About 75% of women who have mastectomy to treat breast cancer go on to have one or both breasts reconstructed. While there are many ways to reconstruct a breast, saline or silicone gel implants are probably the most common choice. Implants come in teardrop or round shapes. One of these shapes may be a better match for the contour of your breast area.
A study has found that both round and teardrop-shaped silicone gel implants offer good results for breast reconstruction.
The study was published in the March 2013 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Read “Patient-Report Satisfaction and Health-Related Quality of Life Following Breast Reconstruction: A Comparison of Shaped Cohesive Gel and Round Cohesive Gel Implant Recipients.”
The researchers analyzed BREAST-Q questionnaire answers from:
- 65 women who had a breast reconstructed with a round silicone gel implant
- 63 women who had a breast reconstructed with a shaped silicone gel implant
The women filled out the questionnaire 1 to 4 years after reconstruction.
The BREAST-Q questionnaire was designed to measure women’s satisfaction and health-related quality of life after different types of breast surgery, including breast reconstruction. The questionnaire specifically asked about any inability to perform daily activities because of pain, how any such issues may be affecting quality of life, satisfaction with the implant results, and body image.
The researchers found that both types of implants had good overall outcomes. On a 100-point scale, average scores for overall reconstruction satisfaction were:
- 77 for women who had a shaped implant
- 75 for women who had a round implant
Average scores for breast satisfaction were about 64 for both groups of women.
Scores in other areas – including psychological and sexual well-being – were also similar for the two groups of women. Importantly, there was no difference in implant rippling between the two groups of women. Rippling (wrinkling) was an issue for the first types of shaped implants that were developed.
Only one factor had a different score between the two groups: women who had shaped implants rated their breasts as firmer than women who had round implants.
If you're having mastectomy to remove breast cancer and want to know more about reconstruction, it's important to talk to your surgeon about your options BEFORE the mastectomy is scheduled. You may want to have a breast reconstruction surgeon help you evaluate your options. The breast reconstruction surgeon may be a different person than the surgeon scheduled to perform the mastectomy.
You have many reconstruction choices, including the type of reconstruction and the timing of the reconstruction. The stage of the breast cancer affects the best time to do reconstruction. If you're considering implant reconstruction, you may want to ask your doctor about the pros and cons of silicone gel and saline implants.
If you're having lumpectomy instead of mastectomy to treat breast cancer, it's still a good idea to talk to you doctor BEFORE the surgery about how your breasts will look afterward. You also may want to ask about the reconstruction options available if you're not satisfied with the way your breasts look after lumpectomy. Having the most complete information can help you feel better about yourself and your health after surgery.
Visit the Breastcancer.org Breast Reconstruction pages to learn more about the different types of breast reconstruction.