The term breast reconstruction is the rebuilding of a breast after mastectomy. The goal of surgery is to restore a breast to its near normal appearance in size and shape. Reconstruction can be performed at the time of the mastectomy (while the patient is still under general anesthesia), or it can be done in a delayed or secondary fashion. Each patient is different and the decision to proceed with immediate or secondary breast reconstruction is a personal one. Since breast reconstruction often requires multiple surgeries and up to a year to complete, many defer and have it done secondarily when they are healthier and have more time and can better plan for surgery. It is important to note that excellent results may be obtained with both immediate and secondary breast reconstructions.
- breast implants
- the patient’s own tissues (‘autologous’ reconstruction)
- combination of both
- If only one breast is affected, it alone may be reconstructed. In addition, a breast lift, breast reduction or breast augmentation may be recommended for the opposite breast to improve symmetry of the size and position of both breasts. Many women today opt for both breasts to be removed, even if one does not have cancer (“prophylactic mastectomy”). This is the case with women who are gene positive and at increased risk for cancer.
- Immediate reconstruction has been shown to be a safe option when performed well. There are increased risks to immediate reconstruction, such as skin and nipple loss, infection, and bleeding. Make sure your plastic surgeon is up-to-date on the use of laser angiography (SPY) during mastectomy to make sure it is safe to proceed with immediate reconstruction. Modern techniques, like staging reconstructions, deliver beautiful results for delayed (secondary) reconstruction. CARE Plastic Surgery has leading experts in breast reconstruction techniques. Call today for a consultation.
- Not all patients are candidates for all types of reconstruction. The type of reconstruction you undergo will be decided by the patient and surgeon, depending on particular needs, anatomy, and previous treatments.
Is there an alternative to breast implants?
Yes, an alternative way to enlarge the breasts would be through liposuction and fat transfer. This is a great option for patients wanting a more natural breast appearance.
Can breast implants be reduced in size?
Over time, a patient’s desired aesthetic may evolve based on their preferences. Breast implants can be exchanged for a smaller size if a patient desires. A breast implant exchange procedure may also involve a simultaneous breast lift if necessary to provide the best aesthetic outcome for the patient. If a patient wishes to substantially decrease breast size, a breast lift may be necessary to tighten any skin laxity.
Can breast implants last a lifetime?
Today’s technology allows silicone breast implants to be considered the gold standard of implants for many reasons, including their longevity and durability. Many surgeons and patients have found that silicone implants can last decades. Depending on the time of breast augmentation, a patient may not need another surgery in their lifetime.
Can breast implants be removed and not replaced?
Implants can be removed without a corresponding implant exchange. Many patients wish to revert to a more natural appearance to their breasts and may opt for implant removal alone or simultaneous fat grafting. Our board-certified plastic surgeon will help you determine what procedures will best accomplish your goals.
Can capsular contracture get worse?
Capsular contracture is a complication associated with the scar tissue that forms around the implant. If left untreated, it can worsen over time. One of the initial signs of capsular contracture is typically a firmness of the breast, followed by a shape-related change. The shape can worsen over time and become distorted, and capsular contracture can progress to lead to pain, discomfort, or soreness.
Can breast implants change shape over time?
Breast implants can change in shape over time. A likely cause for a shape-related change would be capsular contracture. This occurs when the scar tissue surrounding the implant hardens and “contracts”. This is due to the introduction of bacterium to the implant sometime in the perioperative period.
Can capsular contracture go away by itself?
Typically, capsular contracture will not spontaneously resolve on its own. There are several methods in which to treat capsular contracture with either medical management or surgical intervention (i.e. implant removal and/or exchange). We recommend seeing a board-certified plastic surgeon propose the best treatment plan for you.
Can breast implants last 30 years?
With today’s silicon technology, it is not uncommon for implants to last 10, 20, and even 30 years. While the overall leak/rupture rate is relatively low (i.e. ~6% at 10 years after implantation), we encourage all patients with silicone implants to receive routine MRIs in order to rule out leaks and/or ruptures.
Can I have my breast implants removed?
Yes, you can have your breast implants removed. Your surgeon may recommend additional procedures to provide the aesthetic result you are seeking. Commonly performed procedures include a breast lift (mastopexy) or implant exchange. We recommend consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon when deciding whether or not additional procedures are required to accomplish your desired goals.
Can you feel a ruptured breast implant?
The only way to detect a leak/rupture in a silicone implant is through proper imaging with an MRI. We recommend receiving routine imaging every few years to evaluate the integrity of your implants. Prolonged neglect (i.e. several years) to a leaking silicone implant could potentially lead to capsular contracture or more challenging revision surgery.
How long do breast lifts last?
Breast lifts performed with proper surgical technique can be long-lasting. However, you can expect your breasts to continue to change over time due to natural causes, including general aging, weight fluctuations, and pregnancy/breastfeeding.