The decision to go ahead and have the surgery is a no-brainer for some women: It may be importanteven essentialto your self-esteem to have two breasts and that they look as close as possible to what you were used to (or better).
Reconstruction is not for everyone
But some women opt out. In fact, only about 17% of women who've had a mastectomy end up having reconstruction.
If you're just not ready for the extra surgery that reconstruction entails, it's fine to decide later, says R. Bruce Shack, MD, professor and chairman of the department of plastic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. "For some women, they have enough to deal with with the cancer. Some women are sent to me right after they've gotten a diagnosis. All they can think is, 'I've got cancer.' I tell them, 'Don't think you have to make up your mind about breast reconstruction today; you're never going to come in and I'm going to say it's too late.' The same options are available for delayed reconstruction as for immediate reconstruction." And those women who delay or avoid reconstruction can choose a breast prosthesis.