What is Breast Reconstruction?

1 in 8 women born today will at some point in their lives have a diagnosis of breast cancer. Surgical and medical treatment for this disease continues to evolve and improve. Breast reconstruction plays a vital role in this process.

Every woman has the right to discuss her reconstructive options with a plastic surgeon and we believe in this as well. At Forsyth Plastic Surgery, we provide a wide array of reconstructive options which include both using the patient’s own tissue as well as using the help of prosthetic materials and implants to restore breast shape, size, form, and symmetry. Each reconstruction is tailored to the patient’s needs and desires.

What to expect:

Breast cancer treatment may involve removing just a lump or mastectomy, or removal of the breast. This oftentimes includes the nipple and some of the skin around the nipple. It is possible to preserve the nipple in some cases and we can talk about if that is possible for you. A mastectomy results in a scar in the center of the breast and we will use the same scar for reconstruction. Some women may also require chemotherapy or radiation therapy as part of their breast cancer treatment. While radiation does make reconstruction more challenging, we still have options for reconstruction. Chemotherapy should not significantly change the appearance of the breast reconstruction in most cases.

Reconstruction Options:

1. Implant Reconstruction:

This is the most common reconstruction and involves two separate operations. A tissue expander is usually placed in the breast directly after the mastectomy while you are still asleep. The tissue expander will be gradually filled up by our surgeons in the office each week over the course of a month or two with saline fluid to a size that fits you. At a second operation, about 4 to 6 months after the first, the tissue expander is removed and replaced with a breast implant which is much softer and more natural looking. Some women also want to have a reconstructed nipple. The nipple reconstruction can usually be performed in the office or some people prefer to go to a tattoo artist for a 3-D nipple tattoo.

2. Your Own Tissue Reconstruction with or without implant

This can be done with either your abdominal tissue and muscles or your back tissue and muscles. A TRAM flap, is sometimes mistakenly considered a tummy tuck. The TRAM flap incision is usually higher on the abdomen than a tummy tuck incision and the muscles are taken leaving a possibly more lax abdomen or slight bulge on doing sit ups.  The latissimus flap is taken with some skin from your back and moved to help create a breast. Usually a tissue expander or implant is also needed with the latissimus if a larger breast is to be reconstructed.


You will stay 1 night in the hospital on the first surgery for implants. If you are using your own tissue such as TRAM or latissimus then a 3-5 night stay may be required. You will be encouraged to walk around (with assistance) after surgery. Prescription pain and muscle relaxation medication is available to make your recovery as comfortable as possible. Sutures are typically trimmed or removed after about a week and most post-surgical swelling should subside about 6 to 8 weeks after the procedure. Expansion for implants usually starts 2 weeks after surgery. 1-2 drains on each breast will likely be placed and at the donor site if needed. If a second surgery is needed for implants, you usually go home the same day and recovery is much easier.

Your healing process will depend on which reconstruction is being performed and many other factors. Our surgeons will be seeing you almost every week throughout the process and guiding you every step of the way

Call 336-765-8620 to request a consultation today and receive a personalized plan with one of our surgeons.

Click here to see more information about breast reconstruction.

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