A breast reconstruction is very complicated in terms of the surgical options and how it's done. Breast augmentation, as complicated as that seems with all the different options, magnify that times ten or even a hundred-fold is what women have to consider going through breast reconstruction.

But in general, the results can be very good. And in the end, the most common way it's done is with implants, the same implants that are available for augmentation. Because the breast is removed, and with that all the blood supply and nerves, you have to be very careful. An in-between step is required, placing a temporary implant that's not full yet so it doesn't put pressure on the skin or the incision it has to heal. This is a tissue expander.

This is something Angelina Jolie went through, and her plastic surgeon discussed this on the Today Show last year. She had a tissue expander placed, and it's a temporary implant that saves the space. It goes in like a deflated balloon.
Once the tissue recovers and the incision heals, it can be filled back up again. A second surgery is done to remove that temporary implant and put the final implant in.

You can imagine that once the breast is removed, the skin that's left behind is very thin. So the appearance of the implant through that skin can sometimes be unnatural, and so fat grafting allows us to thicken that tissue up to provide really nice results combining some of these techniques that we've learned from cosmetic surgery for reconstruction patients.

I have some patients who feel like they look better after the reconstruction than they did before they were diagnosed with cancer.

How Is Breast Reconstruction Performed?

Dr. Kamakshi Zeidler explains just how much more difficult breast reconstruction is than breast augmentation and how it is typically performed.