Image of woman smiling after post-breast cancer reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is an important component to the treatment of breast cancer.

Since 2000, breast reconstruction surgery performed in the United States has increased by over 20%. Several factors have influenced this trend; federal law protecting breast reconstruction as a covered procedure by insurance companies is one. However, the trend has also been on the rise as it has been found that breast reconstruction does not increase a women’s likelihood of developing a recurrent breast cancer, nor does increase her risk of mortality.

At the same time, breast reconstruction has the immeasurable benefits of restoring a woman’s sense of wholeness and well-being, and improving her overall quality of life. A woman can choose to use a prosthesis and a post-mastectomy bra after mastectomy. However, if she chooses to proceed with reconstruction, the two main types are implant-based, typically using a combination of tissue expanders followed by implants, or tissue-based, involving the use of a woman’s own skin and fatty tissue in the form of a flap.

Many factors influence the type of reconstruction that may be best for a patient. These factors can include the stage of disease, need for chemotherapy, need for radiation therapy, smoking history, other medical problems, and body mass index.


Some other facts to be aware of:

  • Reconstruction can be performed at the time of mastectomy, also known as “immediate,” or at a later time, in a “delayed” fashion. Even if a woman forgoes reconstruction at the time of diagnosis, she can have a reconstruction at any time later.
  • Insurance covers surgery of the non-cancerous breast in order to provide symmetry.
  • Reconstructive surgery can be used to repair a partial breast defect after a lumpectomy, sometimes in the form of a breast reduction.
  • If the nipple and areola are removed with a mastectomy (a woman may, in certain cases, be a candidate for a nipplesparing mastectomy), tattooing can be used to restore these components of the breast.
  • Many women are eager to share their reconstructive experiences to guide new patients through the process.

To make an appointment and discuss your options, please call 718-960-3730.

Dr. Heather A. Erhard