Breast reconstruction can either be performed immediately, during the same surgery as the mastectomy or in a delayed fashion, months or years after the mastectomy.

The biggest advantage of having it done immediately is psychological. It has been shown in multiple studies that waking up with a breast shape after mastectomy surgery is beneficial, never having to live without a breast. Additionally, if you know that you want a breast reconstruction, having an immediate reconstruction can save you from an additional surgery and recovery time, shortening the treatment and healing process significantly.

Delayed breast reconstruction is preferred in two distinct scenarios. One in which the woman is not psychologically prepared, and the other in which more aggressive cancer treatments are needed prior to reconstruction. For instance, if post-mastectomy radiation treatment is planned, it is often prudent to delay the reconstruction. Whatever the reason, if a woman is not ready to undergo breast reconstruction at the time of her mastectomy, a delayed reconstruction can be performed. This can be done several months or years after the cancer is removed and involves using a two-stage approach.