Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)

Breast reconstruction using an implant

There are two main types of breast reconstruction' reconstruction using a breast implant and reconstruction using a woman’s own tissue. The aim of reconstructive surgery is to replace breast tissue lost during mastectomy or lumpectomy, restoring the breast shape. Doctors try to match as closely as possible the remaining natural breast by creating a breast ‘form’ with an implant which is placed beneath the skin and muscle that covers the chest, or by using muscle from another part of the body. A combination of these techniques is used in some women. Nipple reconstruction is also possible, usually as a separate operation once the reconstructed breast has settled into its final shape. Breast reconstruction can be done at the same time as the breast surgery, though is sometimes done some months or even years after the original operation. More medical information about breast reconstruction using an implant can be found on the Macmillan Cancer Support website. 
 
A few of the women we interviewed had breast reconstruction using an implant. One of these women said she did a lot of research and discussed the different kinds of reconstruction with the breast care nurse before opting for an implant that would be gradually pumped up to size over time. She had reconstructive surgery at the same time as a mastectomy and was able to keep her nipple. Another said that she wished she’d had more information about the different kinds of reconstructive surgery and advised other women to find out as much as possible before making a decision. She had immediate reconstruction including removal of the nipple and insertion of a pre-filled implant. She had an infection in her reconstructed breast shortly after surgery but said she was now getting used to her new breast. She was also planning to have more surgery, including nipple reconstruction.
Several women said that, at a later date, they had the healthy breast lifted so that it would match the reconstructed one, known as a mastopexy. One woman, though, said she chose not to because she was happy with how she looked and didn’t want any more surgery.
One younger woman with DCIS said she’d had an implant for nine years and it had boosted her confidence. She recently had a fall, though, which had affected the shape of her reconstructed breast and was thinking about whether to have the implant replaced.
More experiences of breast reconstruction can be found on the Healthtalkonline Breast Cancer site.
 
Last reviewed October 2013.
Last updated November 2011.

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