Breast reconstruction after mastectomy is performed by several techniques. By far the largest percentage of breast reconstruction procedures are performed by the placement of a breast implant. The tissues are often first expanded after a mastectomy using a balloon like tissue expander than can be inflated gradually during subsequent office visits. The tissue expander is swapped for a breast implant during a later procedure. Sometimes “skin sparing” mastectomies can be performed, and a breast implant can be placed immediately after the mastectomy without the need for preliminary tissue expansion.
Implants have improved considerably over time, and there are now different varieties of shaped implants with more projection inferiorly and less projection superiorly. Shaped implants can give a more natural shape to the reconstructed breast which is dependent on the underlying implant for its shape and size.
Breast reconstruction can also be carried out with tissue transfer procedures from the back, abdomen, buttocks, and other less common areas. The surgery is much more extensive, but the results use the patient’s own tissues and can have a very natural feeling result.