Cancer Treatment Centers of America
(800) 615-3055

Have questions? Call (800) 615-3055 to speak to a cancer information specialist.

Oncoplastic and reconstructive surgery

What is oncoplastic breast surgery?

Many women with breast cancer are candidates for breast-conserving surgery, also called lumpectomy, partial mastectomy or quadrantectomy. In this type of operation, your surgeon selectively removes the tumor and leaves the remaining breast intact.

In some instances, there must be some reshaping of the breast to help prevent contour deformities that may develop in the future, particularly after radiation. This reshaping, done at the same time as removal of the tumor, is called oncoplastic surgery. Oncoplastic surgery not only removes the cancer, it also prevents undue scarring and deformation of the breast, helping to maintain an aesthetically pleasing breast after all of the treatment for cancer is complete.

What is breast reconstructive surgery?

Some women are not candidates for breast-conserving surgery and need to have a mastectomy. A mastectomy involves the surgical removal of all the breast tissue. Breast reconstructive surgery is the procedure of rebuilding a total breast after mastectomy. The nipple can also be reconstructed, if desired.

Usually two or three operations are required to complete breast reconstruction, and surgery is often performed on the other breast to improve shape and symmetry. Many women are able to begin the process of reconstruction at the time of mastectomy, also known as immediate reconstruction. For various reasons, reconstruction at the time of mastectomy may not be safe, and your surgeon will recommend delayed breast reconstruction.

There are several different techniques to reconstruct a breast, all of which fall into two basic categories:

  • Implant-based reconstruction - using a gel implant with or without a tissue expander
  • Autologous reconstruction - using a woman’s own tissue in the form of a flap or graft

A combination of both techniques is sometimes required.