Breast reconstruction, prostheses and remaining flat

Last medical review:

Choosing what to do after surgery for breast cancer is very personal. It is based on what will make you feel most comfortable and confident, and what your surgeon says is possible. If you have had a mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery to treat breast cancer, there are surgical and non-surgical options that may appeal to you. Depending on the type of surgery you had and your personal preferences, you can choose from the following options.

Breast reconstruction recreates a breast after all or part of it is removed. A breast can be reconstructed with a breast implant or your own body tissue. This surgery is done by a plastic surgeon.

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

"Remaining flat" means not having breast reconstruction or wearing a prosthesis after surgery for breast cancer. Choosing not to have breast reconstruction surgery or using a breast prosthesis can also be called "staying flat," "going flat" or "living flat."

Keep in mind that having breast reconstruction or wearing a breast prosthesis is not medically necessary. But if you are struggling with the loss of your breast and changes to your appearance, these options may help you feel more like yourself.

Talk to your healthcare team, family, friends and people who have gone through the same experience about the options available to you after surgery for breast cancer. Based on this information, you can decide what is best for you.

Expert review and references

  • Kathryn Isaac, MD, FRCSC, MPH
  • Melinda Musgrave , MD, FRCPC, PhD

Breast reconstruction

Breast reconstruction can help recreate the look of a breast after surgery for breast cancer.

Types of breast reconstruction

If you are having surgery to treat breast cancer, you may consider getting breast implants or autologous breast reconstruction. You may also want to have nipple and areola reconstruction.

Breast prostheses

Instead of having breast reconstruction or remaining flat, you may choose to wear a breast prosthesis after surgery to remove breast cancer.

Choosing to remain flat

Instead of having breast reconstruction or using a breast prosthesis, you may choose to "remain flat" after surgery for breast cancer.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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