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Breast Health After Reconstructive Surgery

There are many decisions to think about when considering breast reconstructive surgery. Talk with your doctor to fully understand the risks and benefits of the procedure.

There are many things to take into consideration when deciding to have breast reconstructive surgery. Common questions are "Will the surgery cause the cancer to come back?" or "Will the implant or tissue flap make it more difficult to find a cancer recurrence?" Here is some helpful information to ease your fears:

Cancer recurrence
According to the National Cancer Institute, breast reconstructive surgery does not make cancer come back. The procedure does not prevent or encourage cancer recurrence. The amount of natural tissue that is original to the breast and chest area after a mastectomy may affect your likelihood of redeveloping the disease, but an implant or flap used in reconstructive surgery will not cause your cancer to return. According to the American Cancer Society they do, however, carry individual risks. An implant has the potential to rupture or leak, and both complications involve extra surgeries with unique risks like scarring and infection. Talk with your doctor about your likelihood of recurrence and to learn preventative measures.

Mammograms
According to Breastcancer.org, doctors may recommend women who have had a unilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction to have annual mammograms on the breast that was not rebuilt. Individuals who have had a bilateral mastectomy but are at high risk of the disease may also want to consider yearly screenings. Patients who have partial mastectomies are often recommended to have annual screenings as well, as they still have natural breast tissue that could have a recurrence of cancer. Talk with your physician about his or her recommendations for mammograms after reconstructive surgery. You may be asked to take special precautions like informing the radiology technician that you have had the procedure and have implants so that he or she is extra thorough. This may require taking more images than is typical. It is highly unlikely that the surgery will hide a cancer recurrence, but additional images may be helpful to get the best view of your entire breast.

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