Understanding Direct-to-Implant Breast Reconstruction

implantDirect-to-implant breast reconstruction, also known as immediate or one-step breast reconstruction, is the process of completing both the mastectomy and the breast reconstruction in a single surgical procedure.

Traditional Breast Reconstruction

Until the early 2000s, breast reconstruction involved several surgical procedures. In traditional breast reconstruction, the plastic surgeon would remove the breast tissue, then insert an empty bag called a tissue expander under the breast. Over the next few months, the surgeon would fill the tissue expander with a saline fluid that stretched the skin and chest muscle. The plastic surgeon would then replace the tissue expander with a permanent silicone or saline breast implant during a second surgery.

Direct-to-Implant Reconstruction

Thanks to improvements in plastic surgery, surgeons can now insert the permanent implant into the breast directly after the mastectomy. How? Surgeons use additional skin tissue which creates the pocket for the implant to be inserted. In other words, the patient’s skin and chest muscle no longer need to be stretched by the tissue expander; the additional skin tissue takes their place.

Why This Matters

As you can imagine, many women opt to have direct-to-implant reconstruction because it eliminates months of visits to the doctor to fill the tissue expander, as well as the additional plastic surgery needed to replace the expander with an implant. Plus, studies show that women who opt to have direct-to-implant reconstruction experience higher levels of self-confidence than those who choose the traditional route. That said, for some women, the traditional route is safer for their bodies and may be their unique diagnosis.

Help Support the AiRS Foundation!

A number of women cannot afford any kind of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy due to breast cancer. Because reconstruction is often a vital step toward rebuilding confidence, we at the AiRS Foundation offer grants for women to receive this surgery. But we can’t do this without support from our donors. Consider helping a woman in need today! Every dollar — even just one dollar — makes an enormous impact!