Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction

Most patients who undergo breast reconstruction following mastectomy do so through the use of breast implants. This technique for breast reconstruction has been the preferred procedure used for decades and has remained a reliable option for many.

This method of breast reconstruction is usually performed in multiple surgeries (usually two or three) and can deliver reliable, long-lasting results for many patients.

First Surgery

This operation is usually performed at the time of mastectomy and coordinated with the breast oncologic surgeon. It involves placement of a tissue expander, a device similar to a water balloon that expands the available skin remaining after surgery to the desired size of the patient. The expander is placed either above or below the pectoralis major muscle and is gradually inflated over a period of a few weeks during visits to the surgeon’s office. During these visits, the surgeon places a needle through the skin and into the device. Most patients are numb in the breast skin so this is not typically uncomfortable. Once the desired size, (or limit of possible inflation) is reached, the expander remains in place for a minimum of one month at which point the patient is ready to have the exchange procedure. 

second SURGERY

The second surgery is an exchange procedure that replaces the expander (which is inflated with saline) with a final implant typically composed of silicone gel, which has a more natural shape and feel. The exchange procedure for silicone implants is almost always performed on an outpatient basis with minimal recovery as compared to the initial surgery. 

optional additional procedures

Some patients may notice areas of irregularity or imperfection in their reconstructed breast following the exchange to silicone. These imperfections can be improved and possibly eliminated using additional techniques, such as fat grafting.