Breast reconstruction procedures in Singapore were not very popular in the past due to a variety of reasons. However, as the number of women in the country diagnosed with breast cancer rises, many are beginning to opt for the surgery in order to improve their lives after mastectomies. 
According to accredited plastic surgeon, Dr Christopher Chui, breast reconstruction is an integral part of breast cancer management. The aim with this surgery is to restore the natural form of patients' breasts after mastectomies.
He wrote a very detailed guide on DxD covering what to expect from breast reconstruction surgery in Singapore. Here are some of the key takeaways.
Breast reconstruction procedures are primarily done to restore size and shape
Many women are keen to restore the original form of their breasts after being affected by breast cancer. Dr Christopher's goals are always to match the size and shape of the other breast in just one surgery. Discrepancies can be finalised with smaller procedures after the main operation.
Experts emphasise that a breast reconstruction procedure should be offered to all women who undergo mastectomy, whether it's in an immediate or delayed fashion. 
No, it isn’t a cosmetic surgery
This is a very common misconception. The intent of breast reconstruction is restorative in nature (giving back what cancer has taken away from women), so it doesn't really fall within the category of cosmetic surgery.
However, plastic surgeons like Dr Christopher aim to achieve the best aesthetics and symmetry in the process.
Good news, it's Medisave claimable
Breast reconstruction procedures are most commonly performed to treat patients with breast cancer. Thus, they are usually covered by insurance and yes, a portion of the fees is claimable through Medisave. 
There are 2 main types of breast reconstruction procedures in Singapore
They can be categorised into implant based or tissue-based procedures. 
- Implant-based – This type of reconstruction is done most commonly in 2 stages using a tissue expander for the first stage and replacing it with an breast implant in the second stage.
However, nowadays, more surgeons are placing an implant immediately after the mastectomy, saving the patient another operation.
- Tissue-based reconstruction – This procedure is Dr Christopher's preferred technique because the reconstructed breast is able to mimic the look, feel, and movement of a natural one.
Breast reconstruction doesn't just improve self-esteem
Studies have shown that breast reconstruction offers improved psychological and cosmetic outcomes. Most women who have undergone this procedure have expressed an improved quality of life.
The benefits of breast reconstruction potentially include improved body image, self-esteem, well-being, and possible survival advantage.
There are also practical advantages like being able to fit normally into clothing without worrying about prosthetics. Or, having a flatter stomach (if the fats from the stomach are used for reconstruction). 
Like many other types of surgery, there are risks
Truth to be told, there are also disadvantages. Breast reconstruction surgery can be an additional surgery on top of what is required for you to treat your cancer.
As with all other surgeries, you're exposed to the attendant risks and complications of surgery. You might also develop scars at the areas where the tissue was taken from.
"My friend told me that a reconstructed breast has no sensation. Is it true?"
Dr Christopher explains that some sensory loss is inevitable. However, he has a good number of patients who recover fairly good sensation. Most of them were able to feel pressure but may not feel a light touch on the reconstructed breast.
Can breast reconstruction hide cancer or make it come back?
No, it cannot hide cancer or make it come back. There’s no evidence that breast reconstruction delays detection of a recurrence or is responsible for it.
If breast cancer does recur, it most commonly recurs in the skin and subcutaneous tissue, so the reconstruction wouldn’t conceal it.
Will others be able to tell if you had breast reconstruction surgery?
If breast reconstruction surgery is done well, others will not be able to tell you’ve had the surgery. The only time they will be able to tell is if they see your scars.
Article medically reviewed by Dr Christopher Chui.