If your breast cancer treatment includes a mastectomy, take time to explore your options before deciding on breast reconstructive surgery. But don’t put off your research. Reconstruction sometimes is done during the mastectomy.

Reconstructive surgery can boost your self-confidence and improve your body image. But you’ll want to learn more before deciding which choice is right for you.

There are two main reconstructive options, says plastic surgeon Risal Djohan, MD. You can get artificial breast implants or opt to have the surgeon recreate your breasts with your own fat tissue.

Fortunately, thanks to government regulations and support for breast cancer services, most insurance providers pay for reconstructive surgery as part of cancer treatment, he says.

Implant options

In many cases, breast implants require a two-part procedure. The surgeon may first need to insert a temporary tissue expander to create space underneath the layer of skin and fat for the implant, Dr. Djohan says.

A few months later, your physician removes the expander and inserts an implant in the newly created pocket.

For some patients, however, doctors can immediately place the implant, Dr. Djohan says.

“Depending on evaluation of the patient meeting certain criteria, we certainly can skip a step of operation and get everything done at the same time,” Dr. Djohan says.