Implant vs. Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery: How to Decide

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Breast reconstruction surgery is a procedure that helps restore the shape and appearance of the breast after mastectomy. There are two main types of breast reconstruction surgery: implant-based reconstruction and flap reconstruction. Implant-based reconstruction involves the use of a silicone or saline implant to create a new breast shape. Flap reconstruction, on the other hand, uses tissue from your own body, such as the abdomen, back, or buttocks, to create a new breast. Both types of reconstruction have their benefits and limitations and your board-certified reconstructive surgeon can help you determine the best option for your needs. Here’s what to know about these two options and how you can select the right one.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Implant and Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery

When deciding between implant and flap breast reconstruction surgery, several factors should be considered; they include the following.

1. Anatomy

Anatomy plays a crucial role in determining the best option for breast reconstruction surgery. Your breast tissue, size, and shape will influence whether an implant or flap reconstruction is more suitable or even possible. If there is not enough tissue available for flap reconstruction, an implant may be the best option. It is important to have a thorough consultation with your plastic surgeon (and your mastectomy surgeon where applicable) to determine what options will be available.

2. Medical History

Your health and medical history can also impact the decision between implant and flap breast reconstruction surgery. Certain medical conditions, such as obesity, smoking, or diabetes, increase the risk of complications overall with reconstructive surgery. Oncologic treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation also increase complications with breast reconstruction. Your reconstructive surgeon will assess your health and help you select the best reconstructive option.

3. Desired Results

Your desired results are an important consideration in choosing between implant and flap breast reconstruction surgery. Flap reconstruction may provide a more natural look and feel but involves a longer recovery time and is limited by amount of donor tissue you have. Conversely, an implant may provide quicker results and a more straightforward recovery but does not feel as natural, and requires multiple surgeries in the long term. Your reconstructive surgeon will assess your desired result and help you select the option that best fits your goals.

4. Cost

Cost is also a consideration when choosing between implant and flap breast reconstruction surgery. Both options vary in cost, and you should discuss the cost with your plastic surgeon and insurance provider to understand the full financial impact of each option. In most cases, insurance covers most of the costs.

5. Personal Preference

Ultimately, your preferences will play the largest role in deciding between implant and flap breast reconstruction surgery. Some women may feel more comfortable with an implant, while others may prefer using their own tissue for reconstruction. Having an open and honest discussion with your plastic surgeon about your preferences and what is most important to you is the first step. They will help you understand the pros and cons of each option and guide you in making an informed decision.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are considering breast reconstruction surgery in Tucson, AZ, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Mahabir and Kurtovic at Tucson Plastic Surgery. Our experienced and board-certified plastic surgeons will provide personalized care and support every step of the way. To schedule a consultation, fill out our online contact form, and one of our team members will contact you to schedule a convenient time.


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