Last month Angelina Jolie reported that she elected to have a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries earlier this year. Her decision was made after she found out that she carried a defective BRCA1 gene, which means she’s at a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
Jolie opted to have her surgeries done in multiple steps in order to get the most natural appearance. Her first surgery was done to save her nipples, before her total mastectomy.
During her second procedure, tissue expanders were put into place in order to make space for the breast implants. Once enough space was made with the tissue expanders, Jolie’s teardrop-shaped breast implants were put into place.
While Angelina Jolie has brought attention to breast reconstruction, there are two main categories of reconstruction to explore with your plastic surgeon during your consultation.
Your Post-Mastectomy Breast Reconstruction Options
Featured above is an American Society of Plastic Surgeons video providing an overview of breast reconstructive surgery.
Breast reconstruction falls into two categories: reconstruction with implants or autologous reconstruction, which uses tissue from the individual to reconstruct the patient’s breasts.
The most common form of breast reconstruction uses implants and tissue expanders, like Angelina Jolie’s procedure.
The way this technique works is by filling the tissue expander with a saline solution to slowly make room for a breast implant. After enough room is created, a more permanent silicone or saline breast implant is inserted into the space.
Alternative options to the above technique are procedures that use the existing tissue of the patient. Skin, fat, or muscle can be taken to create a new breast, and because the reconstruction uses natural tissue the results are generally more natural.