Can my Existing Implant Behind the Muscle Be Left in with a Mastectomy?

I recently found a lump in my breast and an ultrasound showed a tumor and swollen lymph node. I have not received a biopsy yet, but my doctor is referring me to a specialist and has already used the word "mastectomy". I hope I am getting ahead of myself, but looking at my options if it is cancerous. I have saline implants behind the muscle. My breast tissue is very small and I'm wondering if I chose a mastectomy, could my implant remain in without any further reconstruction?

Doctor Answers 5

Implant and mastectomy

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More than likely the implant will have to be removed. If you have a skin sparing or nipple sparing mastectomy, you might be able to have a direct to implant reconstruction.  Usually after mastectomy you will need a larger implant to make up the difference.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Implant may have to be removed

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First of all I'm sorry for you certain anxiety waiting for your results. Without knowing the specifics of you breast size and implant size I can't comment with confidence. Oridinarilly in this situation, the implant would be removed at the time of mastectomy along with the scar tissue (capsule) around the implant. The tricky part here is that the muscle is very thin and attenuated. As a result it is hard to use for the reconstruction. In most cases, I put in an expander at the time of mastectomy and replace it later with an implant. The advantage here is that I can put in the exact amount of fluid necessary to get the volume I need and the patient can have input as to their desired shape. I wish you the best!

M. Scott Haydon, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 92 reviews

Mastectomy and new implant for cancer patient with augmentation

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While there are a number of individual factors to consider, it is generally not a good idea to have radiation therapy with breast implants so the mastectomy is often the best option. Often the mastectomy can be done with a skin-sparing technique, and the reconstruction done at the same time. The new implant would need to be larger to compensate for the breast tissue that was removed, and the use of Alloderm to support the implant is also routine, since the muscle only covers the upper portion of the implant.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

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Your implant may be able to stay in place.

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In many instances the implant can remain in place for a lumpectomy.  If your require a mastectomy then you should see a plastic surgeon regrading your ability to have immediate single stage reconstruction using permanent silicone gel implants and alloderm or a two stage reconstruction using tissue expanders and alloderm.  If you decide you no longer want implants than consultation with a reconstructive surgeon regarding various flp options including the DIEP, TMP, and PAP flaps is helpful.  IN addition I also perform immediate breast reconstruction with fat graft alone.  This technique is newer and requires a conversation about the use of BRAVA after the initial reconstruction.

Breast implants already and reconstruction following mastectomy

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I am sorry to hear of your recent findings and hope for the best for you.  While it is possible that your implants may remain following your mastectomy, if required, it may not be the wisest decision for you.  Without knowing your current breast size or evaluating you, it is difficult to answer your question accurately.  However, if during the procedure, the capsule or muscle covering your implant is violated, it may certainly introduce an infection around your implant.  Another thing to consider is that you will lose some size from the mastectomy alone.  Immediate implant reconstruction would be ideal for you since you have an already formed pocket.  

Exchanging your current implant(s) for larger size, simply to make up the difference after removal of the overlying breast tissue, would be an excellent option in cases like yours.  Consult with a plastic surgeon for examination and to assist you in determining which procedure, if any, is the right option for you.  Best of luck!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.