Breast reconstruction after breast cancer and mastectomy

Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the Netherlands among women. The moment breast cancer is diagnosed, surgery may be necessary. This can be done through breast-conserving surgery but in some cases a mastectomy is necessary. This involves complete removal of the breast.

Breast reconstruction

After mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery, breast reconstruction may be desired. It can be of great significance to quality of life. Breast reconstruction has been shown to help women treated for breast cancer recover by reducing the psychological, social and sexual disadvantages associated with losing a breast.

Breast reconstruction is possible in the following stages of breast cancer:

  • Breast reconstruction is performed directly after a mastectomy (primary breast reconstruction).
  • Breast reconstruction is performed at a later stage. This can even continue for years after the mastectomy (secondary breast reconstruction).
  • In breast-conserving surgery, the plastic surgeon can ensure that the shape of the breast can be preserved.

If breast reconstruction is desired, the plastic surgeon comes into the picture. The plastic surgeon will discuss with you what options are best for you. Your wishes will be included as much as possible. You are at the helm with your plastic surgeon.

Breast reconstruction options:

  • breast reconstruction with your own tissue.
  • breast reconstruction using implants.
  • Oncoplastic reconstructions in breast-conserving surgery to prevent denting and displacement of the nipple

Breast reconstruction with your own tissue

More and more women are choosing breast reconstruction with their own tissue. At one of the cooperating hospitals, all of the above techniques are possible. This operation uses skin and fat from the abdomen to make a breast. The very small blood vessels of the abdominal fat are detached at the level of the groin and reattached to other blood vessels at the chest. This is done using a microscope. A new breast is then formed from the abdominal fat and abdominal skin. The result on the abdomen is similar to a tummy tuck, where there is a scar on the lower abdomen.

Benefits of breast reconstruction with your own tissue:

  • Only body tissue is used.
  • One gets a “warm” breast and new techniques also make it possible to preserve sensation.

Disadvantages of breast reconstruction with your own tissue:

  • It is a long intensive operation lasting 4-6 hours.
  • Two scars on the abdomen and chest are visible.

Learn more about this operation at

Breast reconstruction using implants

If breast reconstruction with your own tissue is not chosen, reconstruction with implants can also be performed. Depending on the situation, in many cases the skin will need to be stretched first. This is done using so-called tissue (tissue) expansion. Tissue expansion means stretching the skin by inserting an implant.

Over time, the implant is filled with fluid so that more and more stretch is added to the skin. When enough skin has been stretched over time, the final implant can be inserted. Usually a drop-shaped prosthesis is used for this purpose.

Sometimes it is not necessary to apply tissue expansion and the definitive prosthesis can be inserted immediately.

Benefits of breast reconstruction with implants:

  • It is a short operation, duration is about 1 hour.
  • There are no scars in any other places.

Disadvantages of breast reconstruction with implants:

  • It often requires multiple surgeries and, later, a prosthetic change.
  • Non-body material is used.

Want to know more?

The plastic surgeons of MOOI Kliniek, MUMC Maastricht and Zuyderland, location Sittard, work in a partnership.

Because of this intensive collaboration, this team is constantly up to date with the latest developments and are even pioneering new developments in the field of breast reconstruction using the so-called DIEP technique. Double-sided DIEP operations are also performed at MUMC Maastricht.

Learn more about DIEP surgery at

To determine which breast reconstruction option is best for you, education and discussion of your individual needs is of utmost importance. Together with the plastic surgeon, you will make a choice that best suits your situation.


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