In some cases, our surgeons may be able to put in a breast implant without a tissue expansion. That depends on if you have enough healthy skin left in the breast area after a mastectomy. It also depends on if you have enough blood supply to the skin after a mastectomy. This is called direct-to-implant reconstruction.
Before your surgery, you and your surgeon will decide if this technique is possible. However, your surgeon can only make the final decision in the operating room. He or she can truly see the health of your breast skin after removing the cancer.
During direct-to-implant reconstruction, your surgeon puts the implant inside the remaining skin right after your mastectomy. This can prevent you from needing multiple surgeries and treatment sessions to expand the skin. There is a limitation on the size of the breast.
Your surgeon will put the implant on the chest wall behind the pectoralis muscle (the push-up muscle in your chest) right after the mastectomy. During the next few months, your breast will heal and the implant will move into place. After that, your reconstruction is complete unless you choose to make other improvements. For example, you may want to have nipple reconstruction [link to Nipple reconstruction page] or nipple or areola tattooing [link to Nipple or areola tattooing page] later on.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I can’t have direct-to-implant reconstruction? If you don’t have enough skin to create a breast, a direct-to-implant reconstruction may not be right for you. In this case, you might need tissue expansion. If you have delayed immediate reconstruction, your surgeon can put in the tissue expander during your mastectomy. Learn more about implant reconstruction with tissue expansion [link to Implant reconstruction with tissue expansion page].