There are two main types of breast reconstruction: inserting implants under the skin and muscle on the chest; and using skin, fatty tissue and sometimes muscles from another part of the body to rebuild breasts (called tissue flap procedures).
The different types of breast reconstruction are:
- Breast implant: an artificial implant that is inserted under the skin and muscle on the chest to form a breast shape.
- Latissimus dorsi (LD) flap: a flap of muscle, skin and fat that is moved from the back to the chest. Usually a breast implant is also inserted to achieve the required breast size.
- Transverse rectus abdominus myocutaneous (TRAM) flap: a flap of skin, fatty tissue and muscle that is moved from the abdomen (stomach) to the chest.
- Deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap: A flap of skin and fatty tissue that is moved from the abdomen (stomach) to the chest.
- Other tissue flaps: a flap of skin, fatty tissue and sometimes muscle that is taken from another body part, such as the buttocks or hips.
It is important to weigh up the benefits (how the reconstructed breast(s) may look and feel after surgery) with the possible downsides (demands of surgery and the effect of surgery on the woman’s body, time and finances).
Every woman’s breast reconstruction result is different. A pleasing result for one woman might not be a pleasing result for another. Breast refinement procedures may be undertaken following breast reconstruction to enhance the aesthetic outcome (overall appearance and symmetry) of the reconstructed breast(s).
It is important to note that not all types of breast reconstruction procedures will be offered by all surgeons or available at all health care facilities (particularly some of the tissue flap breast reconstruction options).