Placing a breast implant is the most common way to reconstruct a breast after mastectomy or lumpectomy. An implant can restore the shape of your breast and help alleviate the emotional discomfort commonly experienced after breast cancer surgery.
Implant reconstruction is one of the two main breast reconstruction options available. To learn if implant reconstruction is the ideal strategy for your needs, call 303-706-1100 to schedule a private consultation with our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons. The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery serves patients from Lone Tree and Denver, Colorado as well as across the nation.
What is Implant Breast Reconstruction?
There are two types of breast implants that can be used for implant-based reconstruction:
This is a procedure that uses a saline or silicone device to reshape the breast after cancer surgery. Our surgeons will work with you to select the implant size, shape, projection, and style that will best meet your needs.
Saline implants have two basic components: an outer shell made of silicone polymer and an inner fluid made of a saltwater solution. This solution is similar to fluid naturally present in your body. One advantage of saline implants is that they have a flexible fill volume, so our surgeons can adjust them during the procedure.
Silicone breast implants contain a silicone gel contained in a silicone shell, and closely resemble the look and feel of breast tissue once placed. Women who prefer silicone breast implants favor the natural appearance they provide. These implants are not prone to rippling or wrinkling, as can sometimes be the case with saline implants.
Our surgeons most often recommend silicone gel implants because they provide patients with the most natural look and feel. With silicone implants, the recreated breasts move much more like normal breast tissue does.
What are the Benefits of Breast Reconstruction Using Implants?
Implant reconstruction has numerous advantages that make it an appealing choice, including that it:
- Is widely available and something many surgeons are trained to perform
- Is a relatively short procedure
- Is highly customizable
- Limits surgery to the chest, as opposed to other areas of the body
- Generally involves a shorter recovery than other reconstruction methods
- Allows you to change your mind and pursue autologous reconstruction later
- Is ideal if you do not have enough excess tissue for autologous reconstruction
As with all surgical procedures, implant reconstruction comes with a few considerations that you must weigh when deciding if it is the appropriate solution. One thing to be aware of is that breast implants are not lifetime devices. They will likely need to be replaced at some point down the road, typically after 10 to 15 years.
Am I a Candidate For Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction using implants is an appropriate option for many women. However, since implant reconstruction candidacy depends on so many individualized factors, you will need to meet with our surgeons to find out if it is right for you.
You may be a candidate for this procedure if you are interested in enhancing the fullness, contour, and femininity of your breast shape after undergoing one of the following surgical breast cancer treatments:
- Double mastectomy
- Prophylactic mastectomy
It is important to know that the nature of your cancer treatment may affect your candidacy for implants and the results that implants can offer. For example, radiation therapy performed before or after implant placement results in significantly higher reconstruction complication rates. For that reason, many surgeons view autologous reconstruction as the ideal method in the case of radiation.
Stages of Implant Reconstruction
Implant reconstruction can be performed at any time after your breast cancer surgery. Reconstruction timing is split into three categories: immediate (also known as single-stage or direct-to-implant), staged, and delayed.
Immediate reconstruction is done immediately after your mastectomy; you will wake up with a new breast mound and skip the tissue expansion process. Staged reconstruction begins at the time of mastectomy and is completed at a later date. Delayed reconstruction is done months or years after mastectomy surgery.
Many patients undergo staged reconstruction, which is completed in three phases:
- First stage: A tissue expander is placed beneath the skin to create space for an implant. Our surgeons will fill the expander will a sterile saline solution to gradually increase the size of the breast pocket over time.
- Second stage: Once enough space has been created, the tissue expanders are removed along with any scar tissue. Then, our surgeons will place the breast implant. The implants are usually allowed to settle for several months prior to the final phase of reconstruction.
- Third stage: Shaping techniques finalize the results so that the breasts look as natural, beautiful, and feminine as possible. Fat grafting may be recommended, which uses injections of your own fat cells to smooth out any surface irregularities or volume differences. Nipple reconstruction and areola pigmentation are also often performed in order to re-create the appearance of a nipple-areola complex.
Implant Reconstruction with Alloderm®
The surgeons at The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery have partnered with Lifecell™ to offer our patients Alloderm® Tissue Matrix as part of every breast reconstruction procedure. Alloderm® is a biologic mesh material that offers numerous advantages when used with a tissue expander and implant.
Alloderm® helps minimize complications and provide a more aesthetically pleasing result by:
- Forming an “internal bra” for the implant to sit in, keeping it in the preferred position
- Providing a scaffold or framework that helps your body heal itself
- Helping to cover and cushion the implant
- Behaving like your own tissue and integrating with the breast area
- Masking visibility of the implant through the skin
- Reducing other potential problems such as bottoming out and symmastia
What is Single-Stage Breast Reconstruction?
Some women are good candidates for direct-to-implant reconstruction (single-stage breast reconstruction). In this procedure, the tissue expander is not needed and the breast implants are placed immediately after the mastectomy. If you are a good candidate for single-stage reconstruction, there are a couple advantages: First, you will be able to enjoy immediate results without a waiting period. Secondly, you will spend less time in surgery because the number of procedures is reduced.
Planning Your Implant-Based Reconstruction
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time, or if you have been diagnosed as BRCA positive (placing you at a high-risk for developing breast cancer), then implant-based breast reconstruction may be a good option for you. As part of discussing your candidacy, our plastic surgeons will also discuss with you a plan for completing surgery.
Prior to reconstructing your breasts with breast implants, a skin-sparing mastectomy or a nipple-sparing mastectomy may be an option. These techniques conserve breast skin and the nipple-areola complex. Whether these types of mastectomy are an option in your case will depend on the details of your cancer and your general surgeon's input. Nipple reconstruction and areola pigmentation can be performed if a nipple-sparing mastectomy is not an option for you.
Schedule Your Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction Consultation in Lone Tree
If you would like to learn more about implant-based reconstruction, please contact The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery at 303-706-1100 today to schedule your initial consultation with our Colorado breast reconstruction team. We serve patients from Denver, Lone Tree, and across the United States.