Breast Reconstruction After a Mastectomy

A mastectomy is the removal of a breast for cancer. Undergoing a mastectomy can be

a difficult experience. The process on its own is emotionally straining, coupled with

concerns over self-image and confidence with one’s own body. Breast reconstruction,

available immediately after a mastectomy, can restore the breasts to their natural shape.


In the United States, your medical insurance is required to cover both your

mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Should you choose to undergo breast

reconstruction surgery either simultaneously with your mastectomy or at a later time,

be aware of your options to determine which work best with your condition and your


Understanding Your Mastectomy

There are varying types of mastectomies depending on your condition. Over the

years, mastectomies have become more and more precise, often allowing surgeons

to save more skin and in some cases the nipple to help patients feel even more confident with their

body. When possible, a skin-sparing mastectomy or nipple-sparing mastectomy

helps leave more natural skin available for immediate breast reconstruction surgery.

This often creates more realistic breasts. In other cases, a more aggressive surgery is needed,

including some underarm lymph nodes.

TRAM Reconstruction

TRAM, or transverse rectus abdominis muscle, uses your body’s own abdominal

tissue to create a more natural, lifelike breasts during a skin-sparing mastectomy.

Taking excess fat and muscle from below the navel, your surgeon is able to

reconstruct and shape symmetrical and natural breasts. The loss of abdominal tissue

is similar to a tummy tuck, which some women may see as a benefit.

This type of surgery will cause some scarring along the breast and below the navel.

A second operation is needed for any nipple reconstruction.

Breast Implantation

In cases where there is not enough natural tissue to reconstruct the breast, breast

implants are an option to achieve symmetrical, natural-looking breasts. MSA offers

two FDA-approved implants: saline and silicone. Deciding on the ideal breast implant

for you depends on your natural shape and skin elasticity and can be discussed

during your initial consultation with a surgeon.

Nipple Tattooing

If your circumstances prohibit a nipple from being reconstructed, a nipple tattoo can

be used to create a natural-looking breast. Two types of tattoo procedures are

available. In some cases, your surgeon can use excess tissue to construct a 3D

nipple which is then shaded to look like a natural nipple. When excess tissue is not

available, a nipple tattoo can be shaded to look three-dimensional.

No matter what choice you make, we want you to feel comfortable in your own skin.

Plastic surgeons at MSA are happy to go over your breast reconstruction options,

answer any questions and calm any concerns you may have. Schedule an initial

consultation to help find the right path for you.



Breast Reconstruction Options

Cleveland Clinic

Nipple Tattooing

Is reconstruction for you?