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Breast Reconstruction with Implants

Mastectomy removes breast tissue to treat breast cancer or to reduce a high risk for developing it. Breast reconstruction replaces that tissue with a breast implant, an autologous tissue flap (tissue transferred from elsewhere on your body) or a combination of a flap and an implant.

 

If your priority after mastectomy is to have your new breasts recreated with the shortest surgery and the quickest recovery, you might want to consider breast implants. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, almost 80 percent of all breast reconstruction is done with breast implants: about 70 percent involves tissue expansion, while the remainder is accomplished with direct-to-implant procedures.* Form-stable breast implants with cohesive silicone gel interiors are used more often than saline implants. These newer-generation implants tend to have fewer issues and last longer than their earlier counterparts.

 

Compared to autologous breast procedures, recreating breasts with implants has advantages and disadvantages.

 

Advantages of breast implants

  • Less invasive

  • Scars only the mastectomy site (doesn’t require a donor site)

  • Shorter surgery and quicker recovery

  • Direct-to-implant reconstruction forms full-sized breasts during the initial operation.

  • May be the only option if you’re too thin or not healthy enough for an autologous procedure.

  • Most plastic surgeons have the training and expertise needed for breast reconstruction with implants.

 

Disadvantages of breast implants

  • Doesn’t last a lifetime (will eventually need to be replaced, although newer silicone gel implants may last up to 20 years)

  • Capsular contracture, rippling or other inherent complications may develop and require additional surgery and replacement

  • Greater likelihood of failure and subsequent replacement

  • May require tissue expansion, which lengthens the overall reconstructive timeline

  • More likely to develop problems after radiation therapy to the chest/breast

  • Can’t be sculpted to closely match the opposite natural breast after a unilateral mastectomy

  • Less likely to regain sensation in the breast


 It's always a good idea to research and understand all of your postmastectomy options before making a decision that best matches your priorities.

 

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