Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure to rebuild the breast after a mastectomy. While a reconstructed breast will not look or feel exactly as it did before surgery, the goal is to create a breast that looks and feels as natural as possible.

There are two main types of reconstruction:

  • Implant reconstruction. The surgeon first places a tissue expander and later, in a separate procedure, replaces the expander with an implant.
  • Autologous reconstruction (also called free tissue transfer or free flap). The surgeon uses tissue from another area of the body to rebuild the breast. Some women have an implant along with autologous reconstruction to get the breast size they want.

Whether to have breast reconstruction is a personal choice. You don't need to decide right away. Some reconstruction patients begin the process when they have their mastectomy, while others wait months or even years.

You may find it helpful to speak with reconstruction patients about their experiences through our Peer Support Programs. You can also find books, articles and patient stories about breast reconstruction at the Patient and Family Cancer Support Center.