Breast Reconstruction FAQs

Breast Reconstruction Questions & Answers

Many women choose to have breast reconstruction surgery if they’ve had to have one or both breasts removed due to breast cancer. It’s best to let your Mercy doctor know whether you’re thinking about breast reconstruction surgery before having one or both breasts removed. Find the answers to frequently asked questions about breast reconstruction below.

Acellular dermal matrix (ADM) is a mesh-like material derived from human skin that’s used in breast reconstruction. ADM can replace or augment missing skin and soft tissues. 

Breast reconstruction surgery usually starts with the insertion of a tissue expander or breast implant. Implants are usually placed either in front of or behind your pectoral muscles, while tissue expanders are placed over the pectoral muscles themselves. 

Once breast reconstruction surgery begins, it can last from 1 to 6 hours, depending on the procedures performed.

Pre-pectoral breast reconstruction is a procedure in which a breast implant is placed on top of the pectoral muscle and supported by an ADM.

It’s normal to experience some short-term pain after breast reconstruction surgery. Your Mercy doctor will work with you on pain management during the initial recovery period to make you as comfortable as possible.

The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act requires health plans to cover mastectomies, reconstructive surgery and post-mastectomy benefits like external breast prostheses or lymphedema treatment. Your insurance may only cover a portion of the total fees, so consult with your health plan before any surgery.

Drains are long tubes that are placed in your body to collect excess fluids that gather at the surgical site. Typically, drains will stay in your body at least 5 days after breast construction surgery, and in some cases remain in for up to 5 weeks. 

After breast reconstruction surgery, your breasts may not feel as soft and natural as they did before. And you may not have as much feeling in your breasts, but you may regain some sensation over time. 

Breast reconstruction doesn’t cause problems with finding and treating tumors if breast cancer returns. And studies show reconstruction doesn’t cause breast cancer recurrence.

Whether you decide to pursue breast reconstruction following a mastectomy is, in most cases, a matter of personal choice. But many women choose to have the surgery to restore their body’s natural image.