Breast Cancer Reconstruction Options

A woman evaluating her breast cancer reconstruction options with a plastic surgeon

Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating. The whole world feels like it has stopped, yet the decisions you need to make for your treatment and recovery continue. While many of the choices will be out of your hands, you can take back some autonomy by considering your life after treatment and discussing your breast cancer reconstruction options with an expert plastic surgeon early on. Planning for a life after cancer can provide you with hope for the future and a sense of control over how your breasts will look for this new chapter in your life.

Breast Cancer Surgical Options

Depending on your unique diagnosis, prognosis, and risk factors, there are different options for surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. These options will be discussed with your oncologist and breast surgeon at the beginning of your treatment regimen, but bringing a plastic surgeon into the conversation early can help you get the best outcomes in terms of both your health and the aesthetics of your breasts after treatment.

Different types of mastectomies are available depending on how much tissue needs to be removed for your health and well-being.

Breast Cancer Surgeries

Oncoplastic Reduction

A lumpectomy is where a breast surgeon and plastic surgeon work together using breast reduction surgical techniques to remove cancerous tissue from the breast while leaving as much tissue behind as is possible for your health, reshaping the breast to limit deformity and asymmetry.


A mastectomy option where, if possible, due to your diagnosis, the nipple is left intact to allow for better aesthetics with reconstruction and more sensation after surgery.


Also called a “total mastectomy,” this procedure removes all breast tissue, including the fat, ducts, glands, nipple, and areola, but preserves as much of the overlying skin as possible.

Double Mastectomy

If the cancer has spread or was found in both breasts, then tissue from both breasts will need to be removed using one of the techniques listed above.

Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy

If your breast cancer is limited to only one breast, some women choose to remove the opposite healthy breast as well to prevent recurrence and get better symmetry in their reconstruction.

Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy 

For women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer due to family history or genetic mutations, removing both breasts before a cancer diagnosis can provide peace of mind and control over the future. 

After your surgery to remove cancerous tissue, you can work with your team of health professionals to determine when is the best time to undergo your reconstruction surgery.

Breast Cancer Reconstruction Options

Most breast reconstructions fall into one of two categories: autologous tissue transfer (flap surgery) or implants, each having its pros and cons. Both routes have several subcategories of surgery to find the best option for your anatomy and desired reconstruction outcomes. You can decide with your plastic surgeon which will be your best choice.

Breast Reconstruction Techniques

Autologous Flap


Skin, tissue, and muscle (in some cases) are taken from one area of the patient’s body and transferred to the chest to create a new breast mound.

The breast mound is recreated from implants placed within the mastectomy site. Most often above the chest wall muscles under the skin, but occasionally partially below the muscle.

Flap Surgeries: 

  • DIEP: Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator – Soft tissue from the lower abdomen.

  • SIEA: Superficial Inferior Epigastric Artery – Soft tissue from the lower abdominal area.

  • TRAM: Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous – Soft tissue and muscle are taken from below the belly button. 

  • Latissimus: Latissimus dorsi muscle and overlying tissue from the back. 

  • GAP: Gluteal Artery Perforator muscle and overlying tissue from the inner thigh. 

Implant Surgeries: 

  • Saline: Silicone shell filled with sterile saline (not standard). 

  • Silicone Gel: Silicone shell filled with a silicone gel.

  • Tissue Expanders: Temporary empty silicone implant shells filled with saline over time to expand the overlying skin. 

  • Prepectoral: The implant is placed on top of the pectoralis muscle.

  • Subpectoral: The breast implant is placed partially under the pectoralis muscle.

  • Autologous Fat Grafting: Adjunct treatment uses fat from one part of the body for a better peripheral contour.  

After recreating the breast mound, you can decide to do nipple and/or areola reconstructions to finalize the look of your new breasts.

You can also opt for an aesthetic flat closure with your plastic surgeon to give you the most comfortable and attractive chest without recreating new breasts.

See How Harris Plastic Surgery Can Help You

Consulting with an expert plastic surgeon early in your breast cancer treatment planning can give you back some of the autonomy you feel like you have lost after a cancer diagnosis. Deciding on your breast cancer reconstruction options early in your treatment planning can provide a sense of hope for the future, and an excellent plastic surgeon can make those dreams a reality.

Coordinating with a plastic surgeon early during your breast cancer treatment planning allows you:

Better Aesthetic OutcomesSeamless Care Coordination
Psychological BenefitsInsurance Coverage Assistance

Choose Harris Plastic Surgery for your Breast Cancer Reconstruction Options

At Harris Plastic Surgery, we believe every patient is unique and deserves a reconstruction personalized treatment plan. Having a breast cancer diagnosis is scary enough; let us take some of the worry off you by partnering to decide which breast cancer reconstruction options will be the best fit for your life.

Contact Harris Plastic Surgery if you are ready to start your breast reconstruction or would like more information about a personalized breast reconstruction plan.

Stephen U. Harris, MD FACS

Dr. Stephen U. Harris is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon and recognized expert in breast reduction and reconstruction surgeries, having performed thousands in his career. When it comes to patient care, his philosophy is that every surgery should improve his patient’s overall quality of life, not just their appearance. Dr. Harris stays up-to-date on all the latest advancements in breast augmentation, reconstruction, and reduction and is a recognized innovator in the field. In fact, he was the first surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital to offer primary prepectoral implant breast reconstruction, as well as secondary prepectoral revision surgery.

Dr. Harris also serves as Chief of Plastic Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York and is an active staff surgeon (and former Chief of Plastic Surgery) at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York.

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