What Happens To Implants After Radiation?

Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons Serving Denver, Lone Tree, Colorado & Nationwide

Posted: July 15, 2022
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Radiation therapy is an effective treatment that uses high-energy particles to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. Typically recommended for all stages of breast cancer, this therapy is often administered before breast reconstruction. In some cases, radiation may be necessary after reconstruction, which is associated with a higher risk of complications and cosmetic issues.

Radiation therapy can cause changes to your breasts after autologous or implant reconstruction. However, implants are particularly susceptible to the effects of treatment. While it is still possible to enjoy a good outcome from implant reconstruction followed by radiation, the therapy can contribute to many problems, including asymmetry, capsular contracture, infection, implant extrusion, and implant failure. These issues may call for breast reconstruction revision.

Placing Tissue Expanders After Mastectomy Surgery

The good news is that you can minimize your risk of complications associated with radiation. Careful planning may help you avoid issues caused by radiotherapy after breast reconstruction.

In most situations, our surgeons prefer to place a tissue expander after mastectomy if a patient will need to undergo radiation. This method maintains space in the breast during radiotherapy. When the breast cancer treatment is complete, the expander can be removed and replaced by an implant. Alternatively, the expander is removed during the initial stage of DIEP flap surgery.

This timing is known as staged or immediate-delayed reconstruction. The most significant benefit of this approach is it can increase the success rate of reconstruction in the radiation setting. However, it is only available if you can plan it in advance and anticipate your need for radiation. If you have already finished your reconstruction and are dissatisfied with the changes caused by radiotherapy, you can explore corrective options. Modern breast implant revision techniques such as implant removal, breast shaping, DIEP flap revision, and more are available.

Contact Our Lone Tree Breast Reconstruction Surgeons 

Our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons can help you navigate the challenges of radiation no matter where you are on your journey. Call 303-706-11100 to schedule a consultation. The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery serves Denver, Lone Tree, and nearby areas of Colorado.