When to Choose a Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy

A woman evaluating her breast cancer reconstruction options with a plastic surgeon

A contralateral prophylactic mastectomy is a preventative surgery to remove the opposite healthy breast after one breast has been diagnosed with cancer or has had a previous lumpectomy with recurrence.

By removing the healthy breast tissue from the contralateral breast, women can prevent developing cancer in that breast, put an end to constant screening and evaluation appointments, and take back control of their lives. Discussing your prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction with a plastic surgeon can provide you with a wide variety of treatment options.

Who is a Good Candidate for a Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy?

If you are considering a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, you may wonder how to tell if you are a good candidate for the surgery. There are several reasons why this procedure may or may not be suitable for you.

You are a good candidate for contralateral prophylactic mastectomy if you:

  • Have previously had a unilateral mastectomy
  • Are at risk of developing cancer in your remaining breast
    • Have a family history of breast cancer
    • Have a genetic predisposition to developing breast cancer (e.g., BRCA1/2)
  • Have had a lumpectomy with recurrence followed by mastectomy
  • Are overwhelmed by continued screening and monitoring to detect cancer
  • Want uniformity with your breast reconstruction surgery

If you choose not to have a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, either at the time of your initial mastectomy or later, there are other options to maintain your health. Your oncologist and breast cancer team will recommend a timeline for screenings, mammograms, and ultrasounds to monitor your healthy breast and make sure to detect any abnormalities early — if cancer does develop.

Reconstruction Options After Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy

Thinking about possible reconstruction options after a prophylactic mastectomy isn’t vain; it’s a medically necessary part of your breast cancer treatment and can have a significant impact on your self-esteem, anxiety levels, and quality of life. Whether you would prefer a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction or an aesthetic flat closure, there are options available to you. Consulting with your plastic surgeon can help you decide which of these options will best suit your needs.

Breast Reconstruction Options

Autologous Tissue (Flap)


Aesthetic Options

  • DIEP – Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator 

  • SIEA – Superficial Inferior Epigastric Artery 

  • TRAM – Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous

  • Latissimus dorsi 

Plastic Surgeon-First Consult Before Mastectomy and Reconstruction

Meeting with a plastic surgeon before your mastectomy lets you plan your surgeries with the outcomes in mind. The plastic surgeon can coordinate with your breast surgeon, oncologist, and other members of your medical team to help you decide what type of mastectomy to get to both improve your health and the aesthetic outcomes of your reconstruction.

An expert plastic surgeon can provide many benefits during your contralateral prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction, including:

Treatment Continuity


Additional Surgical Options



Personalized Results

Psychological Benefits

Improved Aesthetic Outcomes

Harris Plastic Surgery: Your Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy Experts

Breast cancer is one of the most personal and daunting diagnoses a woman can face in her life. If you have been diagnosed with cancer in one breast or have had a previous unilateral mastectomy and are tired of the constant surveillance exams and worry about developing cancer in your remaining breast, the team at Harris Plastic Surgery is here to help. 

Harris Plastic Surgery Experts in Breast Reconstruction and Revision

We believe all women should be supported and empowered to make the best choices for their lives. Whether you choose a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy with immediate reconstruction or aesthetic flat closure, we can provide you with a phenomenal patient experience and the results you want. 

Contact us online or by phone/text if you have questions or are ready to schedule your consultation. 

Stephen U. Harris, MD FACS

Dr. Stephen U. Harris is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon and recognized expert in breast reduction and reconstruction surgeries, having performed thousands in his career. When it comes to patient care, his philosophy is that every surgery should improve his patient’s overall quality of life, not just their appearance. Dr. Harris stays up-to-date on all the latest advancements in breast augmentation, reconstruction, and reduction and is a recognized innovator in the field. In fact, he was the first surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital to offer primary prepectoral implant breast reconstruction, as well as secondary prepectoral revision surgery.

Dr. Harris also serves as Chief of Plastic Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York and is an active staff surgeon (and former Chief of Plastic Surgery) at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York.

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