To achieve a more even result after breast cancer reconstruction, many balancing or matching procedures are offered. Insurance covers procedures performed on the healthy breast to improve symmetry with the reconstructed breast.
In general, matching procedures can lift, reduce, augment or alter the shape of the healthy breast to match the reconstructed side. These may include:
- Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
Patients with excess breast skin and downward-pointing nipples may wish to consider a breast lift, called mastopexy, to match the reconstructed side.
- Simultaneous Breast Augmentation and Lift (Augmentation Mastopexy)
In many forms of reconstruction, the breast appears fuller in the upper part of the breast compared to the nonreconstructed side. In these cases, a breast lift may be paired with an implant to increase the volume of the upper part of the breast. When a breast lift and augmentation are performed at the same time, the procedure is called augmentation mastopexy.
- Breast Augmentation
In patients with a small, healthy breast that has little excess skin, breast augmentation with an implant may be used to match the shape and volume of the reconstructed breast.
- Breast Reduction
In some cases, the reconstructed breast cannot match the volume of the healthy breast. In these cases, a breast reduction can be performed on the healthy breast to match the size and shape of the reconstructed side.
These procedures are performed under general anesthesia and take one to two hours to complete. Patients usually go home the same day and can return to work in one to two weeks.
Common side effects include bruising, swelling and initial irregularities in breast appearance. Delayed wound healing and infections may occur. If an implant is required, the implant can eventually leak or form an uncomfortable scar called a capsular contracture.