What happens during breast reconstruction surgery?

While there are many options available in post-mastectomy reconstruction, you and your surgeon should discuss the one that's best for you.
  • Skin expansion. The most common technique combines skin expansion and subsequent insertion of an implant.
  • Flap reconstruction. An alternative approach to implant reconstruction involves creation of a skin flap using tissue taken from other parts of the body, such as the back, abdomen, or buttocks.
Most breast reconstruction involves a series of procedures that occur over time. Usually, the initial reconstructive operation is the most complex. Follow-up surgery may be required to replace a tissue expander with an implant or to reconstruct the nipple and the areola. Many surgeons recommend an additional operation to enlarge, reduce, or lift the natural breast to match the reconstructed breast. But keep in mind, this procedure may leave scars on an otherwise normal breast and may not be covered by insurance.