Breast Reconstruction Approaches
Implant reconstruction utilizes an implant comprised of saltwater (saline), or silicone gel. Implant reconstruction typically involves a shorter hospital stay and operative times, as well as a quicker recovery and return to daily activity. Your surgeon will discuss the advantages of each type of implant, as well as the possible use of tissue expanders in your reconstruction.
Autologous / Flap Reconstruction
Flap reconstruction utilizes tissue from another part of your body (autologous), from areas such as your belly, back or thigh. Because your own tissue is used in the procedure, there is no risk of rejection by your body, regardless of the addition of implants. Flap reconstruction is an intricate process, which can lead to increased procedure times. In addition, there is more recovery time after flap reconstruction as there are multiple surgery sites. The final results can be more natural-appearing than implant reconstruction.
In contrast to breast implants that are silicone bodies that can create scarring along with other risks, flaps replace breast with fat so that they deliver lasting and consistent results
Combined Implant and Flap Reconstruction
There are certain situations where a combination of implant and flap in breast reconstruction is appropriate. If the patient would like to have a breast implant but does not have enough tissue to cover it, a flap reconstruction may be used. Certain patients also would like a fuller breast that cannot be achieved with a flap alone, and so a breast implant is used. It is also an excellent option for women who are having reconstruction on both sides but may not have enough tissue to cover the bilateral reconstruction.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
Nipple and areola reconstruction helps give the breast a more natural look and feel. Nipple reconstruction is an easy procedure, and is usually done under sedation or light general anesthetic. It usually forms the shape using the local tissue from the surrounding area, or tissue from the opposite nipple. The areola can be reconstructed with a skin graft from the lower abdominal wall skin, groin crease, or the extra skin outside the mastectomy scar. Patients can also choose to have the nipple and areola tattooed, rather than using tissue. Tattoos use 3D color shading to give the visual illusion and depth of a nipple.