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Important Things to Know

Every patient should understand the following before undergoing breast reconstruction:

  • Breast reconstruction does not interfere with cancer treatment, detection or survival.
  • Breast reconstruction is available following mastectomy (complete removal of the breast) or lumpectomy (partial removal of the breast).
  • Breast reconstruction is almost always a staged process requiring more than one operation.
  • Breast reconstruction usually can be started at the time of mastectomy or lumpectomy, but it also may be performed many years later.
  • By federal law, any patient whose insurance covers mastectomy or lumpectomy is also covered for breast reconstruction. This includes procedures on the healthy breast to help balance it with the breast that underwent treatment for cancer.
  • The results from breast reconstruction will never be perfect. Outcomes vary depending on many factors, including the general health and physical size of a patient and her breasts. They also may be affected by the type of cancer treatment required and the number and types of reconstruction the patient undergoes.
  • While breast surgeons and reconstructive surgeons work closely together to optimize results for every patient, cancer care always takes priority over reconstruction.