammograms on the other breast to check for cancer.


When should I see my healthcare provider about breast reconstruction surgery?

Call your provider right away if you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever.
  • Severe pain or pain that doesn’t get better with medications.
  • Bleeding or fluid (pus) coming from the incisions.
  • Changes in color on the breast or near the incisions.

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