The Breast Reconstruction Blog, maintained by Minas Chrysopoulo, MD, of San Antonio, is a well-written and always informative Web site. His latest entry on breast reconstruction is a typical example.
I think it is fair to say that most reconstructive breast surgeons, myself included, are not particularly fond of radiation because of the way it impacts the patient's tissues (and breast reconstruction in general.) Nonetheless, it is important to remember that "life comes before breast" and in certain situations there is a definite benefit for the patient in having radiation therapy.
So what's the problem with radiation therapy (from a plastic surgeon's perspective)? For starters it can cause toughening (fibrosis) and shrinking (contracture) of the patient's tissue which makes the tissue lose its elasticity and become more tough and rigid. Skin color changes are common, red at first turning more brown over time. Radiation can also cause burn injuries as well as damage to underlying organs such as the lungs and heart. Anyone who is facing radiation therapy must discuss all the potential risks with their their radiation oncologist beforehand.
Read it all. In addition, read a recent PSP article on reconstruction and the radiated breast, by Jane Petro, MD.