Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center offers breast cancer patients a variety of reconstruction options. We use the most advanced techniques to help you achieve the best results possible with the least amount of downtime and risks. If you’re thinking about breast reconstruction, make an appointment with our breast cancer team today.
Breast implants are a popular option for breast reconstruction. Implants come in many sizes and profiles, fitting different body types and desired results. Implants are filled with either saline or silicone, both of which have been ruled safe by the Food and Drug Administration and can be put under the skin or muscle on your chest.
Breast implants work best for women who have not had radiation. You also may consider implants if you don’t have enough or don’t want to use your own tissue for a flap procedure.
You may choose to have breast reconstruction with implants immediately following cancer surgery. Or, you may decide to wait weeks, months, or even years to decide. Learn more about immediate and delayed breast reconstruction.
In some cases, your surgeon may be able to insert the implant at the same time as your mastectomy. It can take four to six weeks to recover from this type of implant surgery. Be sure to take the time you need to heal in order to reduce the risk of complications.
In most cases, your surgeon will place a tissue expander to stretch the skin and chest muscle. This technique is sometimes called delayed-immediate reconstruction. Over the next several months, saline is gradually added to the expander during clinic visits. Once the pocket for the implant is created, the tissue expander must remain in place for another one to three months. When your body is ready, a surgeon will remove the tissue expander and insert the breast implant. Generally, this last step is outpatient surgery under general anesthesia. Recovery for this surgery is about two weeks.
With breast reconstruction surgery using implants, you may experience:
With breast implants, you may experience longer-term side effects such as:
Some women may choose to recreate the breast using their own tissues, called flap surgery. Abdominal flap surgery uses tissue from your stomach or other parts of the body to form a new breast mound. There are pros and cons to this approach, and it may not be right for everyone. Ask your doctor about which options might be best for you.