What is Implant Reconstruction?

Implant breast reconstruction is the most common type of breast reconstruction performed in the United States. It is a surgical procedure which uses an implant to restore breast shape and volume following mastectomy. Benefits of implant-based breast reconstruction include shorter surgery and faster recovery compared to tissue-based breast reconstruction such as DIEP flap breast reconstruction. Because implants are not lifetime devices, additional surgery is often needed in the future to ensure implants are replaced when necessary to avoid implant related complications. Your surgeon will review implant safety at your consultation to help you figure out if implant breast reconstruction is the best option for you. 

Before + After

Patient Results

Breast reconstruction surgery is often a life-changing experience for our patients. Our goal is to help our patients feel whole again after undergoing breast cancer treatment. View our gallery to learn more about the various reconstructive surgeries performed by our board-certified plastic surgeons at Tucson Plastic Surgery.


Breast Implant Types

You can choose between two types of breast implants for your breast augmentation. These include silicone and saline implants.

Silicone Implants

This is the more common variation of implants. Silicone implants mimic the feel of a natural breast and contain silicone. The implant is made of a silicone shell and is also filled with medical grade silicone gel to give the implant are more soft, natural feel. Over the years, implant technology has significantly improved, and silicone gel filled implants are much more durable than ever before.

Saline Implants

Saline implants are made of the same silicone shell as silicone gel filled implants, however they are filled with sterile salt water. Saline implants in general feel firmer and have more rippling than silicone gel filled implants, which can make them feel overall less realistic and natural. If the implant ruptures, the sterile salt water is naturally absorbed and released from the body which results in an immediate volume deflation on the chest.

Single-Stage vs. Two-Stage Implant Reconstruction

When receiving breast reconstruction, you can decide between a single-stage or two-stage reconstruction.

Single Stage Breast Reconstruction (Direct to Implant)

During a single stage reconstruction, the final implant is placed at the time of the mastectomy without the need for tissue expanders. This is ideal for patients who are overall healthy, non-smokers and want to avoid two surgeries.

Two Stage Breast Reconstruction (Tissue Expander/Implant)

During a two-stage reconstruction, a tissue expander is inserted into the mastectomy pocket to slowly expand the space over several weeks. After the final size is reached with the tissue expander, a second surgery is planned for exchanging the expander to the final implant. This procedure requires two surgeries and multiple office visit with your plastic surgeon to achieve the desired volume of expansion over a period of several weeks. The final implant is usually placed two months after the initial surgery.

Breast Implant Reconstruction Incisions 

Breast implant reconstruction incisions fall into three categories: inframammary incisions, vertical incisions, and transverse incisions. It is best to consult with your doctor when deciding on the right incision for your needs.

Inframammary Incision

An inframammary incision is placed at the inflammatory fold just under the breast.

Vertical Incision

Vertical incisions include the classic vertical incision, circum-vertical incision, as well as anchor or “wise pattern” incision.

Transverse Incision

Transverse incisions include the lateral incision, circum-lateral incision, and transverse incision.

Breast Implant Reconstruction Pockets

Above the Muscle (“Pre-Pectoral Pocket”)

This option involves placement of the breast implant under the skin and over the chest muscle.

Under the Muscle (“Sub-Pectoral Pocket”)

Often referred to as submuscular, this involves the placement of the breast implant under the pectoralis major muscle.

Recovery Process

Breast Implant Reconstruction Recovery

4-6 Weeks

Recovery from implant breast reconstruction surgery takes around 4-6 weeks. Most patient will have a drain for about 1 week. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on how to best care for your surgery sites during recovery, as well as how to properly take any medications. Do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any post-surgery questions or concerns.

Patient Reviews

Words cannot express how much I appreciate the entire team at Tucson Plastic Surgery. Being diagnosed with breast cancer has led me down a road I never intended to go. The care and compassion that…
- MM
My surgeon is Dr Mahabar and this is about my experience having D Flap reconstructive surgery. First l need to say he's an amazing surgeon. He turned my radiation scars and horrible mastectomy scars into…
- JU
Dr. Kurtovic is amazing in so many ways. She is friendly, sincere, honest and you should definitely trust her expert opinion. I was a little hesitant myself, but I am so thankful I let her…
- KJ
Feel Whole Again

Who is a good candidate for Implant Reconstruction?

Individuals who have enough healthy skin and tissue following mastectomy to support and cover a breast implant, who would like to avoid incisions and scars that come with flap reconstruction, and do not need radiation therapy are often good candidates for breast implant reconstruction surgery. The best way to determine if this procedure is right for you is through a consultation appointment with your plastic surgeon. During this appointment, you can discuss your goals and concerns, as well as ask any questions that you may have regarding breast reconstruction.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take implants to settle after reconstruction?

It generally takes about three months for breast implants to fully settle after reconstruction.

What to expect after breast implant reconstruction?

After breast implant reconstruction, you may feel sore for the first two weeks, but your doctor will provide pain medications to ensure your comfort. During this period, you’ll want to avoid lifting heavy objects, strenuous activities, and sleeping on your stomach or sides. Six to eight weeks after the surgery, you will likely be able to return to work.

How long does it take for swelling to go down after implant reconstruction?

It can take about eight weeks for the swelling and bruising to fully diminish.

How long does it take for a breast to reach its final size and shape after implant reconstruction?

It can take three to six months for the breasts to reach their final shape and size.

Will I still have to have mammograms and perform self-breast exams after implant reconstruction?

If you have had a mastectomy which removes all the breast tissue, mammograms are not needed. However, patients who have a partial mastectomy, which removes only part of the breast, will require future mammogram screening for breast cancer.

Silvia Kurtovic, MD & Raman Mahabir, MD

Board Certified Plastic Surgeons

At Tucson Plastic Surgery, we have a patient-centric approach that sets us apart from the rest. We take the time to really get to know you and your aesthetic goals during one-on-one conversations which help us to fully understand your motivations.

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