Following a mastectomy, many women choose to have breast reconstruction surgery to restore the look and feel of their breasts and regain self-confidence. There are many options available for reconstructive surgery, including implant based reconstruction, which uses saline or silicone gel breast implants. While there are benefits to each type of implant, each woman’s needs are different.
Contact us online today to learn more about which option may be best for your breast reconstruction. Our team of plastic surgeons helps women from Austin, Round Rock and throughout Texas.
Benefits of Implant Based Reconstruction
Some women choose to have their breasts reconstructed using implants, rather than their own tissue. For women who have had radiation in the past, the best and safest option for reconstruction will use their own tissue, rather than an implant. For women who require radiation after mastectomy but do not want to use their own tissue, our surgeons will carefully discuss the option for implant based reconstruction with you.
For women who do not require radiation, implant reconstruction is a popular and safe choice. It requires several smaller surgeries and a slightly shorter hospital stay. Our surgeons are skilled in breast reconstruction using both silicone gel and saline implants. Our surgeons also perform direct to implant reconstruction when possible.
Understanding the Procedure
Implant based reconstruction is a popular choice for breast reconstruction when a woman does not want to use her own tissue. Implant based reconstruction should be performed immediately at the time of mastectomy. After your breast surgeon performs the mastectomy, your plastic surgeon from the Institute of Reconstructive Surgery begins your reconstruction.
The pectoralis muscle is elevated to allow for placement of a tissue expander beneath it. The muscle covers the upper portion of the tissue expander, and the lower portion is often covered by a biologic product or mesh to support the implant and improve contour. The expander is inflated partially, but not completely, because after a mastectomy the breast skin is very delicate and pressure must be avoided. Drains are place and the breast skin in closed. Most women typically remain in the hospital one to two days following reconstruction with a tissue expander or implant.
The skin is allowed to heal for three to four weeks and your progress will be checked weekly at our offices. Drains are typically removed during the first one to two weeks. After three to four weeks, the expansion process begins. During weekly visits to our offices, we inject sterile salt water into the expander, allowing it to gently re-expand the breast skin. This process may take between two and four expansions depending on the ultimate size desired. Once the breasts are expanded to the desired volume, the second waiting period begins. The expanded breast is allowed to heal for two to three months. During this time, visits to the doctor are less frequent.
After this important period of healing, a second smaller surgery is performed in an outpatient setting, and the woman is able to go home the same day. During this surgery, the expander is removed and replaced with a permanent implant. A woman may choose either a silicone gel or saline implant for her final implant. Many women prefer the new form-stable silicone gel implants for reconstruction, because they look and feel most natural.
The final stage of reconstruction occurs several months later when nipple reconstruction or nipple tattooing is performed.
Recovery and Results
You will typically stay in the hospital for one to two days following mastectomy and tissue expander placement. As described above, the process of expansion is gradual and your breast reconstruction will take several months. When your tissue expander is replaced with a permanent implant, you will notice an immediate change in the softness and appearance of your breasts, as your final breast contour begins to appear.
Breast reconstruction using a tissue expander/implant from the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery of Central Texas can help to give women a sense of feeling whole again following breast cancer treatment, with beautiful, natural results.