Types of Breast Reconstruction

There are two main types of breast reconstruction performed at Virginia Mason:

  • Breast implants The breast mound is created with a saline or silicone-filled implant, after first performing tissue expansion for a several week period. The tissue expander is placed under the skin and chest muscle where it is gradually filled with saline through a tiny valve. The skin is comfortably stretched over time until it is large enough to accommodate the selected implant. In some cases, the opposite breast may be enlarged, lifted or reduced to better match the new breast. Learn more about breast implant reconstruction surgery.
  • Autologous tissue Autologous means the use of a patient's own tissue for reconstruction of the breast. Also called tissue flap surgery, a patient's skin, fat, tissue and sometimes muscle are used to reshape the breast. Most commonly tissue from the abdomen is used, though it can also be taken from the back, thigh or buttock. Flap procedures are more complicated than implant surgery, but can require fewer steps and may last longer than implants. Learn more about autologous tissue reconstruction surgery.

Both types of breast reconstruction have benefits and costs, and only you can decide which is right for you. Our surgeons can show you pictures of women who have had the procedures, and we will help you get in touch with other patients who can talk about their experience. For more information about the types of breast reconstruction, call our office at (206) 223-6778.

Below is helpful information you should consider before choosing a type of breast reconstruction surgery. 

Breast Implant Reconstructive Surgery

Why choose breast implant reconstructive surgery?

  • Breast implant surgery is shorter, less complex and has a quicker recovery time.
  • Less scarring results because tissue is not removed from another part of the body.

What should I be aware of with breast implant reconstructive surgery?

  • Sometimes more surgery is needed to remove scar tissue in the breast or replace an implant.
  • It may be difficult to achieve symmetry with an implant when restoring one breast. Implants work best for women who have smaller breasts or when both breasts are being restored.

Autologous Tissue Reconstructive Surgery

Why choose autologous tissue reconstructive surgery?

  • Once healed, autologous tissue reconstruction should last for life.
  • Because natural tissue is used to form the breast, it will have a more natural feel than an implant.

What should I be aware of with autologous tissue reconstructive surgery?

  • Tissue surgery is more complex which increases recovery time and the chance of certain complications.
  • Scarring occurs where the tissue is taken from your body. Rarely, abnormal scarring can occur.