Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction

Click below to learn more about Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction.

When Do I get the Implant?

  • Some patients are eligible to have breast implants placed at the time of mastectomy. If you are a candidate for immediate implant reconstruction, we will discuss this option with you.
  • Most patients require the use of a breast tissue expander in preparation for future reconstruction. The tissue expander is usually placed at the time of mastectomy, which adds approximately 1.5 hours to the length of the mastectomy and typically does not add any length to the hospital stay compared to a mastectomy without a tissue expander.

How Does The Tissue Expander Work?

Tissue expanders in the breast allow the breast skin to heal and become expanded to make a more appropriate pocket for the future implant. This allows us to have more control over the final breast shape. You will return to the clinic on a weekly basis to have fluid added to the expander until you reach your desired size. The expansion process usually begins at about 2-3 weeks after your mastectomy and expander placement. A small needle is placed into an injection port through the breast skin and saline is injected into the expander.

Is Tissue Expansion Painful?

Most patients have minimal feeling along the mastectomy skin and report the needle is painless or causes minimal discomfort.

When Do I Get The Breast Implant?

After the final expansion, the tissue expander is left in place for several months (3-6 months) to allow the newly stretched tissue to settle in place and to reduce the chance of recoil of the skin after implant placement. A second surgery is necessary to remove the tissue expander and replace it with an implant, either saline-filled or silicone-filled implant. You will typically go home the same day of surgery at this stage.

What About My Opposite Breast?

If you had a mastectomy on one side, it is possible to have an operation on the unaffected breast at the same time as placement of the implant. The goal will be to reduce, enlarge, and/or lift the unaffected breast to match as closely as possible. It is important to note that the natural breast will change with weight changes and aging, while the breast with the implant will not. Over time, this may lead to a less even look, and you may desire surgery in the future to revise the breasts.

What About Types of Implants?

  • There are two types of breast implants: saline and silicone. We will use either implant you choose; however you should know that silicone implants give a better quality to the breast feel and shape.
  • In the past, there were concerns that silicone implants could cause other health problems. In fact, in the 1990s the FDA put a hold on silicone implants for nearly a decade to study this. Studies continue to confirm what they originally found over a decade ago: that there is no link between silicone implants and lupus, immune system disorders, connective tissue disease or rheumatoid arthritis—silicone implants are a safe option to saline implants
  • If you are having reservations about the use of silicone implants, we will discuss the option of saline implants
  • It is your body, and it is your choice

What About Nipple/Areola Reconstruction?

Nipple/Areola reconstruction may also be performed at the completion of the reconstructive process followed by tattooing of the areola. This is done as an outpatient procedure – you will go home the same day

Photos are a great way to discuss a procedure, which is why we love to use them!

Photos are also a great way to help you understand your individualized and realistic outcome. Because each person is different in size, shape, body type, and desire, we feel that photos are best “interpreted” and discussed together in consultation. That is why we will use them in a one-on-one discussion that will help you understand the process and results that are achievable in your particular case.

(515) 247-3121
1111 6th Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50314

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