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The surgical fact file

> Breast reconstruction surgery is an operation which endeavours to recreate the shape of the original breast after a mastectomy (removal of breast) or a lumpectomy (removal of part of the breast).

> The aim is to match the remaining breast. This can be done by creating a breast form with an implant, which is inserted under the skin and using skin from your back, or by using skin and fat from the stomach, buttock or thigh area.

> Up to half of all women who have a mastectomy choose to have breast reconstruction at the time of their initial surgery or afterwards (delayed reconstruction). Reconstruction is also delayed if a patient has to undergo radiotherapy.

> Operations vary between two to six hours with a three to seven-day stay in hospital. Recovery time is four to eight weeks.

> A new nipple can be created and attached under local anaesthetic two to three months after the reconstructed breast has settled into its final shape. This time delay enables the surgeon to position the nipple accurately. Six weeks later the nipple and areola are tattooed to match colour.

> Breast reconstruction can bring up many feelings and emotions. Your breast cancer nurse is always available to talk with you.

> The Irish Cancer Society can put you in touch with women who have undergone breast reconstruction.

For more information call 1800 200 700 or email helpline@irishcancer.ie