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Breast Reconstruction

“To have the reconstruction carried out at the same time as the partial mastectomy was an unexpected option, but I was confident it was right for me. I was quickly referred to a plastic surgeon, who explained the surgery and assessed me as suitable for the reconstruction. He also showed me images of some of the results of his breast reconstructions”. 

(The Beacon, Breast Cancer Network Australia’s Magazine)

Please note: It is very important to discuss your individual situation with your surgeon, as not all reconstruction options are available to everyone.


Last Updated: 20 January, 2022 9:37 am

Below is a list of suggested questions you may want to take into account when considering whether or not to have a reconstruction. We have not provided answers, as everyone's situation is different. Your treating team is best placed to answer these questions for you.

You might want the answers to some of the questions straight away, while some may become important later on. Some questions might not matter to you at all. You can either ask these questions directly, or use them as a guide to put together your own questions. Many of these questions can be directed toward your breast surgeon, but you may like to ask your Breast Care Nurse, GP or other member of your health care team.

  • Are you a specialist breast surgeon?
  • Are you registered with the Australasian College of Surgeons?
  • Do you work together with a specialist plastic surgeon?
  • Is breast reconstruction an option for me?
  • What types of reconstruction options do you recommend for me?
  • When is the best time for me to have a breast reconstruction — at the time of the mastectomy or later? Does it matter?
  • Will breast reconstruction affect any other cancer treatment I need?
  • If I need to have radiotherapy after my mastectomy, how will that affect my reconstruction choices?
  • How will my reconstructed breast compare with my other breast?
  • What is skin sparing or nipple sparing surgery?
  • What is nipple tattooing and do you offer this?
  • Will I need surgery on the other breast?
  • What are the possible side effects or problems with the different options?
  • What will the scar(s) be like?
  • How long will I have to wait to have the procedure?
  • Am I covered by Medicare or my private health care fund?
  • Will there be any out of pocket expenses?
  • Can I talk to other women who have had a similar diagnosis to me or similar reconstruction options to me?
  • May I see photos of reconstructive surgery that you have done, including photos of both your best and your more typical results?
  • Will I be able to detect a possible return of cancer after reconstructive surgery?
  • After reconstruction, will I still need a yearly mammogram?

These listings provide links to the websites of organisations relevant to mastectomy and breast reconstruction. The link will direct you to the organisation’s home page where you can search their site independently.

Royal Australasian College of Surgeons - Find a Surgeon (AUS)

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is a non-profit organisation training surgeons and maintaining surgical standards in Australia and New Zealand. The website includes a “Find a Surgeon” guide.

Breast Surgeons of Australia and New Zealand Inc. (AUS)

Breast Surgeons of Australia and New Zealand Incorporated (BreastSurgANZ) is the primary group of surgeons treating patients with breast disease, benign and malignant, in Australia and New Zealand. The website includes a “Find a Surgeon” guide.

Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (AUS)

The peak body for Specialist Plastic Surgeons, both reconstructive and cosmetic. The website includes a “Find a Surgeon”guide.

Australian Breast Device Registry

The purpose of the Registry is "to identify and report on possible trends and complications associated with breast device surgery; to track the long-term safety and performance of implantable breast devices; and to identify best surgical practice and optimal patient health outcomes". See the section for patients.

This list includes links to key pieces of evidence-based information directly related to breast reconstruction, and includes downloadable fact sheets, pamphlets, PDF documents and web pages.

Cancer Council Victoria - 'Breast Prostheses and Reconstruction' booklet 2020 (AUS)

A good, Australian-focused, overview of breast reconstruction. In PDF format that can be printed or ordered in hard copy.

Breast Cancer Network Australia - Breast Reconstruction (AUS)

A comprehensive web page on breast reconstruction on the website of Breast Cancer Network of Australia (BCNA). It includes links to a fact sheet listing helpful resources related to breast reconstruction; a sheet containing tips from women who have had reconstructive breast surgery; issues of the Beacon Magazine articles about breast reconstruction and much more.

National Cancer Institute (NIH) - Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy 2017 (US)

Another good starting point for the basic facts about breast reconstruction.

Counterpart webinar - Breast Reconstruction 2016 (AUS)

In this webinar recording, Dr Kim Taylor, a plastic surgeon with particular expertise in the area of breast reconstruction discusses what factors women need to consider in deciding what is right for them, the types of reconstructive surgery available, current issues and new developments in the field.

Counterpart webinar - Breast Reconstruction 2015 (AUS)

In this webinar recording, Dr Natalie Ngan, a plastic surgeon with particular expertise in the area of breast reconstruction discusses what factors women need to consider in deciding what is right for them, the types of reconstructive surgery available, current issues and new developments in the field.

