Breast reconstruction with implants
Using an implant to rebuild the breast requires the least amount of surgery all the reconstruction techniques. Both the length of the surgery and your time of recovery are usually shorter. Implants are a good option for thin women with small breasts because these women often don’t have enough extra tissue on their bellies, backs, thighs, or buttocks to form a good breast shape.
Implants are usually filled with silicone gel and come in teardrop or round shapes. The surface of the implant may be smooth or have a slightly rough texture, but you won’t feel this through your skin. Your plastic surgeon may prefer one type of implant over another for technical reasons. In some cases, implants with a slightly rough texture may help lower the risk of scar tissue forming around the implant.
The implant is placed under the pectoral chest muscle and doesn’t require using tissue from another part of your body, as with flap techniques. Your surgeon can perform the procedure either at the same time as your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), after mastectomy and other treatments (delayed reconstruction), or with a two-step approach that involves some reconstructive surgery at the same time as mastectomy and some after (delayed-immediate reconstruction).
Implants usually don’t last a lifetime, so you’ll probably need more surgery to replace an implant at some point. Silicone implants last between 10 and 20 years.
All implants have a slight risk of rupturing. If a silicone implant ruptures, the gel leaks out more slowly because it’s thicker, so it may take you longer to realize that the implant has ruptured. Silicone gel is not absorbed into the body, and the gel can sometimes leak into the pocket surrounding the implant and stay there, or it may spread further. In either case, surgery would be required to replace the implant.
If you’re concerned about the safety of silicone in your particular situation, talk to your surgeon.