In some patients, breast implants can be placed at the time of mastectomy. This is usually limited to patients of normal weight who have undergone a mastectomy for early stage breast cancer or to prevent the development of cancer (prophylactic mastectomy). The breast surgeon and plastic surgeon work together to optimize the amount of skin that can be retained along with the nipple and areola in many cases.
Implants placed during immediate implant reconstruction are the same as those used in other forms of cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery. They can be silicone or saline. They can be textured or smooth. They often are referred to as permanent implants, but in reality they last an average of 10 to 15 years. Usually a special biologic material called an acellular dermal matrix is placed along with the implant as a supportive hammock to improve the long-term shape of the reconstruction.
This procedure is performed under general anesthesia and requires 60 minutes to complete one breast and about 90 minutes for both breasts. Patients are hospitalized for one or two days and can return to work in two to four weeks.
Common side effects include bruising, swelling and initial irregularities in breast appearance. Delayed wound healing and infections may occur.