About breast reconstruction surgery
You may need reconstruction in one or both breasts after cancer surgeries such as a:
- Lumpectomy, which removes cancerous tissue and a small section of nearby healthy tissue
- Mastectomy, which removes the entire breast
Breast reconstruction uses a variety of surgical techniques to construct new breasts. Plastic and reconstructive surgeons with expertise in breast procedures perform these surgeries.
How to talk to your doctor about breast reconstruction surgery
Pursuing breast reconstruction surgery is a personal choice. Our experts meet with you before cancer surgery to discuss your options. We give you all the information you need to make the decision that’s right for you.
You’ll receive personalized recommendations that reflect your:
- Cancer treatment plan, including how much breast tissue may remain after surgery
- Body type and preferences
- Health history, including prior surgeries or other medical conditions
You are welcome to bring a trusted friend or family member with you to care appointments. This person can help you remember everything we discuss, so it’s a little easier to make decisions.
Insurance often covers breast reconstruction for the breast affected by cancer and the healthy breast. We explain how your plan covers the procedure and whether there will be out-of-pocket expenses.
Breast reconstruction surgery: What to expect
Many women have breast reconstruction during the same procedure as their cancer surgery. First, breast surgeons remove cancer. Then our plastic and reconstructive surgeons create new breasts.
Whether you have breast reconstruction separately or along with cancer surgery, reconstruction is major surgery. It often requires weeks of recovery. We work to minimize discomfort and keep your care moving forward with our enhanced recovery program. After surgery, our team stays in regular contact with you so we can detect potential complications early. Learn more about oncologic breast cancer surgery.
Why choose us for breast reconstruction?
Highlights of our program include:
- Expertise: Our team includes highly skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeons who specialize in breast reconstruction. We deliver precise care that optimizes cosmetic outcomes to help you regain an appearance you feel comfortable with.
- Coordination: Our reconstruction experts are an extension of the cancer team you already know and trust. We all work together, starting in the early stages of your care, so you receive timely services that meet your needs. Get more information about our breast cancer program.
- Leading-edge care: Our doctors are faculty members at UT Health San Antonio. This academic focus means they participate in research that’s advancing breast reconstruction procedures and outcomes. Get more information about cancer clinical trials and research.
Breast reconstruction services
We offer a broad range of services, including:
Breast reconstruction surgery
Types of breast reconstruction surgery we offer include:
- Skin expansion and implant: A short procedure implants a balloon-like device into the breast area. Gradually filling the balloon with a saltwater solution expands the skin, creating space for a breast implant. These procedures can be performed during the same surgery as your mastectomy or at a later time. During a second procedure, we remove the tissue expander and replace it with a breast implant.
- Direct-to-implant: Some patients are eligible for breast implants at the time of mastectomy.
- Flap reconstruction: We create a new breast using a flap of skin, fat and muscle from another part of your body. Our surgeons offer newer techniques, such as deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap reconstruction. Because this option does not use muscle tissue, most women have a quicker, more comfortable recovery.
Areola and nipple reconstruction
After healing from breast reconstruction surgery, you may opt for additional procedures to re-create the:
- Nipple: The nipple is the small raised section in the center of the breast, which provides a natural look. Surgeons make a curved incision, lift a section of tissue and secure it in place.
- Areola: The darker area surrounding the nipple is the areola. You can choose to have a new areola formed through surgery or a tattoo.
- 3D tattooing: We offer sophisticated 3D tattoos that give the look of a nipple and areola without surgery.
Breast reconstruction revision surgery
Our surgeons can correct problems that sometimes occur after breast reconstruction surgery.
You may need revision surgery if you experience:
- Scar tissue that causes lumps or dense breast tissue
- Uneven breasts