Breast Reconstruction: Implant or Flap?

When a woman faces the hard decision of having a mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis, very often they will opt for breast reconstruction surgery during, or shortly after the mastectomy. There are several types of reconstruction methods to consider, and it’s important to do the research to decide which is the right one. Breast reconstruction has several purposes – it can replace a similar size and shape of the breast prior to the mastectomy, it helps to permanently regain breast shape and it can help a woman feel whole again. Here we take a look at some options and things to consider during the decision making process.

Breast Reconstruction with Implants

Choosing to get implants is sometimes the easiest breast reconstruction option. Implants cause less scarring and make it easier to choose the size and shape of breast desired. Implants also do not drastically change in size when gaining or losing weight. A downside to implants is that about 50% of women who have implant based reconstruction will need some type of follow-up procedure on their implants in their lifetime. Breast implants may still be a viable option for breast reconstruction even if enduring radiation.

Breast Reconstruction with Body Tissue

Another option that utilizes a woman’s own arteries, muscle, and/or fat to reconstruct a breast, is a flap breast reconstruction. Flap reconstruction is generally more complicated of a procedure, but it does result in breasts that are natural looking, soft and warm to the touch. There are a variety of flap breast reconstruction options, including:

  • TRAM flap, which stands for transverse rectus abdominis, and is when the skin, fat and part of your 6-pack muscles are used for breast reconstruction
  • DIEP flap, which is similar to a TRAM flap, except no muscle is used
  • SIEA or SIEP flap, which is similar to a DIEP flap and doesn’t include any muscle. However, a different section of belly blood vessels are moved, and no incision in the rectus abdominis muscle is required
  • Latissimus Dorsi Flap, which is in the muscle just below your shoulder and behind your armpit is removed and used for breast reconstruction
  • SGAP Flap or Hip Flap, which uses the blood vessel that runs through your buttocks, and skin from your upper buttocks or hips to reconstruct the breast
  • IGAP Flap, which uses the inferior gluteal artery perforator blood vessel and the lower buttocks tissue, near the butt crease
  • TUG Flap, which uses the muscle in the upper inner thigh

This may seem like overwhelming options, however your surgeon will help determine the best procedure personalized to each unique case.

What is the next step?

If you know you will be needing a mastectomy and want more information about breast reconstruction, the first thing to do is schedule a consultation with Dr. Comizio. She will walk you through all of your options, discuss each procedure and determine a customized plan for your situation. Call to schedule a consultation today at (973) 775-9248.