If you choose to opt for a breast reconstruction as part of your treatment, you may have the option of having your breast reconstruction start either during the mastectomy (immediate breast reconstruction), or in a separate operation after the mastectomy (delayed breast reconstruction), to allow recovery time and strength rebuilding after surgery.
This choice is a personal one, and also dependent on factors such as the type and stage of cancer, your personal preference and if you need any other treatment. Please remember to discuss all the different options with your surgeon, who will be able to advise on the best approach for you.
One-Stage breast reconstruction
A One-Stage Breast Reconstruction is a procedure in which an implant only is inserted into the breast.
An implant-only breast reconstruction is an operation in which a silicone implant is inserted under your chest muscle. It will take a few weeks to recover from this operation, and you will feel some soreness or tightness in your chest area.
Two-Stage breast reconstruction
During a Two-Stage Breast Reconstruction, an expander, an expandable device with a port, will be used to create space for the final implant, which will be placed during a subsequent procedure.
Through the port sterile saline will be gradually injected over a period of several weeks. This is usually done at your surgeon’s office with local anaesthesia.
When the skin covering the breast area has expanded enough, the expander will be removed during a second operation, and a permanent implant placed into the expanded pocket.
Around 20% of the fill volume of the expander will be filled during the expander placement.
Autologous (own tissue) breast reconstruction
An autologous operation is when skin, fat and/or muscle from another part of your body (donor site) are used to create your new breast.
An autologous reconstruction requires a little more recovery time than an implant or expander only, and may mean a few days in hospital.
There are several types of flap reconstruction but most surgeons choose either flaps from the back (latissimus dorsi) or flaps from the abdomen (TRAM and DIEP flaps).