Pros and Cons of Reconstructive Surgery After Mastectomy

Reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy is a personal decision that can have both physical and emotional implications. It’s a choice that many women face after undergoing a mastectomy due to breast cancer or as a preventative measure for those at high risk. While some women choose to live without breasts or opt for external prostheses, others decide to have reconstructive surgery. This article aims to provide an unbiased look at the pros and cons of this decision, to help those facing this choice make an informed decision.

Pros of Reconstructive Surgery After Mastectomy

  • Restoration of Body Image: For many women, breasts are a significant part of their feminine identity. Reconstructive surgery can help restore the natural shape of the breasts, improving self-esteem and body image.

  • No Need for External Prostheses: With reconstructive surgery, there’s no need to worry about fitting and wearing external prostheses, which some women find uncomfortable or inconvenient.

  • Permanent Solution: Unlike prostheses, which need to be replaced periodically, reconstructive surgery offers a permanent solution.

  • Improved Clothing Fit: Reconstructive surgery can make it easier to find clothes that fit well and look good, which can boost confidence.

Cons of Reconstructive Surgery After Mastectomy

  • Additional Surgery: Reconstructive surgery means additional time in the operating room and recovery time. This can be physically and emotionally taxing, especially after the stress of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

  • Potential Complications: As with any surgery, there are risks of complications, including infection, bleeding, and problems with anesthesia. There’s also the risk of complications specific to breast reconstruction, such as implant rupture or capsular contracture (hardening of the tissue around the implant).

  • Loss of Sensation: Depending on the type of reconstruction, some women may experience loss of sensation in the reconstructed breast.

  • Cost: While insurance often covers reconstructive surgery, there may still be out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, if complications arise, further treatment may be needed, adding to the cost.


Deciding whether to have reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy is a deeply personal decision. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and discuss them with your healthcare provider. Ultimately, the decision should be based on what will help you feel whole and comfortable in your body.