While most breast cancer survivors are grateful for a second chance at life, the removal or disfigurement of one or both breasts can a devastating loss. Admittedly, a mastectomy or lumpectomy may be the only way to ensure the spread of aggressive cancer or treat the disease when radiation is an unsafe alternative (i.e. in the case of a first or second trimester pregnancy).

However, the emotions following a mastectomy can be just as devastating as the procedure itself. Naturally, many women report feelings of depression, embarrassment or anger about their appearance after such a procedure. Their clothes no longer look flattering, wearing a swimsuit becomes an embarrassing situation and looking in the mirror is a sad reminder of their “old, cancer-free self.”

Fortunately, new innovative technology in breast augmentation and reconstructive surgery exists to erase any stamp that cancer may have left on a woman's life. Not only can breast implants be used to restore the patient's original look, but the patient can also use the opportunity to enhance and tailor her existing features with procedures such as reductions or rejuvenating lifts.

One of the most common ways to accomplish breast augmentation following a mastectomy is to place FDA approved saline or silicone gel implants in the area where a mastectomy or lumpectomy has taken place.

The patient will then work closely with the surgeon during the shaping/expansion process to achieve her desired look. The procedure itself can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months, as your breast tissue will be stretched and expanded to ensure a more natural and desirable look. Generally in the case of reconstructive surgery, the plastic surgeon will approach the augmentation in two stages during the above-mentioned time frame.

In the first stage, a temporary saline implant is placed at the tie of the mastectomy to expand and stretch the skin to the patient's desired volume. During the second stage, the plastic surgeon will remove the temporary expander and replace it with a softer, yet final saline or silicone gel implant. The permanent implant is then adjusted to the patient's desired size and shape.

And while this procedure would normally cost thousands of dollars for a woman looking to enhance her existing figure, reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy is covered under most insurance policies (although co-pays may vary depending on the individual plan). However, for the majority of women, there is no out of pocket expense to undergo such a procedure.

Furthermore, it is never too early to consider reconstructive implants or set up a consultation with a plastic surgeon that specializes in breast augmentation following a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Whether you are currently undergoing radiation or still weighing your options, rest assured that cost-effective and low risk options exist to restore your beautiful figure after the devastating effects of cancer.

A woman deserves to feel gorgeous after conquering what may have been the battle of her life. She should feel comfortable in her own skin as she lives out the rest of her days healthy and cancer-free and breast augmentation is a way to achieve those goals while erasing the stamp of cancer once and for all.