Breast Reconstruction After Cancer

Posted on: 4 October 2017

When a woman finds out she indeed has breast cancer, she is naturally worried and overwhelmed. There's no doubt about it, this will be a life-changing event. Information overload can occur as your health care treatment team discusses all the options available to you. In women who require a mastectomy, there are even more decisions to make when it comes time for breast reconstruction. While not every woman opts to have reconstructive surgery, many do, especially younger women. Here is what you need to know about both saline and silicone implants.

Which Implants Are Used Most Often?

More women opt for saline implants. Saline is essentially salt water. However, both saline and silicone implants use an outer shell made of silicone. While silicone breast implants had an initial "learning curve," the fifth generation of implants have proven to be quite safe compared to the initial silicone offering.

Which Implant Feels More Natural?

The general consensus is that the breast prosthesis filled with silicone gel feels more natural and closer to real breast tissue than saline solution-filled ones do. There are also silicone implants that are referred to as "gummy implants." This is because they are similar in consistency to the gummy bear confections, with a firmer feel than silicone gel. This tends to give the breast a more natural look and lessens any wrinkling of the skin with movement. A saline implant is not as soft as a silicone implant.

Which Implant Is Easier To Place?

While the procedure is essentially the same for each type of prosthesis, the end result is a bit different. A saline implant isn't filled until after it is placed. This means your reconstructive surgeons can use a smaller incision. A silicone implant is already filled before insertion, which naturally means a larger incision and consequently a larger scar will be required. However, depending on the breast shape, size, and the residual tissue left from the mastectomy, the scarring may be minimized and placed primarily under the breast. Keep in mind these factors may also dictate which type of implant is used.

What Happens If An Implant Is Ruptured?

In the case of a saline solution implant, the breast instantly deflates. The body reabsorbs the salt water, A silicone implant may not be so obvious, therefore a periodic MRI is recommended to ensure it is intact. Silicone is not absorbed by the body, so it stays in the general vicinity. In either case, surgery will be required to replace the implant.