Breast reconstruction surgery can be performed as an "immediate" or "delayed" procedure. As the term implies, immediate reconstruction is performed immediately after the mastectomy while the patient is still under anesthesia. Once the general surgeon has completed the mastectomy, the plastic surgeon begins creating the new breast. Advantages of this approach include preservation of most of the breast skin ("skin sparing mastectomy") and a shorter scar. The patient also wakes up "complete" and avoids the experience of a flat chest.
Delayed reconstruction generally takes place several months or years following mastectomy. It is important that patients discuss all treatment options with both their general surgeon and plastic surgeon to determine the best treatment plan.