If I am advised to have a mastectomy, what are the risks and benefits of immediate breast reconstruction?

If a mastectomy is necessary, immediate reconstruction offers a great psychological benefit to most women. However, as is often the case in medicine, there are trade-off risks which must be considered. If the reconstruction is done during the same surgery as the mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), the final results of the pathology tests on the removed tumor and tissue is not yet known and will not be known for at least a day or two.

There are sometimes findings on the final pathology report which make chest-wall radiation advisable in order to reduce the risk of local recurrence. If a prosthesis for the breast has been implanted, the radiation treatment will still work, but the radiation may significantly compromise the cosmetic appearance of the prosthesis. There may also be healing problems which delay chemotherapy, potentially increasing the risk of breast-cancer recurrence. These and other factors should be discussed and carefully considered before committing to immediate breast reconstruction.

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