Implant reconstruction utilizes an implant comprised of salt water (saline), silicone gel, or both. Implant reconstruction requires less surgery time because it only requires insertion of the implant. This can be done during a mastectomy and only adds about 1 hour to the surgery. Recovery time is also lessened by implant reconstruction.
Autologous or Flap Reconstruction
Flap reconstruction utilizes tissue from another part of your body (autologous), from areas such as your belly, back or thigh. There is no risk of your body rejecting the reconstruction, as it uses your own tissue. It is sometimes required to also include a breast implant for your flap reconstruction, depending on a number of factors. Flap reconstruction is an intricate process and can be a 3-8 hour process. There is more recovery time after flap reconstruction, as there are multiple surgery sites. The final results are more natural than an implant reconstruction and leave less room for complications. If performed, a skilled, highly-experienced and board certified surgeon, a flap reconstruction requires minimal attention or follow-up treatment. Read more about Flap Reconstruction »
Combined Implant and Flap Reconstruction
There are certain situations where a combination of implant and flap in breast reconstruction is appropriate. If the patient would like to have a breast implant, but does not have enough tissue to cover it, a flap reconstruction may be used. There are certain patients who also would like a fuller breast that cannot be achieved with a flap alone, and so a breast implant is used. It is also a great option for women who are having reconstruction on both sides, and tissue is not enough to cover the bilateral reconstruction.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
Nipple and areola reconstruction helps give the breast a more natural look and feel. Nipple reconstruction is an easy procedure, and is usually done under sedation or light general anesthetic. It usually forms the shape using the local tissue from the surrounding area, or tissue from the opposite nipple. The areola can be reconstructed with a skin graft from the lower abdominal wall skin, groin crease, or the extra skin outside the mastectomy scar. Patients can also choose to have the nipple and areola tattooed, rather than using tissue. Tattoos use 3D color shading to give the visual illusion and depth of a nipple.