• 31 July 2013

Actress Angelina Jolie recently revealed that, after learning that she was at high risk for breast cancer, she underwent a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. What is involved in breast reconstruction and what outcome can one expect from this procedure?

Breast Reconstruction Today

Jolie’s breast reconstruction was a three-part process conducted

over a period of three months. The first procedure was aimed at improving the likelihood of saving her nipples. She then had surgery to remove the breast tissue. Finally the actress had implants put in to return her breasts to their natural fullness.

Women who decide to undergo preventive double mastectomies and women who require breast reconstruction after breast cancer may be concerned about how they will look after the procedure. Consultation with a plastic surgeon will allow women to understand the options available to them today.

The ultimate goal for any breast reconstruction is to achieve the appearance of a natural breast when fully clothed. There are many ways to achieve this and the decision on techniques attempted is made in close consultation between the patient and their surgeon. The factors considered in the decision-making process include the individual’s health, body shape, and both the patient and the surgeon’s personal preferences and expectations.

There are a variety of techniques that can be used in performing a breast reconstruction procedure. There are advantages and disadvantages to each technique. One major decision is whether to use breast implants or the body’s own tissues instead. If implants are being considered, the surgeon and patient will discuss whether to use saline (sterile salt water) or silicone implants.

The plastic surgeon will discuss several options and factors during consultation. These include:

  • The number of operations to complete the breast reconstruction process;
  • How long the operations will take;
  • The length of stay in hospital;
  • Recovery time
  • Potential complications and risks associated with the procedure; and,
  • Level of sensation after the surgery.

The decision to undergo breast reconstruction is a personal one. Modern plastic surgery continues to improve the techniques available for this procedure. An experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon can answer any questions you might have if you are considering the procedure.