Finding a surgeon

You may be able to find some information online about which surgeons perform breast reconstruction surgery in which hospitals. The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) has a list of surgeons and hospitals with plastic surgery units.

Your GP, breast surgeon, oncologist or breast nurse may be able to suggest a hospital or particular surgeon for you. You can also contact the Breast Cancer Care Helpline for more information on 0808 800 6000.

It is important to ensure you read/view accurate information specific to surgery in UK hospitals and do not get confused with information provided elsewhere in the world, as this may not be relevant to you.

If you choose private healthcare for your breast cancer treatment, many health insurance plans cover the full cost of breast reconstruction but this is dependent on your policy. Contact your health insurance company for further details to check what is covered on your individual policy.

Questions you may wish to ask your surgeon

Here are some questions that you may find useful when you speak to your surgeon.

  • What types of reconstructions are suitable for me?
  • Will the reconstructed breast match my remaining natural breast in terms of size?
  • Will I have any feeling in my reconstructed breast(s)?
  • What are the risks and complications of surgery?
  • Will there be much discomfort or pain?
  • How long is the recovery period?
  • Will a reconstruction cause lymphoedema (swelling of the arm)?
  • Can I meet other women who have had breast reconstruction to discuss their experiences?
  • Will a breast reconstruction interfere with radiotherapy or chemotherapy?
  • What changes to the breast reconstruction can I expect over time?
  • Will aging and weight gain/loss affect the reconstructed breast?

Your hospital stay

Here is a useful list of things you should take with you for your hospital stay.

  • Washbag – flannel/sponge, toothbrush & paste, face cream/wash, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo
  • Underwear (including any supportive garments you are asked to bring)
  • Loose fitting nightwear – front-fastening nightee or pyjamas
  • Loose fitting clothing to wear home
  • Dressing gown and slippers
  • Lip balm
  • Glasses (if you need them)
  • Throat lozenges / mints
  • Hair brush & hair ties
  • Wet wipes
  • A battery operated travel fan / folding hand-held fan
  • Magazines/ books / Kindle
  • iPod / iPad / Laptop and chargers (valuables at your own risk)
  • Ear plugs (the wards can be noisy)
  • Eye mask (the wards can be bright)
  • Small pillow – to place under your seatbelt on the way home from hospital in the car, and also to use in hospital to support under your arm. (You may be provided with one of these by your breast nurse- please ask)
  • A small canvas type bag-for-life to carry your surgical drains in. (You may be provided with one of these by your breast nurse- please ask)

Bras

Most units will want you to wear a bra after your breast reconstruction surgery. The type of bra recommended varies between units. Please discuss this with your breast nurse or surgeon. Generally, you will be asked to bring in a soft, non-wired, supportive bra with 2 separate cups (rather than a crop-top style bra) in your usual bra size (if having one breast reconstructed), or perhaps slightly smaller if you are having both breasts reconstructed. Most units will ask that the bra is worn for the majority of the day, for a number of weeks after surgery. Please discuss this with your own unit.

Clothing

It is a good idea to wear the same clothes to and from hospital. You will want to wear something loose and comfortable. Slip-on shoes are useful to prevent you having to bend down to tie/fasten.

Visiting QVH for your procedure?

If you are having your procedure at QVH, please download their handy guide for your visit, which also gives information on what you should pack.