Post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is surgery to remodel the shape of the breast after having a mastectomy. A mastectomy is surgery where part or all of the breast is removed to treat breast cancer (tumor). This may include removing one or both breasts, with or without the skin which covers them. Reconstruction surgery is done to make a breast that comes close in form and appearance to a natural breast.
Immediate post-mastectomy combined autogenous tissue and implant breast reconstruction is surgery done right after mastectomy. This may help you better cope with the loss of a breast. However, a second operation at a later date will be needed. A combined autogenous tissue and implant breast reconstruction is done if the chest skin and tissues are tight and flat. You and your caregiver will decide if this type of reconstruction after mastectomy is right for you. For this surgery, caregivers use a tissue flap taken from another part of your body to rebuild the shape of the breast. The tissue flap is usually taken from your lower abdomen (stomach), buttocks, thigh, or upper back and is made up of skin, fat, and muscle.
A tissue expander (balloon-like device) implant will be used to stretch the skin and tissues of the chest. It will be filled with saline (salt water) by your caregiver regularly. A tissue expander is only temporary and you will need another surgery to replace it with a permanent implant.
A permanent implant may be filled with saline or silicone gel. Sometimes, surgery to reshape the other breast may be needed after reconstruction to match the new breast. Surgery to create a nipple and areola may also be performed at a later date.