Choices in reconstructive procedures

Reconstructive mammaplasty is performed to recreate a breast that has been removed during mastectomy. The extent of the breast reconstruction procedure depends on what changes are desired and what you and your surgeon deem appropriate.

The type of breast reconstruction procedure available to you depends on your medical situation, your breast shape and size, your general health and lifestyle, and your goals. Every woman's situation is unique.

Breast reconstruction can be accomplished by:

  1. use of a prosthesis (a breast implant)
  2. use of your own tissues (a tissue flap with its own blood supply or ‘free-flap’ [DIEP] flap, which involves microsurgery)
  3. combination of a tissue flap and prosthesis.

The above links contain detailed information about each method, and a comparison summary is provided below.

If you are considering breast reconstruction your plastic surgeon can provide you with information that fully explains the risks and complications associated with breast implants, tissue flaps, and with surgery itself. It is recommended that you read all of the information that you can find so that you are well informed to consider reconstructive surgery and evaluate all of your options.

Implant surgery versus flap surgery

Expander & implant Latissimus dorsi flap Pedicle Tram flap
Average Operation Time 1.5 - 2 hrs 3 - 5 hrs 4 - 6 hrs
Average Hospital Stay 0 - 2 days 2 - 3 days 2 - 5 days
Blood transfusion unlikely unlikely maybe
Average time to resume daily activity 2 - 3 weeks 2 - 3 weeks 6 - 8 weeks
Characteristics Uses an implant
No additional scars
Muscle strength not impaired
May or may not use an implant
Scar on back
May have some muscle weakness in shoulder
No implant
May have scar
May have persistent muscle weakness in abdomen
May result in flatter abdomen (tummy tuck)

Note: The cost of breast reconstruction includes surgeon's fees and hospital charges. The cost to you will vary depending on your medical circumstances and your insurance cover. In general, implant reconstruction is initially less expensive and less extensive than flap surgery, and immediate reconstruction is less expensive than delayed reconstruction. Consult your surgeon and your insurance company for more information.