Breast Reconstruction

Whether you’re facing a mastectomy as cancer treatment or as a preventative measure due to family history, reconstruction provides an opportunity to regain a more normalized silhouette, which for many women, provides self-confidence. Losing a breast is a traumatic experience. Reconstruction helps give the patient a sense of control over the process.


You have options when considering breast reconstruction. You can choose either an immediate reconstruction or delay the procedure for weeks, months, and even years after your mastectomy. Your choice depends on a number of factors, including personal preference, your doctor’s advice, and your planned cancer treatment regimen. To learn about the different types of breast reconstruction, please click on one of the following:

How It Works

An immediate reconstruction is completed at the same time as the mastectomy. Your oncologist completes the mastectomy, and the plastic surgeon performs the reconstruction during the same operation. This approach has several benefits, including avoiding a second surgery later on and waking up to a reconstructed breast.

A delayed reconstruction takes place following the surgery. You may choose delayed reconstruction for any number of reasons, including feeling overwhelmed and desiring to focus upon beating cancer before concentrating on reconstruction, or the need to complete ongoing treatments first.

The reconstruction may be completed using the patient’s own body tissues to rebuild the breast in one of several procedures, or using an implant. Dr. O’Neill and Dr. Swartz will discuss the options and which one is right for you.


The main benefit of reconstruction is to restore the profile and improve the patient’s overall outlook and confidence. For some patients, there is a sense of “taking back” what cancer treatment took away. Each patient is different and will have different reasons for seeking, or deciding against, reconstruction surgery.


Recovery depends upon the type of reconstruction surgery you choose, the procedure itself, whether there are complications from the mastectomy or lumpectomy, and other factors like your lifestyle and activity level. Immediate reconstruction using an implant has an average recovery time of 6-8 weeks. If it is necessary that you have a tissue expander (to make room for the implant,) a second surgery will be needed to insert the implant. Recovery from the second surgery should take 2-3 weeks since it’s less involved. Reconstruction involving the use of the patient’s own tissue has about the same amount of recovery time as implant reconstruction.

As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications. Dr. O’Neill and Dr. Swartz will go over your medical history and discuss any potential challenges with you prior to the surgery.


Dr. O’Neill and Dr. Swartz and their staff are committed to working with you and the other members of your health care team to ensure that you receive all of the information you need to make the best decision regarding your breast reconstruction procedure. Charleston area breast cancer patients can benefit from Dr. O’Neill’s and Dr. Swartz’s guidance, surgical experience and commitment to patient education as you and your loved ones explore all of your surgical options. Call our plastic surgery office at 843-881-2130 or contact us online.

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