A woman who has had one or both breasts removed through mastectomy surgery has often undergone a lot of physical and emotional trauma. She may feel extremely self-conscious knowing that she is missing one or both breasts.
For women with an upcoming mastectomy surgery, it will be very helpful to look into breast reconstruction surgery. This procedure can help restore the appearance of the breasts in a way that looks natural and beautiful.
Breast reconstruction will help restore one or both breasts to their normal size, shape, contours, symmetry, and overall appearance using one or more surgical procedures, including insertion of breast implants.
During this technique, breast implants – the same type of implants that women use to enhance the size of their breasts – are placed within the chest tissues to restore volume and projection. The breast implant is usually placed underneath the pectoral muscle of the chest.
There are two kinds of implants that surgeons will use to reconstruct your breasts:
- Saline implants – These contain sterile salt water and have been in use longer than silicone gel implants.
- Silicone gel implants – These feel more natural and closer to real breast tissue than saline implants and are often preferred.
Advantages over Other Reconstruction Methods
There are many advantages that implant-based breast reconstruction has over other breast reconstruction techniques:
- The surgery is shorter and less complex than flap reconstruction surgery.
- It can often be completed in a single surgery.
- It uses the same mastectomy incisions to insert the implants, so no new incisions must be made.
The Breast Implant Placement Procedure
For implant-based reconstruction, there are two options in terms of timing. The first is one-stage immediate breast reconstruction, also known as direct-to-implant reconstruction.
With this option, the surgeon inserts the breast implants right after he removes the breast tissue in the mastectomy. The reconstruction is done right after the mastectomy using the same incisions. A special type of skin graft is used to hold the implant in place.
The second option is two-stage reconstruction. Here, two separate surgeries are performed, one for the mastectomy and one for the reconstruction. After the mastectomy, the surgeon inserts something called an expander into the chest tissues.
An expander is a temporary prosthetic used to help prepare the patient for reconstruction surgery. Once the expander is placed, it is filled to a small degree with saline, similarly to a saline breast implant.
The patient comes back multiple times for additional saline solution to continue to expand the prosthetic. As it expands, the chest tissues are also expanded, creating more room in the area. When there is a good amount of room, the tissue expander is removed and replaced with a permanent breast implant.
Contact Our Office for a Consultation
The best way to find out if implant-based breast reconstruction is the right option for you is by contacting our office and setting up an informative consultation. Dr. Jeffrey Wagner is a well-respected board-certified plastic surgeon with reconstruction experience you can trust.