Breast reconstruction with breast implants

Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that restores shape to your breast after mastectomy — surgery that removes your breast to treat or prevent breast cancer.

One type of breast reconstruction uses breast implants — silicone devices filled with silicone gel or salt water (saline) — to reshape your breasts. Breast reconstruction with breast implants is a complex procedure performed by a plastic surgeon.

The breast reconstruction process can start at the time of your mastectomy, or it can be done later. The breast reconstruction process usually requires two or more operations — and several visits to your doctor — to insert, position and fill the breast implants.

Breast reconstruction won't re-create the exact look and feel of your natural breast. However, the contour of your new breast may restore a silhouette similar to what you had before mastectomy.


Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Breast reconstruction with a breast implant carries the possibility of complications, including:

  • Implant rupture or deflation
  • Increased risk of future breast surgery to replace or remove the breast implant
  • Changes in breast sensation
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Scar tissue that forms and compresses the implant and breast tissue into a hard, unnatural shape (capsular contracture)

Correcting any of these complications may require additional surgery. If you need adjuvant radiation therapy, you might not be an ideal candidate for breast implant reconstruction. Radiation therapy often leaves the skin and underlying tissue discolored or damaged. In such cases, doctors tend to recommend breast reconstruction with a tissue flap instead.

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