There are several options in breast reconstruction. Not all will be available to each patient, and all have advantages and disadvantages. Breast reconstruction falls into three main categories
- Reconstruction using implants
- Reconstruction using the patients own tissue
- A mixture of tissue and implants
Reconstruction using implants tends to be a simpler procedure than using body tissue. It does require two operations but the surgical time is less and more straightforward than reconstruction from tissue. It rarely matches the shape of the other breast unless this is particularly uplifted and tends to produce a breast mound with no droop. For that reason it is more suited to slimmer women. There may be maintenance surgery required after about 10 years. Patients requiring radiotherapy are generally advised against an implant only reconstruction.
Reconstruction from body tissue can give excellent, long term results. It does tend to require more involved and therefore higher risk surgery. Surgery involves taking tissue from a donor site, usually the abdomen (DIEP), or inner thigh (TUG). This will leave scars in those areas. The main advantage of this type of reconstruction is that the reconstructed breast behaves and has the same texture as the opposite side. It will have a natural droop and will gain and loose weight and change shape over time as the other breast will. The reconstructed breast will have no feeling or sensation. The finished result tends to improve over the years and rarely needs any surgical adjustments.