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Dr. Michaels' Blog

Breast Reconstruction 3: Implants

The most common way to reconstruct a breast is with an implant. There are good reasons for the popularity of this method: It is the easiest to go through. It involves the shortest time in surgery. It does not involve other body parts. And in the right patient can give great results.

But implant reconstruction can be complicated. To begin with, you need enough skin to cover the implant, which may mean the skin needs to be stretched. This stretching process is called tissue expansion.  It is done with a thick-walled implant filled, over time, with more and more saline.  The skin stretches to accommodate the changing size of the implant, and when it has stretched enough, the tissue expander is exchanged for a softer more permanent implant filled either with saline or silicone.

Complications are most often related to the fact that implants are artificial.  Your body can overreact to them, causing excessive scarring and ultimately, to displacement and pain. Finally, like any manmade object, implants can break. Both excessive scarring and rupture of the implant can lead to additional surgeries.

In the right person, implant reconstruction can be the best option. Breast reconstruction is all about creating symmetry, and for women who have had a double mastectomy, implants are my preferred method of reconstruction.