For most patients, achieving the best possible outcome in breast reconstruction will usually require more than one surgery. As such, I tell patients that come to see me in consultation that the nature of breast reconstruction is typically staged.
The number of stages required to complete your breast reconstruction is variable depending on a number of factors. These include the type and quality of the mastectomy. For nipple-sparing mastectomies, a “one-step” approach to breast reconstruction may be possible, however secondary minor procedures may be desired. Additional factors that contribute to the number of stages required include the type of breast reconstruction approach chosen, and individual patient expectations. It is not unusual for patients to decide to have two or three secondary revision procedures after their initial breast reconstruction has healed.
At the time of the secondary stages of breast reconstruction, the final breast contour may be finalized, enhancing the quality of the aesthetic appearance created during the initial reconstructive procedure. If needed, nipple reconstruction may be accomplished at the time of any secondary revision surgery. Most staged revision procedures are done as outpatient surgery with an easier recovery than the original mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
It is important that an individualized approach is used for every patient. In order to best understand your options, you should see a plastic surgeon experienced in the full range of immediate and secondary breast reconstruction approaches.