Breast reconstruction techniques

Broadly speaking, there are three types of breast reconstruction techniques. The method that’s best for you will depend on a number of factors, including whether or not you want immediate results, the characteristics and staging of your cancer, and your own preference.


Using an implant to rebuild the breast requires the least amount of surgery of all the reconstruction techniques. Both the length of the surgery and your time of recovery are usually shorter.

Implant reconstruction

An implant filled with silicone gel, salt water (saline) or a combination of the two is placed under the skin and muscle that covers your chest to create a breast shape.

Implant surgery: what to except

Your plastic surgeon will either insert the implant directly, or place a tissue expander under your chest muscle in order to stretch the skin over time to make room for the final implant.

Risks of implant surgery

Many of the risks associated with implant surgery are the same as the risks for mastectomy. However, there are some risks that are unique to implant reconstruction


Breast reconstruction using your own tissue involves transferring a flap of skin, fat and sometimes muscle from another part of your body to your chest wall to create a breast shape.

TRAM flap reconstruction

This procedure uses a flap of fat, muscle and skin from your tummy area to create the shape of a breast, while also tightening and flattening the tummy area.

DIEP flap reconstruction

A DIEP flap is similar to a muscle-sparing free TRAM flap, except that no muscle is used to rebuild the breast. A DIEP flap is considered a muscle-sparing type of flap.

LD flap reconstruction

An oval flap of skin, fat, muscle, and blood vessels from your upper back are used to reconstruct the breast in a latissimus dorsi flap procedure. An LD flap is considered a muscle-transfer type of flap.


Combination surgery

This type of breast reconstruction requires the use of a smaller tissue expander/implant along with your own tissue because of the limited volume of your back tissue.

Fat grafting

Fat grafting involves taking fat from other parts of your body – usually your thighs, belly, and buttocks – by liposuction and injecting it into the breast area.

After lumpectomy

A lumpectomy is a type of breast-conserving surgery in which, rather than removing the entire breast, only the tumor, along with a margin of normal breast tissue around it, is removed.

Preventative mastectomy

Preventative mastectomy is surgical removal of the breasts in women who don’t have breast cancer, usually due to a strong family history of breast cancer and/or genetic testing.

Follow-up surgery

After the initial breast mound is created, subsequent surgeries work to refine the shape of the breast, improve symmetry, or restore normal breast characteristics such as the nipple and areola.