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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
SJR: 0.332 SNIP: 0.491 CiteScore™: 0.89

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v15.i2.70
pages 197-208

Advances in Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy

Richard Edlich
Legacy Verified Level I Shock Trauma Center Pediatrics and Adults, Legacy Emanual Hospital; and Plastic Surgery, Biomedical Engineering and Emergency Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, USA
Kathryne L. Winters
Website Manager and Information Specialist, Trauma Specialists, LLP, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, Portland, Oregon, 1917 NE 97th St. Vancouver WA 98665, USA
Brent C. Faulkner
Plastic Surgical Resident, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Timothy J. Bill
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and Hand Surgeon, Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA
Kant Y. Lin
Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA


Over the past 40 years, surgical reconstruction of the breast following mastectomy has become an important aspect of the cancer patient's rehabilitation process. While the surgical emphasis remains on a cure for the cancer, experience with breast reconstruction has not demonstrated any increased rate of cancer recurrence, even when reconstruction is performed immediately following tumor resection. Advances in surgical technique and biotechnology have made post-mastectomy reconstruction possible. The development of silicone gel and saline-filled implants as well as tissue expanders has revolutionized breast reconstruction. The elucidation of musculocutaneous flaps now provides the surgeon with the ability to transfer adequate quantities of vascularized tissue to reconstruct the surgical defects. The advent of microsurgical techniques has provided an additional reconstructive option, with free tissue transfer allowing the plastic surgeon to move musculocutaneous flaps from remote or distant sites to reconstruct the defect. The option of having the reconstruction immediately following the mastectomy procedure is now available to the patient. When reviewing the anatomy of the breast region, the surgeon must consider the mammary gland, its vascular supply, and its lymphatic system. The surgical techniques involved in reconstruction after mastectomy include the use of breast implants and tissue expansion, as well as reconstruction with autogenous tissues. Reconstruction with autogenous tissues includes the use of latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flap, transverse rectus abdominus musculocutaneous flap, free flap transfer, as well as nipple-areola reconstruction. Breast reconstruction after mastectomy should be undertaken by a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with considerable training and experience with these diversified procedures.