Approximately 80,000 women underwent breast reconstruction following mastectomy in the United States last year according to the annual statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The majority of these women began the reconstructive process immediately at the time of their mastectomies which has significant technical and psychological advantages. The small percentage of mastectomy patients who are not candidates for immediate reconstruction may be candidates for delayed breast reconstruction.

Breast reconstruction procedures can be classified into two basic types; one is implant based the other is based on autogenous tissue (the patients’ own tissue). One method is not necessarily better than the other and multiple factors are taken into account when making the decision as to which type of reconstruction is better suited to a particular patient. The patient’s age, health status, body type, quality and quantity of available tissue for the reconstruction, planned radiation therapy, aesthetic goals for the reconstruction and patient’s preference are among the many factors that play a role in the decision making process.

Currently approximately two thirds of all the breast reconstruction procedures in the United States are implant based and most of these employ a tissue expander which is a temporary device that “stretches” the chest tissues in order to create adequate space for a breast implant to fit without tension. Most of the reconstructions performed using the patient’s own tissues use the lower abdominal tissue that is usually discarded during a “tummy tuck”. This surgery is called a TRAM flap and there are several variations of this operation depending on how the abdominal tissue is transferred. Occasionally tissue from the back (latissimus dorsi flap) or tissue from the buttocks area (gluteal flaps), can be used to reconstruct the breast.

A consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon experienced in breast reconstruction is the best way for a patient to determine what procedure is best in their case.  For more detailed information regarding breast reconstruction surgery, please contact us to schedule your personal consultation.

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