Reconstructive Breast Surgery

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Reconstructive breast surgery is an option for women who have had a partial or full mastectomy or double mastectomy to treat breast cancer. While most women who have a lumpectomy do not need reconstructive breast surgery, reconstructive techniques may used to improve the contour of the breast.

The objective of reconstructive breast surgery is to create a breast mound that approximates the form and appearance of the patient's natural breast. Reconstructive breast surgery may be performed immediately following a mastectomy, or surgery may be delay and performed at a later time. Delayed surgery is often recommended when radiation therapy is part of the treatment protocol.

Two effective approaches to reconstructive surgery are:

  • Autologous tissue reconstructive surgery. This procedure uses a patient's own tissues to reconstruct the breast. A common approach is to use an area of fat, skin and muscle from the abdomen to rebuild the breast mound.
  • Expander/implant reconstructive surgery. Expanders are empty silicone "envelopes" placed under the pectoralis muscle that are gradually filled with saline solution over a period of several weeks, allowing the skin and soft tissues of the breast to grow around it. An implant is an envelope already filled with liquid prior to implantation.

For women facing treatment for breast cancer and desiring reconstructive breast surgery, the Breast Oncology Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital provides state-of-the-art care in world-class cancer facility in the Boston area. Care is coordinated between our specialists in the Breast Oncology Program with our highly trained surgeons in the Division of Plastic Surgery's Breast Center.

Learn more about reconstructive breast surgery at the Breast Oncology Program.

State-of-the-art reconstructive breast surgery

Surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital have specialized expertise in perforator flap reconstruction and we are one of the select few hospitals nationwide that offers deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP) flap surgery. DIEP surgery is an innovative breast reconstruction procedure that uses a flap of complete tissue—including blood vessels, skin and fat—from a woman's lower abdomen as donor tissue. These blood vessels are then attached to the blood vessels in the woman's chest to reconstruct the breast. This delicate reconstructive procedure provides a slimmer, more natural-looking breast, maintaining core breast strength, and a quick recovery.

Brigham and Women's Hospital provides the most advanced treatment options for patients with breast cancer, including reconstructive breast surgery. We offer therapies for a wide variety of cancers affecting women, including ovarian and endometrial cancer treatment and other gynecological cancer therapies.

In addition, Brigham and Women's Hospital provides treatment for all types of cancers, including treatments such as lung cancer treatment, treatment for head and neck cancers, and prostate cancer therapy.

Learn more about Reconstructive Breast Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

New Approaches to Breast Reconstruction Surgery Video

Matthew Carty, MD, Director, Lower Extremity Transplant Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital, describes innovative breast reconstruction techniques known as flaps. A flap procedure takes tissue from one part of the body and moves it to the chest in order to reconstruct a patient’s breast. Flap procedures offer breast reconstruction options to patients who are not candidates for implant-based breast reconstruction. Read transcript.

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