Immediate or delayed reconstruction?

One of the NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) guidelines recommendations are that all women should be offered the chance of a high quality reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomy (known as an Immediate Reconstruction).
A Delayed Reconstruction is when the breast reconstruction is performed weeks, months, or even years after the initial mastectomy.

So, what are the main advantages of Immediate Breast Reconstruction?

An Immediate Reconstruction offers multiple advantages both for the patient and for their surgical team. This includes cutting down on the possibility of multiple surgeries, by bringing as much treatment as possible into one major surgery, one hospital stay and one recovery time.
An Immediate Reconstruction moves the patient faster along their journey of rebuilding: it reinforces the positive psychological aspect and reduces trauma as the patient wakes up to find they still have a good breast shape, thereby avoiding the issue of having to live without a breast.

Cosmetically, the results of an Immediate Reconstruction are often better than a Delayed Reconstruction, because more of the skin can be preserved and scarring is usually lessened.

When might Delayed Reconstruction be recommended?

A Delayed Reconstruction may be recommended in certain types of breast cancer, such as inflammatory breast cancer. Another reason might be due to patients\’ personal preferences. Some people may prefer to go through (or are advised to go through) their full cancer treatment and mastectomy first, to allow themselves time to heal and to adjust to the emotional and physical changes before making another big decision. And breast reconstruction is one decision that does not have to be made until months or even years later.

How quickly do I have to make a decision?

Once a cancer diagnosis is made and the decision of mastectomy confirmed, all efforts are made to treat the patient as quickly as possible. This means being referred to a plastic surgeon too.

When choosing an Immediate Breast Reconstruction, there could possibly be a short wait for your surgery, as two teams of surgeons are normally involved (cancer and plastic) and dates need to be lined-up. Therefore, the earlier a decision can be made, the better.