Posted September 25, 2017
Breast Reconstruction is a very personal decision that a woman may consider during the time of a breast cancer diagnosis. With all of the information currently available regarding breast cancer and its treatment, we would like to present a timeline of the potential process involved with reconstruction.
1. Patient receives a diagnosis of breast cancer following a breast biopsy.
2. Patient would then be referred to a general surgeon and to an oncologist for further discussion. The patient may either be referred to a plastic surgeon by the general surgeon or she can request a consultation at this time with the plastic surgeon of her choice. Patients should look for a board certified plastic surgeon with a history or background in reconstructive surgery.
3. The plastic surgeon and the general surgeon would then coordinate with the patient for surgery.
4. During surgery, after removal of the breast(s), the plastic surgeon would place a temporary tissue expander under the chest muscle to begin creating a breast mound. The expander is filled at this time and several subsequent weekly fills start approximately 3-4 weeks after the initial mastectomy surgery.
5. Following surgery, the patient would then continue to be followed by the plastic surgeon and the oncologist as she may require chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. A radiation oncologist may also be necessary at this time depending on the final surgical pathology results.
6. The plastic surgeon would then determine the timing of the second stage of the reconstructive surgery that will follow once the oncologic treatments have been completed. This may be 6 months to 1 year following chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment. Nipple reconstruction is a possibility for many women and can be discussed, if desired, as a third stage of reconstruction.
7. In most cases the patient will continue to be followed on an annual basis by the plastic surgeon and the oncologist.
8. If reconstruction is not started at the initial surgery, a patient may consult with a plastic surgeon once she is healed and has finished her oncologic treatments. Reconstructive options can be discussed at that time.