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Breast Reconstruction Procedure

What to Expect


Though this procedure was recently out of the question after surgical procedures such as mastectomy, this type of cosmetic surgery is becoming more common. Though most health plans cover the cost for this operation in the US, some do not, considering it be cosmetic; paying for this procedure oneself may be very costly. However, as noted, most plans do cover this procedure as the cost may outweigh the converse cost of counseling for the individual as they try to cope with the emotional adjustment of losing a breast.

For individuals who have undergone a mastectomy due to cancer, they are only eligible for this procedure if the disease was eliminated due to the breast removal. It is possible for this procedure to be carried out immediately following the mastectomy, so the individual awakes with the newly formed breast already in place. As with many other procedures, those with high blood pressure, obese individuals or those who smoke are poor candidates for this operation.

Breast reconstruction is a large undertaking. Most procedures take several operations. Sometimes these follow-up surgeries are spread out over weeks or months. If an implant is used, the individual runs the same risks and complications as those who use them for breast augmentation.

There are many methods for breast reconstruction.

The two most common are:

Skin expansion:
By far the most common method, the surgeon inserts a small balloon expander beneath the skin and periodically, over weeks or months, injects a saline solution to slowly expand the overlaying skin. Once the expander has reached an acceptable size, it may be removed and replaced with a more permanent implant. Reconstruction of the areola and nipple are performed in a separate operation after the skin has stretched to its final size.

Flap reconstruction:
The second most common procedure uses tissue from other parts of the patient's body, such as the back, buttocks, thigh or abdomen. This procedure may be performed by leaving the donor tissue connected to the original site to retain its blood supply (the veins are tunneled beneath the skin surface to the new site) or it may be cut off and new blood supply may be connected.

This procedure has the downside of leaving scar tissue in both the donor and breast area, but, since the donor is the recipient, tissue rejection is not an issue. Also, the patient may end up with a better contoured abdomen if that was the selected donor area.

External links
from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons

from American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Breast reconstruction procedures have become more and more successful as doctors have found new ways to create a natural and healthy looking breast, even after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. This is good news for women who have not had the choice in the past, and for women who are considering ways to feel normal again after these difficult and often traumatic illnesses and surgeries. So what can you expect from a breast reconstruction procedure.

A Consultation with a Doctor

Make sure that you find the right surgeon to complete your breast reconstruction procedure. There are many talented doctors and surgeon who are capable of doing the job well, but you also want to feel like they’ve got the time to listen to your concerns and answer your questions. You should feel comfortable and confident with your surgeon, and you should know everything about the breast reconstruction procedure before going into it. If you’re not happy with the way your conversation with a doctor goes, be sure to see someone else.

The Surgery

The surgery itself is usually not a very complicated surgery. Breast reconstruction procedures often deal with skin and tissues, but not muscles. This means that there are fewer risks both for during surgery and afterwards.


Recovery after a breast reconstruction procedure can be difficult at first. Most likely you’ll have drainage for the first day or two after the procedure, and you will have to remain in bed and not lift anything for at least two days. After that things will begin to normalize again and you’ll get to shower and move around a bit, and you’ll start wearing a compression bra to help you feel confident and supported as you heal.

Within a few weeks you’ll feel much better and almost back to normal!

Compression Bra - Fits C/D Cup

Compression Bra - Fits B/C Cup