Three Types of Breast Reconstruction

As you might expect, there are different kinds of breast reconstruction. The type of reconstruction that’s right for you might be different than the type right for a friend who’s battled breast cancer or even another family member who’s undergone a mastectomy. Reconstruction is highly dependent on your unique body.

The best way to know which kind of breast reconstruction is right for you? Talking with your physician.

He or she will discuss the options available and offer advice on the correct procedure. That said, it’s always helpful to be informed about your options before your consult. There are three main types of breast reconstruction: implant-based reconstruction, autologous tissue reconstruction, and a combination of the two. Here’s a brief overview of the three main types of reconstruction so you’re aware of the options available to you:

Implant-based reconstruction.

In implant-based reconstruction, the plastic surgeon restores the breast using an artificial breast implant. Breast implants are silicone bags that often contain saline (salt water) or silicone gel. The bags are specially shaped to look and feel like breasts. Implant-based reconstruction can be performed either during the mastectomy or afterward in a procedure called delayed reconstruction.

Autologous tissue reconstruction

In autologous tissue reconstruction (a.k.a. “flap” reconstruction), the entire breast is reconstructed using the patient’s body fat rather than an artificial implant. The tissue in this procedure can come from the abdomen, buttock or thighs, and consists only of fat and skin, no muscles. As with the combination option, there must be enough excess fat on the patient’s body for this option to work. Additionally, if the patient gains or loses weight after the procedure, the breasts will also grow or shrink accordingly. Flap reconstruction can similarly be undergone during  the mastectomy, after the mastectomy, or in stages, during and after the mastectomy.

A combination of implant and autologous tissue reconstruction

A combination of implant and autologous tissue reconstruction involves using both tissue from the patient’s back (i.e. the latissimus dorsi muscle) and an implant to reconstruct the breast. This type of surgery requires the patient to have enough fat along the back to recreate the breast. Patients who are exceptionally thin may not be eligible for this option. Combination reconstruction can be performed during the same surgery as the mastectomy, afterward, or in stages — during and after the mastectomy.

If you’re a woman in need of reconstruction, don’t hesitate to apply for a grant from AiRS!

Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy due to cancer is often a vital step toward feeling whole again. But many women cannot afford the procedure, which can be costly. That’s why we at the AiRS Foundation offer grants for women to receive reconstruction. Applying for one of our grants for breast reconstruction is easy!

We’ve tried our best to make the application as straightforward as possible, and we have a fast return rate so you’ll know the status of your application quickly. Here’s where you can learn more about how to apply. If you are a woman in need of reconstruction, we hope to hear from you. It’s our mission to help you feel whole again!