Breast Reconstruction Surgery Types: Flap Reconstruction vs. Implant Reconstruction

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Women who have decided to undergo mastectomy as a treatment for breast cancer will also be faced with the difficult choice of whether or not to choose breast reconstruction. For women who choose to have breast reconstruction surgery, there are two main types of surgical techniques: flap reconstruction and implant reconstruction. Below we will discuss the two types of breast reconstruction, their pros and cons, and how to choose the best one for you.

What is breast reconstruction surgery?

Usually breast reconstruction occurs shortly after mastectomy, a procedure in which a surgeon removes the patient’s breast tissue to remove any cancerous cells. Breast reconstruction also can be done longer after mastectomy or lumpectomy, if a woman needs more time to decide or heal. During reconstruction, a plastic surgeon creates a breast shape using either an artificial implant (implant reconstruction), a flap of tissue from another place on your body (flap reconstruction), or in some cases, both.

Flap Reconstruction

A tissue flap procedure (also known as autologous tissue reconstruction) is one way to reconstruct the shape of your breast after a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction with flap surgery is a complex procedure performed by a plastic surgeon. Much of the breast reconstruction using your body's own tissue can be accomplished at the time of your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), though sometimes it can be done as a separate procedure later (delayed reconstruction).

Pros and Cons of Flap Reconstruction

Like anything else, flap reconstruction surgery has pros and cons. Firstly, they generally look more natural and behave more like natural breast tissue than implants. They will not need to be replaced and cannot rupture as implants might.  

A few downsides of flap procedure are that the flap procedure requires more surgery and a longer recovery time than breast implants, there can be negative reactions at the areas where the skin came from, and the procedure isn’t a great fit for everyone.  

Implant Reconstruction

Another type of breast reconstruction uses breast implants–silicone casings filled with silicone gel or saline—to reshape the breasts after a mastectomy. Similar to a flap reconstruction, an implant reconstruction can either be performed at the time of your mastectomy or later down the line.

 Pros and Cons of Implant Reconstruction

 The pros of implant reconstruction are that it’s a relatively simple surgery and requires less overall incisions than flap reconstruction, since you’re not using “donor” tissue from other places in the body.

Disadvantages of the implant reconstruction are the fact that implants won’t last forever, so you will likely need additional surgery down the line to maintain results. Implants do run the risk of being able to rupture or tear, and implants can look a bit less natural than flap reconstruction.

Whatever you choose, breast reconstruction after cancer is an emotional time. Finding a surgeon who is experienced and cares is the first step in the process. If you’re considering breast reconstruction surgery in Orlando, call the specialists at HZ Plastic Surgery today.