Breast Cancer Now - 'Breast Reconstruction' 2018 (UK)

This UK website discusses why reconstruction may not be appropriate for everyone and provides information to help women consider the choices they have available to them if they choose to reconstruct. It has a good section on setting realistic expectations.

Breastcancer.Org - Breast Reconstruction 2020 (US)

US-based website, with lots of information. Particularly useful for women who have to decide between particular options. Note that it is very important to discuss this with your surgeon, as not all options are available to everyone.

Cancer Australia - Breast Reconstruction 2020 (AUS)

A page on the website of Cancer Australia with information on breast reconstruction including types of reconstruction available.

Westmead Breast Cancer Institute - 'Breast Reconstruction' (AUS, 2020)

A web page on breast reconstruction. Includes information on 'direct-to-implant reconstruction'. If you prefer print, look for the link to download this information as a pamphlet in PDF format.

Reclaim Your Curves (AUS)

An organisation run by volunteers. Assists women seeking breast reconstruction. Information is sourced from women who have undergone breast reconstruction and from the health professionals who have cared for them.

Counterpart webinar - Nipple tattooing 2021 (AUS)

Monique Baldacchino, Breast Care Nurse at The Royal Women’s Hospital is trained in nipple tattooing (micro-pigmentation) for women who have undergone breast reconstruction surgery. Here, she speaks about the process of tattooing the areola and nipple, the pigments used, when, how and where women can access the service.

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) - My Journey online tool (AUS)

Formerly the My Journey Kit, this tool is now online. Sign up to access information that can be tailored to your own situation. Find information on a range of topics including treatment options.

This is a list of hard copy resources such as books and CDs that are not readily available online. They may be available for loan through Counterpart’s Resource Centre or may be sourced independently online or through book stores. You can access the Counterpart library online or call the Resource Centre directly on 1300 781 500.

The Complete Guide to Breast Cancer: How to Feel Empowered and Take Control 2018 (UK)

Professor Trish Greenhalgh and Dr Liz O'Riordan both have medical backgrounds, and were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. This book describes the experiences from diagnosis to life after treatment, with their unique personal experiences.

Vermillion, 2018

Breast Cancer Taking Control (AUS)

An Australian book by Professor John Boyages that outlines the different options for reconstruction. It has useful "control points" which are like flow charts clearly following through some of the questions you might need to consider to make a decision. Available at the Counterpart Resource Centre. Not for loan.

Boyages J., Boycare Publishing, 2010

The Breast Reconstruction Guidebook (4th ed.) (US)

This well regarded book is written by health journalist Kathy Steligo, with personal experience of breast cancer and reconstruction surgery. The book covers the different surgery options, side effects and benefits. This is the 4th edition, published in 2017.

Steligo, K., John Hopkins University Press, 2017

Beauty After Breast Cancer (US)

This joyful and positive book was created by women who have experienced breast cancer, and provides the information they wish they had had access to when they were diagnosed. It is a large format book featuring full-colour images. It offers so much more than pictures, as it is possible to search for women who have had specific types of surgery and reconstruction. The 38 people featured in the book (37 women and 1 man) have had a range of experiences, reactions, procedures and outcomes. Available at the Counterpart Resource Centre. Not for loan.

Carey, K & Linaschke, J., No Scars No Stories, 2015

This list directs you to websites containing personal stories in both written and in video format, and includes blogs and online forums. The information contained in these links reflects the personal experiences of individuals and does not necessarily constitute evidence-based research or information.

Rural Cancer Stories: Heather, Lower South-East

This short video in the Rural Cancer Stories series features Heather. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41 years old, and explains her experience of diagnosis, mastectomy, reconstruction, using a partial prosthesis and managing lymphoedema.

Australian Story episode and website - 'A Life Laid Bare' (AUS)

An online account of an Australian woman’s experience with breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy and reconstruction. It includes an episode of Australian Story on the ABC in which she recounts her experience.

Counterpart (AUS)

Counterpart is a unique free information and support service for Victorian women living with breast or gynaecological cancers. Women can connect and speak with trained peer support volunteers who have experienced cancer themselves.

Breast Cancer Australia Network - Online Network (AUS)

An online network of Australia’s peak national consumer organisation for those affected by breast cancer. It includes discussions by individuals and groups of people in similar situations, such as deciding on breast reconstruction. This link will take you to the page where you can join the online network. Search for 'reconstruction'.

Aussie Breast Cancer Forum - Reconstruction forum (AUS)

Australian website that provides a breast cancer forum for people with, or affect by, breast cancer to share on a range of different topics. It has a discussion thread on reconstruction. Click 'Enter the forum' and search for 'reconstruction'.

Know a personal story we could share? Give feedback below.