How long should I wait to get breast reconstruction after receiving radiation?

I have been going through radiation therapy to make sure to kill all the microscopic cancer cells in my breast tissue. I eventually will need to have my breasts reconstructed but am worried about the problems that could arise if I do it too close to my XRT. What is the appropriate amount of time to wait to get breast implants after having radiation?


F, 53, New York

Tags:woman age 45-54 recovery mastectomy

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and received a mastectomy followed by radiation. I understand what you're experiencing because the number of choices seemed insurmountable. But the most important thing is to decide treatment with your team of radiation oncologists and then discuss the reconstructive care provided by an excellent reconstructive surgeon. Your plastic surgeon should be able to help you determine the type of reconstruction and the best timing. I chose to have immediate reconstruction versus delayed.

My plastic surgeon gave me options based on my desires and goals, as well as my health. Delayed breast reconstruction takes place immediately after radiation or chemotherapy, and I wasn't willing to wait for the six to nine months that I probably would have to wait until after the radiation was complete. From what I understand, the decisions determining delayed reconstruction or immediate are very complicated and individualized. If you are going to wait until after you have the radiation treatment, you should be able to start your reconstruction immediately after you have finished your radiation treatment. Your surgeon will be able to give you a greater understanding of the reconstruction options available. I'm thankful to have overcome cancer and am thrilled with my reconstructive surgery! I wish you all the best and the same outstanding results I was able to achieve.

Three years ago, I had a mastectomy, radiation therapy and breast reconstruction, so I know what you’re going through. I wanted breast reconstruction surgery shortly after my mastectomy, but my surgeon advised me to finish my radiation treatments before getting breast reconstruction. He said the radiation treatments could adversely alter the shape and size of my reconstructed breasts. So, I took his advice and had my reconstruction performed seven months after finishing radiation therapy. I’m glad that I waited several months to get breast reconstruction because my body needed enough time to recover from the mastectomy and radiation therapy. Based on what the members of my breast cancer support group have told me, women who have had chemo or radiation treatment typically have reconstruction surgery six to 12 months after completing their treatment. Ultimately, you and your breast surgeon will decide what time frame is best for you.

I was 35 when I underwent a mastectomy and radiation to treat my breast cancer. When I began my radiation treatments I asked my doctor when I could undergo breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction is something that I had discussed with a friend and decided that it was something that I wanted to do. My physician told me that it's better to wait until after I finished my radiation treatment to undergo the procedure. Breast Implants can ruin the effectiveness of the radiation. It can also effect change the appearance, texture, the color of the skin, and implant. I was told that I could have my reconstruction surgery at any time after the reconstruction. I decided to wait and started the plastic surgery reconstruction process six months after I completed my treatments.

I choose to receive delayed implant reconstruction too! I didn’t want to deal with any of the possible side effects that you can get if you are undergoing radiation after a reconstruction either. My doctor told me that I could have my reconstruction surgery done immediately after my radiation therapy; however, he said that that isn’t true for all women. My body was ready to have reconstruction done pretty soon but you may want to wait for a few months to recover your strength before you undergo immediate reconstruction. I did choose to use a tissue flap for my reconstruction though because I was concerned about the after-effects of using a tissue expander for my tissue and implants. Either way, talk with your doctor to see what they think would be best for your body.

When I was 43 I found out that I had breast cancer. To treat my cancer, I underwent a mastectomy and radiation therapy. While my primary concern was getting healthy, I was also concerned about how I would look after the mastectomy. I definitely wanted to consider reconstruction surgery after.

When I made my intentions clear, my plastic surgeon told me reconstruction was a possibility. However, I would have to wait until I completed my radiation treatments. The amount of time I would have to wait was determined by the condition of my breast skin after the treatments. I was told that trying to undergo radiation treatments could affect the appearance of my reconstructed breasts.

Typically, reconstructive surgeons will schedule a consultation for 2-3 months after radiation treatments are completed. I decided to wait six months after completing radiation to have my breasts reconstructed. However, I was told that I could schedule my reconstruction for any time in the future.