Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)

Choosing not to have breast reconstruction

Some women who’d had a mastectomy chose not to have breast reconstruction. Several said they didn’t want another operation which they felt was unnecessary. One woman who had a wide local excision was also offered reconstructive surgery but declined it because she, too, felt that it would be unnecessary surgery. Other people who chose not to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy said they were unhappy with having an implant or ‘foreign object’ in their body or using muscle from another part of the body to create a breast form. One woman said, because having reconstructive surgery would be a long operation in a hospital some distance away from her home and family, she decided against it. After seeing pictures of reconstructed breasts, another said she felt that reconstructive surgery might bring risks of further complications. Several others, though, said they would have liked to have seen other women’s reconstructed breasts before making a decision. Most surgeons have photos of reconstructions they have carried out for women to look at.

Two younger women with children said that caring for their children was their main concern. Because reconstructive surgery would involve a long operation and recovery, they would not have the time and energy they’d need to care for their children soon after coming out of hospital.
Several women said they were comfortable with how they looked; they didn’t want any more surgery and preferred instead to wear a prosthesis (see Prostheses).
A few women, however, said that although they didn’t want breast reconstruction, they were unhappy with how they looked. One said she had a large, ‘unsightly’ mastectomy scar. It is important for women who are unhappy with their scar to talk to their surgeon as it may be possible for the surgeon to neaten the scar. Another said she felt ‘like a freak’ with only one breast and would like to have reconstructive surgery in the future. A few women who had used a prosthesis after surgery later went on to have breast reconstruction, sometimes because they felt unbalanced or ‘lop-sided’ with only one breast. One woman said she’d ‘had enough of hospitals’ after her mastectomy but, six months later, decided to have a reconstruction.
More experiences of choosing not to have breast reconstruction can be found on our Breast Cancer section.

Last reviewed October 2013.

Last updated November 2011.

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