How do I decide on reconstructive surgery and when to have it?

First, you will need to decide when or if you want to have breast reconstruction. You may want an immediate reconstruction, or you may want to wait to decide which type of reconstruction is right for you, or you may not want to have reconstruction at all.

There are no right answers - only what's right for you. If you will be considering breast reconstruction at any point, you should see a plastic surgeon before your initial surgery. You should also bear in mind that breast reconstruction almost always involves more than one surgery, including nipple reconstruction if you choose it, and possibly surgery on the other breast to make the body symmetrical. Talk to your doctors about the best and worst possible outcomes for your reconstruction. You can have immediate reconstruction in which you wake up from your breast surgery with a newly constructed breast, or you can decide to wait months or even years.

After surgery you will be given a temporary prosthesis that you can wear during your recovery. When you are ready, you can be fitted by a professional for a prosthesis that will fit into pockets sewn into your bra (and swimsuits) to hold it in place. Breast prostheses come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and skin tones. The costs are generally covered by insurance. They are made of silicone to reproduce the natural curves, weight and feel of your breast, including nipple outline.

Get a feel for the different types of reconstructive surgery by asking questions and doing research. There are more surgical options than ever before. It may help to speak with women who have made different choices, including those who have opted to have no reconstruction.