Breast reconstruction

National guidelines from NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) states that every woman who has a mastectomy should be offered a consultation for breast reconstruction.

The QVH plastic surgery team specialise in breast reconstructive surgery and offer the “gold standard” autologous (own tissue) free flap reconstruction. This involves taking skin, fat and sometimes muscle, from one part of the body, and reattaching it to the chest. Microsurgery is used to re-connect the blood supply.

Reconstruction can be done at the same time as the mastectomy if clinically appropriate (immediate), or at a second stage (delayed) after breast cancer treatment has been completed. It can also take place at the same time as mastectomies for risk-reducing surgery due to a strong family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation, which greatly increases a woman’s chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer (e.g. BRCA / TP53 / PALB2 / CHEK2).

There are various types of breast reconstruction surgery available. Your breast / oncoplastic breast surgeon or plastic reconstructive surgeon will outline your choices. The options could include:

  • Implant-based reconstructions such as an implant only or implant with the back muscle (LD, or Latissimus Dorsi) flap
  • Your own tissue (autologous) such as the abdomen (DIEP/MS-TRAM/SIEA), inner thigh (TUG/LUG/DUG) or buttock (SGAP/IGAP) flaps.

The breast reconstruction photographs on this website page aim to help you consider the options. They should be viewed in conjunction with the advice given by your surgeon, who will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each type of procedure. Please note not all options will be available to each person so when considering your options do bear in mind your body shape, amount of tissue available, your lifestyle and your wishes. Some procedures are also not offered at QVH.

Some patients may choose to have a procedure on the opposite breast – such as a mastopexy (uplift) or reduction – to improve symmetry. If desired, nipple reconstruction is the last procedure to be done before micropigmentation (tattooing). Please discuss your thoughts with the team.

The QVH breast reconstruction team are very grateful to the patients who have given permission for their clinical photographs to be used to help inform other women.

Find out more about breast surgery at QVH here.

Photos of breast reconstruction journeys

Warning: the links below show photographic results of surgery including wounds.

Delayed DIEP flap (unilateral)

Immediate DIEP flap (unilateral)

Delayed DIEP flaps (bilateral)

Immediate TUG flap (unilateral)

Delayed TUG flap (unilateral)

Immediate LUG flaps (bilateral risk-reducing mastectomies)

Delayed immediate DIEP and TUG flaps (bilateral differential reconstructions)

Immediate 4 flaps DIEPs and LUGs (bilateral risk-reducing mastectomies)

Delayed SGAP flap (unilateral)

Immediate implants (bilateral risk-reducing mastectomies)

Immediate expanders (bilateral)