Tissue Expander and Implant-Based Reconstruction

Dr. Fusi F.A.C.S. M.B.A. has twenty years of breast reconstruction experience and currently serves as a clinical faculty member of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Craig is a board certified plastic surgeon who has obtained years of plastic surgery and reconstructive training at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Yale, integrating the newest reconstructive techniques with her multi-disciplinary approach to breast cancer patients.

Dr. Fusi and Dr. Craig’s practice integrates the latest advancements in implant-based reconstruction for improved aesthetic results.

What is Tissue Expander and Implant-Based Reconstruction?

Tissue expander and implant-based reconstruction is a method of breast reconstruction that employs placing temporary breast implants (called tissue expanders) to restore the volume, shape, and profile of your natural breasts at the time of your mastectomy. This tissue expander is subsequently inflated post-operatively and ultimately exchanged for a permanent implant at a time that does not interfere with your cancer treatment. While many Connecticut women do decide to undergo tissue expander and implant-based reconstruction, the procedure is not recommended for all patients because of the increased risks associated with factors such as:

  • Obesity.
  • Radiation treatment.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Previous surgical treatment.

Dr. Fusi and Dr. Craig will elaborate on the benefits and risks associated with this procedure during your consultation.

Should I Choose Tissue Expander and Implant-Based Reconstruction?

Tissue expander and implant-based reconstruction can have low risks when patients are carefully screened. During a consultation, Dr. Fusi and Dr. Craig will help you evaluate different techniques to arrive at the results that make you the most comfortable and confident with your body. Both Dr. Fusi and Dr. Craig will guide you through treatment by:

  • Developing a plan for tissue expander and implant-based reconstruction that works with the type of mastectomy performed by your breast surgeon.
  • Advising on whether immediate implants or a two-stage reconstruction will be more effective.
  • Timing surgical procedures with your cancer treatment.

Before deciding on a type of breast reconstruction procedure, you should consult your breast surgeon and a plastic surgeon about the options that are best for you.

Direct to Implants vs. Two-Staged Reconstruction

Implant-based reconstruction can involve placing the implants immediately after your breast surgeon has removed your breast cancer (direct to implant) or a procedure with two or more stages (two-staged reconstruction). Dr. Fusi and Dr. Craig will base their recommendations on the type of mastectomy your breast surgeon performs and evaluate your breast anatomy during surgery.

  • Direct to implant (immediate implant): An immediate implant is best for women who want to keep the same breast size or reduce the size of their breasts, and do not need radiation therapy. Although an immediate implant can limit the number of procedures, many Connecticut patients will require breast revision surgery to arrive at their ideal results.
  • Two-stage: Your initial surgery will insert a tissue expander into the breast pocket to maintain or expand the size of the breast pocket at the time of your mastectomy. This prepares the area for an implant by gradually filling a tissue expander until the desired size is reached. The second procedure will place the permanent breast implant, and additional revisions may be required for the best aesthetic result.

Dr. Fusi and Dr. Craig will provide insightful information regarding the timing for your implant based breast reconstruction. Based on the size of your breasts and desired results you will work with them to choose the best option.

Possible Complications

Connecticut patients who fall into the obese weight range have much higher rates of complications than average patients. For obese patients, Dr. Fusi and Dr. Craig recommend either oncoplastic reduction or free flap surgery to reduce the risks associated with implant-based reconstruction. Patients who have been properly screened for implant-based reconstruction have a relatively low rate of complication such as:

  • Delayed healing.
  • Infection.
  • Implant rupture or leakage over time.

The incidence of these complications is further reduced by choosing a plastic surgeon who has the experience and qualifications needed to perform this surgery successfully.

What Qualifications Should My Plastic Surgeon Have?

The plastic surgeon that performs your implant-based reconstruction will work with your breast cancer surgeon and consult with them throughout surgery. These medical professionals will form a surgical team that works together to completely remove the breast cancer and restore the appearance of your breasts. To get the best possible care, check that your plastic surgeon has:

  • Specialization in breast reconstruction.
  • Excellent training.
  • Knowledge of cancer treatment and its effects on different options for breast reconstruction.

Dr. Fusi has twenty years of breast reconstruction expertise and is Yale-trained, while Dr. Craig obtained years of breast reconstructive experience at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the nation’s leading cancer center. Their experience, knowledge, and exceptional patient care combine to provide patients with superior treatment options for breast reconstruction.

For more information about implant-based reconstruction, call our Connecticut office at 203-458-4444, or our Houston office at 713-346-9909.