Breast reconstruction with saline implants is the right option for some women, especially those who do not have enough excess tissue for a flap-based reconstruction (such as the DIEP flap). One standout advantage is that the breast implants can be placed using the same incisions that were used for your mastectomy, so no new scarring is created. Sometimes this option can be a more timely option, with fewer accompanying surgeries than other methods of breast reconstruction.
Ideally, if there is no need for chemotherapy or postoperative radiation therapy, a complete reconstruction can be completed in less than one year. However, in some situations, chemotherapy or radiation treatment is required, thus prolonging the process slightly. To learn more, please call The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery at (720) 457-4461.
What is a Saline Breast Implant?
Saline implants have two basic components: an outer shell made of silicone polymer and an inner fluid made of saltwater solution. This solution is similar to fluid naturally present in your body.
In consultation with our plastic surgeons, you will choose a fill volume, which directly affects the size of your breasts after reconstruction. One advantage of saline implants is that they have a flexible fill volume, so our surgeons can adjust the volume during the procedure. This means your breasts can look as symmetrical and even as possible.
Compared to silicone breast implants, saline implants tend to have greater projection and rigidity. They tend to feel a little firmer overall. But for some women, saline implants are an ideal option. The only way to know for sure is to visit our plastic surgeons for an individualized consultation.
The Implant-Based Reconstruction Process
Reconstruction with implants – whether saline or silicone – is typically completed in three stages.
- First stage: A tissue expander is placed beneath the skin at the site of the breasts. These are essentially place holders, creating space by stretching the skin over time. The breast implants can be placed once enough space and elasticity has been created. Tissue expanders may be placed soon after a mastectomy, but they don't have to be. You can decide to have your breasts reconstructed with expansion and implants years after your mastectomy, in a delayed reconstruction procedure.
- Second stage: The tissue expanders and any scar tissue is removed. The breast implants are placed into the pockets created by the expanders. You will immediately feel more comfortable than when the expanders were in place. The tightness will decrease quickly as the implants settle into the pockets. 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. These techniques may include fat grafting, nipple reconstruction and areola pigmentation.
As part of the preoperative planning process, you and our plastic surgeons will discuss all of the aspects of your surgery, including whether saline or silicone implants may be right for you. With both types of implants, there are other features from which you will choose, such as:
- Teardrop vs. round shape
- Textured vs. smooth shape
Though these features may not make sense right now, we will make sure you have all the information and guidance you need to choose breast implants for your reconstruction.
To schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons, please call The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery at (720) 457-4461. We are located in Lone Tree, Colorado, and are proud to offer advanced care to women from Denver and all of the surrounding areas.