The use of tissue expanders for breast reconstruction involves a two-stage process. A tissue expander is inserted either at the time of the mastectomy (immediate breast reconstruction) or at a later time (delayed reconstruction). The tissue expander is filled over time to increase the size of the breast mound. Once this is accomplished, a second operation is performed to place a breast implant. Additional procedures such as a capsulotomy or capsulectomy may be performed at the time of the insertion of the implant in order to make changes in the space where the breast implant will be located. It may also be possible to perform nipple and areola reconstruction during this procedure or at a later surgery. Breast implants are manufactured in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and with either smooth or textured surfaces. The method of implant selection and size, along with surgical approach for inserting and positioning breast implants will depend on your preferences, your anatomy, and your surgeon’s recommendation.
The shape and size of the breasts prior to surgery will influence both the recommended treatment and the final results. Breast reconstruction with tissue expanders cannot produce an exact replica of the removed breast. Breast symmetry surgery to produce similar size, shape, or position of the other breast may be considered at the same time or as a subsequent procedure.
Since May 2000, saline-filled breast implant and tissue expander devices have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in breast augmentation and reconstruction. The FDA approved silicone gel implants for use in breast augmentation and reconstruction in November 2006.
Breast implant surgery is contraindicated in women with untreated breast cancer or pre-malignant breast disorders, active infection anywhere in the body, or individuals who are currently pregnant or nursing. Individuals with a weakened immune system (currently receiving chemotherapy or drugs to suppress the immune system), conditions that interfere with blood clotting or wound healing, or have reduced blood supply to the breast tissue from prior surgery or radiation therapy treatments may be at greater risk for complications and poor surgical outcome.
Patients undergoing breast reconstruction surgery with implants must consider the following:
- Breast augmentation or reconstruction with implants is likely not be a one-time surgery.
- Breast implants of any type are not considered lifetime devices. They cannot be expected to last forever. You will likely require future surgery for implant replacement or removal.
Changes that occur to the breasts following augmentation or reconstruction with implants are not reversible. There may be an unacceptable appearance to the breast if you later choose to have breast implants removed
*Disclaimer: Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Results Can Vary Significantly Between Patients. In terms of results and expectations, there are numerous variables with every patient, each surgery and every recovery and healing period. For more information click to read our full Disclaimer