About the Procedure
Breast reconstruction using implants can be done at the same time as your mastectomy (single-stage reconstruction) or as a delayed procedure (multi-staged reconstruction). In the latter case, a tissue expander is inserted to help stretch the muscle and tissue and make room for the implant.
Breast Reconstruction at Massachusetts General Hospital
Our plastic surgeons have extensive experience in all types of breast reconstructive techniques, including the newest and most innovative procedures. When appropriate, we combine techniques, using flaps, implants and nipple tattooing to achieve the most natural-looking outcome.
All forms of breast reconstruction after mastectomy have inherent risks, which will be fully discussed during your consultation.
Single-stage reconstruction allows you to have your breast reconstructed during one rather than multiple procedures. If you have a good amount of healthy breast skin after your mastectomy, you may be a good candidate for this procedure.
In single-stage reconstruction, the surgeon inserts a saline or silicone gel implant behind the chest wall immediately following your mastectomy. At Massachusetts General Hospital, we currently use acellular dermal matrix to position the implant, which adds a protective layer between implant and skin for a more natural-looking result.
Reconstruction Using Tissue Expanders
An alternative to single-stage reconstruction is multi-staged reconstruction using tissue expanders.
In this type of reconstruction, a temporary tissue expander is placed behind the chest wall (either right after the mastectomy or as a delayed procedure). After the device is in place, fluid is periodically injected into the expander. This allows the muscle and tissue to stretch and accommodate a permanent implant.
The expansion process can take a few weeks or months, depending upon your desired breast size and how much fluid is added at the time of the initial procedure. After expansion is complete, you will undergo an outpatient procedure in which the surgeon replaces the expander with a permanent breast implant.