What is Breast Reconstruction?

What is breast reconstruction?

For women who suffer from breast cancer, a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or other type of surgery may be needed. While this can be life-saving surgery, it can also leave many women with lowered self-esteem due to the change in the appearance of the breasts. In other cases, women who suffer from congenital deformities may have irregularly shaped and sized breasts that bring them unhappiness with their appearance. Breast reconstruction is a type of surgery that is designed to return one (or both) breasts to an almost natural shape, size, and overall appearance when the breasts are removed due to either cancer surgery or congenital deformity. Breast reconstruction is actually a series of procedures and is done in stages. It may be started immediately after a mastectomy or lumpectomy or can be started later. A breast reconstruction is a specialized procedure that can offer hope to women who are feeling demoralized and depressed about their health and appearance. Many women who opt for this type of surgery say that the self-esteem benefits far outweigh the short term discomfort associated with the breast reconstruction.

Stages of Breast Reconstruction

The first stage of breast reconstruction can be started as soon as a mastectomy is complete or may be started several months afterward. In this stage of the procedure, breast implant shells are usually placed in the chest. While rare, fat transfer is also an option for breast rebuilding in some cases. The most common method for breast reconstruction is the tissue expander technique. In this technique, a silicone shell — a tissue expander — is inserted in the area between the chest muscle and the lower layer of skin.

Dr. Rau will then gradually expand the tissue by adding small amounts of saline over time. This allows for the gradual stretching of the skin, which will then eventually allow for the placement of a permanent silicone or saline implant. The whole process takes up to several months. The nipple reconstruction part of the procedure may be performed separately, and the technique used depends on whether a nipple sparing mastectomy or a total mastectomy was performed. Regardless of the type of mastectomy that was done, Dr. Rau does his very best to give patients a breast reconstruction that will make them improve their appearance.

After a Breast Reconstruction

A breast reconstruction is a much more complex procedure than the standard breast augmentation surgery, so it’s important that patients allow themselves the recovery and rest time needed to get the best results.

Focused care of surgical drains and attention to the healing wounds is an important part of the process. Dr. Rau will be checking on you in his office quite frequently during this initial post-op period.


Most patients recover from breast reconstruction surgery quite well. You can use either over the counter pain medication like Tylenol or medication prescribed by Dr. Rau if you experience pain for the first few days after your new implants are placed. Soreness after breast reconstruction isn’t uncommon, but it will gradually lessen until the implants feel like a natural part of your body.

Need to Know More About Breast Reconstruction?

If you had, or if you are planning to have, breast cancer surgery or suffer from a congenital breast deformity, breast reconstruction surgery may be the solution that you need to feel like yourself again at last. Dr. Rau and the Rau Plastic Surgery team are dedicated to helping patients with compassion and understanding. Contact the Rau Plastic Surgery office anytime to arrange a consultation for a breast reconstruction.