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How are implants used in breast reconstruction after breast cancer?

Heather L. Karu, MD
Plastic Surgery
There are a variety of ways breast implants are used to reconstruct the breast after cancer. In this video, Dr. Heather Karu explains the process of breast reconstruction using implants.
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
Implants may be used concurrently with the original mastectomy surgery or delayed to later date. Often, after the mastectomy, a tissue expander will be placed by the plastic surgeon. This can be expanded for several months on a weekly basis. The expander will be removed and replaced with a silicone gel prosthesis after ample enlargement of the submuscular pocket. To create symmetry, a smaller silicone implant may be placed on the unaffected breast.
Breast reconstruction is a procedure that is available to women who choose to have a mastectomy, removal of all the breast tissue, as a treatment option for breast cancer. There are three major types of breast reconstructive surgery available including: implant reconstruction, autologous tissue reconstruction and a combination of the two methods; implant plus autologous reconstruction.

Implant reconstruction is usually a two-step process that usually occurs during the mastectomy procedure. It does not use any tissue from the woman’s body. A small balloon-like device is used to gradually expand the tissue and muscles of the breast at the mastectomy site to accommodate the appropriate-sized implant (silicone gel or saline). Once the breast tissue has been expanded, the patient has a second surgery to remove the expander and place the implants

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.