Breast Reconstruction Timing

When faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer, women often feel pressured to make a number of decisions right away, including the decision about when their breast reconstruction should be performed. However, there are actually two options for your reconstructive surgery timing: immediate or delayed. Since either approach can offer a beautiful final result, the primary focus lies in choosing the option that’s right for you.

Breast Reconstruction Timing

Breast reconstruction specialist Dr. Michael Halls is a board certified plastic surgeon who is well-known throughout the San Diego area after over 25 years in active practice delivering superior results. In addition to breast and nipple reconstruction, Dr. Halls also offers a full range of cosmetic breast enhancement procedures for women who want to enhance their figure.

Please contact us online or call La Jolla Breast Institute today at (858) 458-0100 to schedule your breast reconstruction surgery consultation.

Why Choose Dr. Halls

Dr. Halls graduated Cum Laude from the University of Western Ontario in Canada as a member of the elite Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He continued on to complete seven additional years of training in plastic surgery residency and fellowships, including two years at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Halls has published extensively in prestigious medical journals over the past three decades, including a paper on his innovative SIDA approach toward reconstructive breast surgery, which relocates the mastectomy scar to the natural fold below the breast to reduce surface breast scars. Together with his staff, Dr. Halls is committed to a patient-first philosophy that focuses on education and professional guidance so women receive the support they need to make the best decisions about their health.

About Breast Reconstruction Timing

Immediate breast reconstruction is performed at the same time as your lumpectomy or mastectomy, while delayed breast reconstruction may be scheduled weeks, months or even years after your initial breast cancer treatment. There are many reasons why women may prefer one of these options over the other, although most women are candidates for either approach.

The factors that need to be considered in planning the best timing for your breast reconstruction include your stage of breast cancer diagnosis, tumor size and whether additional treatments like radiation are recommended following surgery, along with your own personal preference. You also have the choice of implant based reconstruction or tissue based reconstruction, either of which can be performed immediately or later on. Dr. Halls’ focus is on finding the solution that works best with your own cosmetic goals and health needs, and this can be different for every woman.

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Visiting our patient photo gallery to see real women before and after undergoing immediate or delayed breast reconstruction can give you a better idea of what kind of results you can expect to see after your own reconstructive surgery. You can also find answers to commonly asked questions about breast reconstruction surgery in our Breast Reconstruction FAQs.

Immediate Breast Reconstruction

An immediate breast reconstruction begins at the same time as your mastectomy, and offers the most flexibility for managing breast scars. When reconstruction is planned as part of breast cancer surgery, options like skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomy can be considered in the right candidates. Immediate reconstruction also allows for Dr. Halls’ SIDA procedure in women with larger breasts who wish to avoid the appearance of surface breast scars.

Currently, more women prefer immediate breast reconstruction, particularly due to the convenience of combining both surgeries into one procedure with one recovery period. The primary advantage of immediate breast reconstruction is the increased probability of a better final cosmetic result. Immediate breast reconstruction may also help alleviate feelings of grief associated with the loss of a breast, and relieves concerns over living with an abnormal breast appearance for a period of time.

Delayed Breast Reconstruction

Although immediate reconstruction can be appealing for many reasons, combining reconstructive surgery with a mastectomy isn’t right for every woman. Some women may feel that researching reconstruction techniques on top of facing cancer treatment adds too much stress to an already challenging time. Delayed breast reconstruction gives you more time to make a final decision and learn more about all the choices available to you without feeling pressured to meet a deadline.

The main benefit of delayed breast reconstruction is that any further cancer treatments can be fully completed prior to reconstructive surgery, which makes reconstruction the final step in your cancer journey. However, delaying breast reconstruction can increase the technical challenges faced during surgery due to the presence of matured breast scars and/or irradiated soft tissues.

Recovery & Results

Both delayed and immediate breast reconstruction can create a reconstructed breast that looks and feels very natural. Either choice for reconstruction may require additional procedures later on, such as nipple reconstruction.

Dr. Halls will ask you to wear a supportive surgical bra at the appropriate time after your reconstruction to help you feel more comfortable during recovery and promote proper healing of your new breast. Swelling and the appearance of breast scars will both diminish over time and many women find they can return to desk-type work when they feel comfortable (generally within 2 to3 weeks after surgery). However, absolutely no heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or exercise should be resumed until released to do so by Dr. Halls.

Following immediate or delayed breast reconstruction, your reconstructed breast shape should restore a feminine symmetry to your appearance and negate the need for special mastectomy bras or breast forms. Along with an improved body image, many women find that the process of reconstructive surgery gives them a positive way to move forward after a breast cancer diagnosis.