Q: What is implant reconstruction?

December 17th, 2010
By: Dr. Carlin Vickery and Dr. Leo Keegan

A: Implant reconstruction surgeries use saline or silicone gel implants to restore shape and symmetry to the breast area after a mastectomy. In the most commonly performed implant reconstruction, a tissue expander is placed inside the breast flap at the time of the mastectomy. 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 new breast implant. Once the tissue expander has been filled to the desired volume of the implant, the patient undergoes an additional surgery to replace the tissue expander with a permanent implant.

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