Implant vs Natural Tissue Reconstruction

All breast reconstruction procedures fall into one of two broad categories:

The surgeons of the Advanced Reconstructive Surgery Group specialize breast reconstruction surgery.

Some of the key differences between natural-tissue breast reconstruction using perforator flaps such as the DIEP flap and implant breast reconstruction are summarized in the table below.

IMPLANTS FLAPS
Material Used Uses silicone or saline-filled implant Uses a person’s own natural tissue
Long-term results Implants generally don’t last forever—most women have an implant replaced one or more times during their lifetime Flaps are permanent and never need to be replaced
Failure rate FDA data shows that about 30% of implants are removed within 10 years Our practice performs DIEP flaps with a success rate of at least 99.5%
Breast consistency Breasts reconstructed with implants typically feel firmer and cooler to the touch than normal body temperature Breasts reconstructed with natural tissue are soft and warm much like a natural breast
Breast sensation Minimal to no return of sensation To a variable degree, sensation frequently returns
Surgery time Mastectomy with implant reconstruction typically takes about 2-3 hours Mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction typically takes 3.5-5.5 hours
Hospital stay Typical hospital stay is 1 night Typical hospital stay is 2-3 nights
Number of procedures Two procedures are usually needed to complete the reconstruction, though sometimes it can be done in with just a single procedure Two procedures are usually needed to complete breast reconstruction using a woman’s own natural tissue
Recovery highlights Most women can drive within 2 weeks of surgery and resume light exercise at 4-6 weeks Most women can drive within 2-3 weeks of surgery and resume light exercise at 4-6 weeks


Material Used

Implants

Uses silicone or saline-filled implant

Flaps

Uses a person’s own natural tissue

Long-term results

Implants

Implants generally don’t last forever—most women have an implant replaced one or more times during their lifetime

Flaps

Flaps are permanent and never need to be replaced

Failure rate

Implants

FDA data shows that about 30% of implants are removed within 10 years

Flaps

Our practice performs DIEP flaps with a success rate of at least 99.5%

Breast consistency

Implants

Breasts reconstructed with implants typically feel firmer and cooler to the touch than normal body temperature

Flaps

Breasts reconstructed with natural tissue are soft and warm much like a natural breast

Breast sensation

Implants

Minimal to no return of sensation

Flaps

To a variable degree, sensation frequently returns

Surgery time

Implants

Mastectomy with implant reconstruction typically takes about 2-3 hours

Flaps

Mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction typically takes 3.5-5.5 hours

Hospital stay

Implants

Typical hospital stay is 1 night

Flaps

Typical hospital stay is 2-3 nights

Number of procedures

Implants

Two procedures are usually needed to complete the reconstruction, though sometimes it can be done in with just a single procedure

Flaps

Two procedures are usually needed to complete breast reconstruction using a woman’s own natural tissue

Recovery highlights

Implants

Most women can drive within 2 weeks of surgery and resume light exercise at 4-6 weeks

Flaps

Most women can drive within 2-3 weeks of surgery and resume light exercise at 4-6 weeks

Many women prefer the look and feel of natural-tissue breast reconstruction to implant breast reconstruction. In the hands of experienced surgeons like the ones on our team, natural-tissue reconstruction is performed with a degree of safety on par with that of breast implant reconstruction and with a flap success rate of about 99.5%. The main downside to a natural- tissue reconstruction is the need for a scar somewhere else on the body, at the site from which tissue is obtained. In the long term, natural tissue breast reconstruction provides life-long results associated with significantly fewer re-operations and failures than is the case with implant breast reconstruction. Nonetheless, for some women, breast implant reconstruction is the preferred approach.

Regardless of which method of reconstruction you prefer, we are here to help. With our team, you will be cared for by some of the most highly skilled and dedicated surgeons in the world. We have extensive experience with all methods of breast reconstruction and offer the full spectrum of breast reconstructive surgery to our patients.

Contact us to schedule an appointment or to learn more about which option may be right for you.

Learn more about the most sophisticated methods of natural tissue breast reconstruction

Learn more about breast reconstruction with breast implants

PLEASE ENTER YOUR PORTAL LOGIN


CANCEL