Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction

Implant-based reconstruction surgeries utilize saline or silicone gel implants to restore symmetry to the breast area after a mastectomy. Like autologous reconstructions, implant-based procedures are initiated at the time of the mastectomy. Some implant-based reconstructions can be fully completed on the day of the mastectomy, but many patients undergo an additional, minor surgery 8-10 weeks after the mastectomy.

Implant-based breast reconstructions may be appropriate for patients who:

  • still have some underlying fat in the upper portion of the chest wall
  • do not have extensive scarring from radiation treatment
  • have good elasticity in their native breast skin, but need extra volume to achieve their desired results
  • do not wish to undergo autologous procedures that harvest tissue from other parts of the body

In the most commonly performed implant-based reconstruction, a tissue expander is placed under the pectoralis muscle at the time of the mastectomy. A tissue expander is similar to an implant, but it has a valve that allows the surgeon to add additional fluid to customize the size and shape of the new breast. The remaining native breast skin is re-draped over the expander and muscle to complete closure of the new breast. The tissue expander essentially acts as a place-holder, creating the space that will eventually receive a permanent breast implant.

During the 8-10 weeks following the mastectomy, the surgeon will gradually add fluid to the tissue expander, giving the remaining breast skin an opportunity to adjust to the volume of the selected implant. The addition of fluid is usually painless, and requires only a few minutes at each visit.

Once the tissue expander has been filled to the desired volume of the implant, the patient undergoes a relatively simple procedure to replace the tissue expander with a permanent implant. This surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis, and most patients resume their normal activities within a few days of the second surgery.

All mastectomies and implant-based reconstructions are initiated at Mount Sinai Hospital. For patients who select a staged procedure, the final placement of the implant occurs at our comfortable, state-of-the-art facility in Manhattan. We are committed to making the reconstruction process as comfortable and convenient as possible, and will happily assist patients and their families with lodging and other logistics.

For an implant-based breast reconstruction consultation, call (212) 288-9800.