Breast Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

25. How and when is breast reconstruction done?

Breast reconstruction, surgery to rebuild a breast's shape, is often an option after mastectomy. Some health insurance plans pay for all or part of the cost of breast reconstruction. Often, they will pay for surgery to the other breast so that both breasts are about the same shape and size.

If you are thinking about reconstruction, you should talk with a plastic surgeon before your mastectomy. Some women begin reconstruction at the same time as they have the mastectomy done. Others wait several months or even years. Although the reconstructed breast will not have natural sensation, the surgery can give you a result that looks like a breast.

The reconstructed breast may be made with the patient's own, non-breast tissue or by using implants filled with saline or silicone gel. The Food and Drug Administration has decided that breast implants filled with silicone gel may be used only in clinical trials. Before making the decision to get an implant, a woman can call the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiologic Health at 1-888-INFO-FDA or 1-888-463-6332 for more information.