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Breast Reconstruction

If you have a mastectomy, you can also choose to have breast reconstruction surgery. This surgery is done by a reconstructive plastic surgeon and gives you a new breast-like shape and nipple. Your surgeon can also add a tattoo that looks like the areola (the dark area around your nipple). Or you may not want any more surgery and prefer to wear a prosthesis (breast-like form) in your bra. There are two types of breast reconstruction surgery:

  • Breast implants. In this kind of surgery, a reconstructive plastic surgeon puts an implant (filled with salt water or silicone gel) under your skin or chest muscle to build a new breast-like shape. While this shape looks like a breast, you will have little feeling in it because the nerves have been cut.

    Breast implants do not last a lifetime. If you choose to have an implant, chances are you will need more surgery later on to remove or replace it. Implants can cause problems such as breast hardness, breast pain, and infection. The implant may also break, move, or shift. These problems can happen soon after surgery or years later.


  • Tissue flaps. In tissue-flap surgery, a surgeon builds a new breast-like shape from muscle, fat, and skin taken from other parts of your body. This new breast-like shape should last the rest of your life.Women who are very thin or obese, smoke, or have other serious health problems often cannot have tissue flap surgery. Tissue flap is major surgery. Healing often takes longer after this surgery than if you have breast implants. You may have other problems, as well. For example, you might lose strength in the part of your body where muscle was taken to build a new breast. Or you may get an infection or have trouble healing. Tissue flap surgery is best done by a reconstructive plastic surgeon who has done it many times before.

Aetna Members: If you would like more information about breast cancer and breast cancer prevention, please call (888) 322 8742.

Miembros de Aetna: Si desean mayor información sobre el cáncer de seno y sobre su prevención por favor llame al (888) 322 8742.

Last updated April 7, 2010




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