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Going Flat After Mastectomy

  • Basics
This section outlines the many options available and information about reconstructing breasts following mastectomy.

Choosing no reconstruction

After mastectomy, you have the option to leave your chest flat or have your breasts surgically reconstructed with implants or your own tissue. 

Studies have found that many physicians do not advise their mastectomy patients of all their options after mastectomy. Many women report seeing surgeons who assume that reconstruction is the answer for all women, and who fail to discuss the no-reconstruction choice. It is always good to research and understand your options before making your own decision. Whether you choose to go flat or to reconstruct, whatever you decide, the decision is very personal, and it is yours alone. 

You might decide against reconstruction if you:

  • want to avoid additional surgery.
  • want to return to your normal routine as quickly as possible.
  • are comfortable with the idea of a flat chest.
  • fear surgical complications or unsatisfactory reconstructive results.
  • know that you will need radiation after your mastectomy. (If you want to have reconstruction after radiation, your plastic surgeon can insert and inflate a tissue expander after your mastectomy to preserve your breast skin and shape for later reconstruction—this is called a “delayed-immediate” procedure.
  • are undecided about reconstruction at the time of your mastectomy.
  • have a health condition that precludes additional surgery.
  • have had a complication leading to the loss of a reconstructed breast.

If you later change your mind about reconstruction, your breasts can be recreated at any time in the future (your mastectomy scars will remain on your reconstructed breasts).

Updated 08/25/2018

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