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Breast Reconstruction with Implants

Your surgeon can help you decide whether to have reconstructive surgery. You will be advised to wait if now is not the best time for you.

Breast reconstruction can be done during or after a mastectomy. One kind of reconstruction is the breast implant. A sac of fluid is inserted during surgery to re-form the shape of a breast.

Cutaway view of breast implant

Placing the Implant

Most breast implants are shells filled with fluid. To insert the implant, a small incision is made, often through the mastectomy scar. The implant is placed under your chest muscle. Recovery may take 3–6 weeks. You may have surgery later to create a nipple and an areola. Surgery may also be needed to match your remaining breast to the reconstructed one. Expect the reconstructed breast to be firmer than your normal breast.

Cutaway view of breast implant

If You Need a Tissue Expander

If you do not have enough muscle and skin to cover an implant, you may need a tissue expander. This is an empty implant shell that inflates as fluid is injected. An expander is placed under the skin and muscle. Fluid is injected through a metal port. This happens about once a week. When the muscle and skin are stretched enough, the expander is replaced with an implant.

Risks of Breast Implants

  • Infection

  • Need for replacement

  • Hardened breasts

Online Medical Reviewer: Song, David H, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Wetter, L Albert, MD
Last Review Date: 12/28/2011
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