What Is Reconstructive Breast Augmentation?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
A doctor may use tissue from elsewhere in a woman's body to reconstruct a woman's breast.
A doctor may use tissue from elsewhere in a woman's body to reconstruct a woman's breast.

Reconstructive breast augmentation is a surgical procedure used to reconstruct a woman's breast. The surgery is often performed after the removal of breast tissue because of cancer. Doctors rebuild the breast using tissue from another part of the patient's body as well as implants to make the new breast look full and round. The reconstructive procedure can create a realistic-looking breast, which may help a woman who feels self-conscious when undressed after a mastectomy or worried about the way she will look in a shirt. The reconstructed breast does not feel like normal breast tissue, however, so women do not experience the same sensations they were used to with their own breasts.

When a woman has a breast removed, usually because of cancer, the procedure is called a mastectomy. This procedure can be life-saving, but it may leave some women feeling uncomfortable or even embarrassed by their own bodies. To help these women, doctors often perform a procedure referred to as reconstructive breast augmentation, which can be performed on a single breast or both breasts if a woman had a double mastectomy. Surgeons perform this surgery to make the new breast the same size and shape as the remaining breast or to replace both missing breasts. When both breasts are involved, doctors can reconstruct them to be larger, smaller, or more shapely at the patient's request.

The main benefits of reconstructive breast augmentation may be the improved appearance of the area from which the breast was removed and perhaps greater self-confidence for the woman. These procedures can return a woman to an appearance she thinks of as "normal" when naked and can help her look as expected when she is wearing a shirt. If a woman is hoping this surgery will restore the sensations she used to feel in her breasts, however, she may be disappointed. Reconstructive breast augmentation cannot return sensation to the area.

Reconstructive breast augmentation involves the use of tissue, including skin, muscle, and fat, from other parts of a woman's body. For example, a doctor may take tissue from a woman's buttocks to use in reconstructing the breast and then use implants filled with salt water to make the area full and breast-shaped. If a woman has a breast that was not removed during surgery, the doctor can make the new breast match it or perform surgery on the remaining breast to make it match a fuller or more shapely reconstructed breast. He can also add a nipple to the reconstructed breast as desired.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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    • A doctor may use tissue from elsewhere in a woman's body to reconstruct a woman's breast.
      A doctor may use tissue from elsewhere in a woman's body to reconstruct a woman's breast.