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Breast Reconstruction – After Mastectomy


Patients who have undergone a mastectomy often suffer from confidence issues and are typically uncomfortable with their appearance. The decision to undergo breast reconstruction surgery is a very brave and personal decision that Dr. Marguerite Bernett is honored to help her patients in Los Angeles, Irvine, and beyond make with confidence. Breast reconstruction surgery is a series of procedures that renew or restore the appearance of the breast(s). Reconstruction and cosmetic surgery specialist, Dr. Bernett will work closely with you to outline the procedure and educate you on the many breast reconstruction surgery options and also the risks and rewards of this surgery.


Breast reconstruction surgery is performed on breasts that have either been removed due to breast cancer (mastectomy), or have been injured as the result of a traumatic event. In addition, some women are born with birth defects that can lead to obvious flaws within the breasts, including tubular breasts or breasts that are significantly misshapen. Breast reconstruction surgery restores the look and feel of the breasts for a natural appearance.


Breast reconstruction can be accomplished by:

  • The creation of an autologous tissue flap, which is created using the patient’s own skin and tissue
  • The insertion of a tissue expander under the skin to help make room for a breast implant (silicone or saline)
  • A combination of the two

A tissue flap involves moving a section of skin, fat, and muscle from one area of the body to another. The section of tissue may be taken from areas such as the abdomen or upper back. Tissue moved from the abdomen usually does not require an implant aid in breast shape while tissue moved from the upper back usually requires an implant. The tissue expander is a balloon-like implant device that is inserted, unfilled with sterile saline, at the time of surgery. Over time during office visits, sterile saline fluid is added and the tissues over the expander begin to stretch, similar to the gradual expansion of a woman’s abdomen during pregnancy. The tissue expander creates a new breast-shaped pocket for a breast implant. Tissue expansion typically takes 3 to 6 months. After the expansion period is concluded, the tissue expander is removed and a silicone or saline implant is placed.


During the reconstruction process, nipple reconstruction is usually performed as a separate procedure after the initial reconstruction surgery is complete. There are several options to consider; nipple tattooing is a popular option today that looks real and natural. In addition, whether or not breast implants are used, patients will probably undergo additional surgeries to improve symmetry and appearance. If only one breast is involved and reconstructed, then in a breast lift, breast reduction or breast augmentation may be recommended for the opposite breast. This will improve symmetry of the size and position of both breasts.
It is important to remember that visible incision lines will always be present on the breast, whether from reconstruction or mastectomy.


The cost for breast reconstruction surgery varies depending on the extent of injury and restoration. While most cosmetic procedures are not covered by insurance, breast reconstruction as part of cancer treatment is usually covered. Our billing and insurance coordinator will work to define the costs and confirm benefits that may apply.


Breast reconstruction surgery, for many women, is a final step in treatment. It can significantly improve a woman’s breast appearance, as well as her confidence and self-esteem. A diagnosis of breast cancer, or a traumatic event, does not mean that a woman will never have beautiful breasts again. If you are a candidate for breast reconstruction surgery, we encourage you to call our plastic surgery office to learn what your options are. Our surgeon maintains a high standard of compassion for each individual patient with years of experience in the reconstruction process.

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