Introduction to breast reconstruction

updated 6-20

The most common indication for partial or total breast reconstruction is ablative surgery following breast cancer. However, patients with developmental abnormalities (under-development, breast asymmetry, tuberous breast deformity), congenital malformations (breast absence, Poland’s syndrome) or breast deformities following trauma or infection, can also benefit from the same reconstructive techniques as breast cancer patients. Recently, patients with genetic mutations that significantly increase the risk of breast cancer, are forming an increasingly significant group, as precise tools for genetic screening become available.

The obligation of care providers to inform about breast reconstruction

In our opinion, every patient diagnosed with breast cancer or at risk of developing the disease, should be fully informed about the reconstructive options available. Unfortunately, the only country compelled to provide this information to breast cancer patients by federal law is the United States. In many other developed countries, doctors and allied health care professionals provide insufficient information to breast cancer patients due to a lack of training, ignorance or a personal belief that breast reconstruction is unnecessary. Approximately 50 % of breast cancer patients has a strong initial interest in breast reconstruction following ablative surgery. Although approximately half of this group of patients decide not to proceed, the fact the option has been offered, conveys an important psychological benefit.

Detailed information should be provided on all techniques, in particular the differences between reconstruction with implants (or expanders) and reconstruction with autologous tissue.

If a woman decides against breast reconstruction, the other alternatives should be discussed. Wearing an external prosthesis, the advantages and disadvantages of breast conservation therapy and the different types of mastectomy should all be clearly explained.


Below you will find a video giving a clear summary on the reconstructive options after breast cancer (source: