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If you’ve had or are facing surgery to remove one or both of your breasts, you might be wondering, “What happens next?”

Some people choose to live without breasts and some choose to recreate the look of natural breasts through breast reconstruction. The decision to have this surgery is a highly personal one. And if you decide to do it, understanding the options and what to expect can be overwhelming and confusing.

At Cleveland Clinic, our compassionate, skilled surgeons and breast cancer team will talk you through the entire process so you feel comfortable and confident about your decision —whatever it is. We’ll keep you informed every step of the way, listening to your concerns, answering your questions and giving you peace of mind before, during and after your surgery.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Breast Reconstruction Surgery?

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Trusted experts:

Our skilled surgeons are national leaders in breast reconstruction surgery. We do hundreds of these surgeries each year. We also train future breast surgeons, develop new surgery techniques and do complicated surgeries. Our years of experience give you the best chance for excellent results. Meet our team.

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Specialized knowledge:

Our breast surgeons are among the few in the country to routinely bring sensation (feeling) back to your breast after a mastectomy. We also specialize in preventing lymphedema (swelling in your arms and legs after a mastectomy).

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Collaborative care:

Your breast reconstruction team of specialists includes breast surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and plastic surgeons. They’ll meet regularly to talk about your case, so we can personalize your surgery and give you coordinated care.

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Caring approach:

We know that breast reconstruction is a big decision, and we want you to feel comfortable and happy with the results. Our compassionate team takes the time to help you think through the options, prepare you for surgery and answer any questions you have. From your first appointment to ongoing care after surgery, you’ll know what to expect.

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Virtual visits:

We make it easy for you to get the care you need. Many of our healthcare providers offer virtual visits and follow-ups. You’ll receive the same personalized, one-on-one care from your provider from the comfort and convenience of home using your smartphone, tablet or computer.

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National recognition:

The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) has recognized us for providing high-quality care coordinated by a team of breast cancer specialists. Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.


Preparing for Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Deciding to have breast reconstruction surgery after a lumpectomy or mastectomy is very personal. There are many things to think about. Understanding what your options are, what’s involved in the surgery, when to have it and what recovery looks like is really important. That’s why the very first step in this process is meeting with our specialists to talk. They’ll explain everything to you and answer any questions you have. You should leave these appointments with a clear idea of what to expect if you decide to have surgery.

And don’t worry, we know you’re busy, so we’ll also try to coordinate these pre-surgery appointments in one day — or over several days — depending on your schedule.

At your appointments, your providers will:

  • Do a physical exam.
  • Ask about your medical history.
  • Review imaging.
  • Talk about your cancer diagnosis and stage (how advanced it is).
  • Listen to your goals and concerns and answer questions.
  • Go over breast reconstruction options.
  • Talk about benefits, risks and timelines.

Meet Your Breast Reconstruction Surgery Team

We work as a team at Cleveland Clinic to make sure you get the all the care you need — before, during and after surgery. Besides our expert breast surgeons and plastic surgeons, your care team will include:

  • Medical oncologists (healthcare providers who specialize in targeted cancer treatments like chemotherapy).
  • Radiation oncologists (healthcare providers who deliver radiation therapy for cancer).
  • Genetic counselors.
  • Social workers.
  • Psychologists.
  • Nurse navigators (registered healthcare providers who help keep patients informed and advocate on their behalf throughout treatment).


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Options at Cleveland Clinic

After meeting with your breast reconstruction team, you may decide you’d like to move forward with breast reconstruction after your mastectomy or lumpectomy. If so, the next step is deciding what type of reconstruction surgery is best for you. There are a few different options. Your team will work with you to put together a surgery plan that meets your needs and goals.

Here are a few options to think about:

DIEP flap surgery

During DIEP flap reconstruction (also called autologous reconstruction), we use tissue from other areas of your body, like your belly, back, buttocks or inner thigh, to create a breast shape. DIEP stands for deep inferior epigastric perforator — the main blood vessel that’s relocated during the surgery.

Implant surgery

Your surgeon may reconstruct your breast using an implant. The implant is filled with silicone or saline (saltwater) and placed over or under your chest muscle. You can have this surgery right after a mastectomy, or you can wait to get the implant. If you wait, your surgeon will put a temporary tissue expander in your chest during the mastectomy. Then, a few months later, we’ll take the expander out and put the implant there to create a breast shape.

Oncoplastic surgery

If you’ve had a lumpectomy, your surgeon may do oncoplastic surgery to reconstruct your breast. In this procedure, your surgeon removes the cancer from your breast and then reconstructs both breasts so they’re symmetrical (look the same).

What To Expect After Breast Reconstruction Surgery

After surgery, you’ll either go home the same day or stay in the hospital for up to a week, depending on the type of reconstruction you have. You may wear a surgical bra to support your breasts, help them heal and reduce swelling. When it’s time to go home, your care team will give you detailed instructions on how to care for your breasts. Your provider may also give you prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication to help manage any pain you might have.

Follow-up Care at Cleveland Clinic

Recovery is different for everyone. In the weeks following your surgery, you’ll have several follow-up appointments so our surgeons can check how you’re healing. Your medical oncologist will also reach out and talk to you about the next steps in your treatment plan.

Taking the Next Step

Deciding whether to have breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy or lumpectomy is a big decision — and a personal one. If you decide to do it, you can rely on our expert care team to guide you through the process with compassion and confidence. Breast reconstruction is just another step in your cancer journey. And we’ll continue to be with you all along the way.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic breast reconstruction experts is easy. We're here to help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic breast reconstruction experts is easy. We're here to help you get the care you need.

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