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Alternative NamesBreast implants surgery
Definition Return to top
After a mastectomy, some women choose to have cosmetic surgery to re-create their breast. This surgery can be performed during mastectomy itself or later.
The breast is usually reshaped in 2 stages, first using a tissue expander and then placement of a saline implant. Sometimes the implant can be inserted in the first stage.
Description Return to top
If you are having reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy, your surgeon may do a skin sparing mastectomy. This means only the area around your nipple and areola is removed and more skin is left to make reconstruction easier.
If you will have breast reconstruction later, your surgeon will remove enough skin over your breast during the mastectomy to be able to close the skin flaps.
Breast reconstruction with implants is usually done in 2 stages. You will receive general anesthesia (asleep and pain free).
In the first stage:
In the second stage:
You may have another minor procedure later that remakes the nipple and areola area.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
You and your doctor will decide together about whether to have breast reconstruction, and when.
Having breast reconstruction does not make it harder to find a tumor if your breast cancer comes back.
Getting breast implants does not take as long as breast reconstruction (which uses your own muscle tissue). You will also have fewer scars. But the size, fullness, and shape of the new breasts are more natural with reconstruction that uses muscle tissue.
Many women choose not to have breast reconstruction or implants. They may use a prosthesis (an artificial breast) in their bra that gives them a natural shape, or they may choose to use nothing at all.
Risks Return to top
Risks for any surgery are:
The risks for breast reconstruction with implants are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
Always tell your doctor or nurse if you are taking any drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the week before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
After the Procedure Return to top
You may be able to go home the same day as the surgery, or you may need to stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Results of reconstruction surgery are usually very good. It is nearly impossible to make a rebuilt breast look exactly the same as the remaining natural breast. You may need more operations for the result you want.
Reconstruction will not restore normal sensation to the breast or the new nipple.
Having cosmetic surgery after breast cancer can improve your sense of well-being and your quality of life.
References Return to top
Burns JL, Blackwell SJ. Plastic surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 73.
Wilhelmi BJ, Phillips LG. Breast reconstruction. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 35.Update Date: 3/4/2009 Updated by: David A. Lickstein, MD, FACS, specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, Palm Beach Gardnes, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.