Breast Reconstruction FAQs

If you’re considering breast reconstruction, it’s normal to have a lot of questions before your procedure. Below, you’ll find answers to some of our patients’ most commonly asked questions so you can be fully informed before it’s time for your own surgery.

Breast Reconstruction FAQs

Regarded as one of the best plastic surgeons in the San Diego area, breast reconstruction specialist Dr. Michael Halls and his staff focus on patient education so you feel confident about your decisions from consultation through your recovery and beyond. If you have any questions that are not answered below, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call (858) 458-0100 today to request a breast reconstruction consultation at La Jolla Breast Institute.

Am I a good candidate for breast reconstruction?

The best candidates for reconstructive breast surgery are facing a breast cancer diagnosis requiring surgical treatment, or may have already undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy previously and are only now pursuing reconstruction. You should be in good general physical and mental health, and have realistic expectations about your results. Although breast reconstruction can play a critical role in the emotional and physical healing process after breast cancer, the goal of reconstruction is to restore a symmetrical, feminine figure that helps you feel confident about your body rather than to recreate a perfect breast.

Will my reconstructed breast feel real?

The combination of today’s advanced surgical techniques and breast implants that look and feel more than ever like organic breast tissue mean a final breast reconstruction result that also looks and feels very natural. The texture of your reconstructed breast will vary depending on whether Dr. Halls performed implant based reconstruction or tissue based reconstruction, as well as how much natural breast tissue remains after your mastectomy. Most women are very pleased with the final results of their reconstructive breast surgery.

Can I schedule my breast reconstruction at the same time as my mastectomy?

Yes. Some women may prefer to begin the reconstruction process right away, which is known as immediate breast reconstruction. Immediate reconstruction can be tissue-based or may be performed using implants. Sometimes additional procedures may be needed after the initial surgery. For example, if tissue expanders are placed initially at the time of your mastectomy, you may need another surgery later on to exchange the expanders for your final breast implants. Immediate reconstruction allows for more control of the size and position of scars and can be used with skin and even nipple sparing mastectomies.

I’m not sure about breast reconstruction yet. Is it a bad idea to wait a little longer?

Choosing the proper timing for your breast reconstruction is a very personal decision that depends on your breast cancer treatment, your anatomy and your personal preference. Some women prefer to take immediate steps toward reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomy, while others may wait months or even years after cancer treatment before looking into their reconstruction options. Like immediate reconstruction, delayed reconstruction can be tissue-based or implant-based. There’s no one answer that works best for every woman; the best time for your own breast reconstruction is the time that feels right for you.

How “normal” will my reconstructed breast look?

As a reconstructive breast surgery specialist, Dr. Halls is familiar with every aspect of the reconstruction process, even pioneering a new technique that relocates the necessary scars after mastectomy so they’re not on the breast itself. Dr. Halls is completely committed to delivering superior results for your reconstruction that look as much like your natural breast as possible.

Which is better: implants or tissue-based reconstruction?

There isn’t one specific reconstruction technique that’s inherently better than another, only the option that may work better for meeting your particular goals and needs. Some women like the convenience of implant-based reconstruction, while others prefer reconstruction with their own tissue rather than using an implant. Dr. Halls will take the time to discuss your goals and your surgical options in great detail during your consultation so you’ll know that you’re making the decision that’s best for you.

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What about nipple reconstruction?

Nipple reconstruction is typically performed a few months after your breast reconstruction has fully healed, or after further cancer treatment like radiation is completed. Reconstruction of the nipple is a 2-part process. First, the dimensionality of the nipple is formed using the skin and tissue of your reconstructed breast. Next, the reconstructed nipple and surrounding areola are tattooed a darker shade, just like a natural nipple and areola look. Both steps are very brief and minor outpatient procedures, but together they can help you feel as if your reconstruction journey is finally complete.

Will insurance cover my breast reconstruction?

The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA), enacted in 1998, made coverage of reconstructive breast and nipple surgery mandatory by federal law. This means that any health insurance provider that offers coverage of a mastectomy or lumpectomy is also required to cover breast reconstruction, nipple reconstruction and any necessary cosmetic procedures on the opposite breast to ensure symmetry. The job of coordinating insurance coverage for breast reconstruction can be complex and time-consuming, but Dr. Halls’ staff is happy to help gather all the documentation you need to ensure that the process becomes as streamlined as possible.