Breast reconstruction and prostheses

After surgery to remove breast cancer, you may find it hard to cope with the loss of your breast and the change to your appearance. Breast reconstruction and breast prostheses are options that are intended to help you feel better about yourself and your body. But many women choose not to reconstruct or wear a prosthesis – they choose to “stay flat.” Only you can decide which option is best for you.

Breast reconstruction recreates all or part of a breast that has been removed by breast cancer surgery. It is done by a plastic surgeon who has special training in breast reconstruction surgery. A breast can be reconstructed with an implant, your own body tissue or a combination of an implant and body tissue.

A breast prosthesis is an artificial breast form. You wear it inside your bra to create the natural shape of a breast.

Choosing to stay flat is a decision that you can make to not have breast reconstruction or wear a prosthesis.

Expert review and references

Breast reconstruction

Breast reconstruction helps restore the look of the breast after surgery for breast cancer. Learn about deciding whether to have the surgery and how it’s done.

Types of breast reconstruction

Breast implants are made of rubberized silicone, filled with saline or silicone gel. Learn about implant surgery after breast cancer and its side effects.

Breast prostheses

Some women wear a temporary or permanent breast prosthesis after a mastectomy. Learn about types of breast prostheses and how to shop for a prosthesis.

Choosing to stay flat

You do not have to have breast reconstruction or use a breast prosthesis after a mastectomy. This is sometimes called “staying flat.” The decision is a personal one. Some women say that they choose to stay flat because they don’t need a prosthesis or reconstruction to make them feel like a woman.