Breast Implant Surgery for Breast Reconstruction
Breast implants are a way to recreate the shape of a breast after part or all of the breast is removed (Reference mastectomy Opens New Window) because of cancer.
A breast implant is a soft silicone shell filled with saline (salt water) or silicone gel. Silicone may create a more natural-looking breast, because its weight and texture is more like breast tissue. But saline is used most often, because it can be safely absorbed by the body if the implant leaks.
Breast reconstruction usually takes more than one surgery. Sometimes an implant is placed during the same surgery as mastectomy. The nipple and the brown area around it (areola) are created at a later time. But often the doctor will first place a balloon (tissue expander) beneath the chest muscle. Saline is added to the balloon every 1 to 2 weeks to help stretch the skin and muscle. This may take several months. When the right size is reached, the balloon is taken out and an implant is put in.
Implant surgery is done by a Reference plastic surgeon Opens New Window. The breast surgeon who does your mastectomy can refer you to a plastic surgeon with special training in breast reconstruction.
You will meet with the plastic surgeon before your mastectomy to discuss the best procedure for you. The surgeon can show you pictures of other women who had implants after mastectomy. Ask to see both the best and worst results so you can get a better idea of what can happen. You can also ask to talk to women who have had the surgery.
Before having this surgery or any other surgery, you may want to see another surgeon to get a Reference second opinion Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: June 28, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology