Breast reconstruction options after breast cancer

The plastic surgeons at MOOI Clinic are in the business of beautifying breasts every day. Elevators, enlarges, reduces but also with breast reconstruction in women treated for breast cancer. In fact, our plastic surgeons also work in our Limburg hospitals MUMC, Zuyderland and VieCuri. October is the month for the Breast Cancer Society of the Netherlands and Pink Ribbon to reflect on breast cancer and what it means for each patient. Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the Netherlands among women. Through this article, MOOI Clinic wants to raise awareness of the possibilities for breast reconstruction, especially since our plastic surgeons are very experienced in this and are constantly engaged in research and development.

Breast sparing surgery or mastectomy

When breast cancer is diagnosed, treatment is usually necessary and surgery is likely to follow. This can be done through breast-conserving surgery, such as removing the tumor from the breast. The healthy tissue remains intact. In some cases, mastectomy is necessary. This involves complete removal of the breast. Sometimes the doctor also removes the lymph nodes in the armpit and the nipple is also removed. The surgery takes an average of 1 to 1.5 hours. After surgery, the shape of your breast is gone and your upper body is flat on the side where you had surgery.

Depending on your situation, you can opt for breast reconstruction directly during mastectomy in the same surgery. If this is not possible, you will receive a temporary external breast prosthesis. Once the wound has healed, you can purchase a definitive external prosthesis from a specialty store, or opt for breast reconstruction.

Breast reconstruction

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 together with the plastic surgeon.

Breast reconstruction can have a significant impact on 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.

Options for breast reconstruction

  • Breast reconstruction by lipofilling (your own fat).
  • Breast reconstruction via the DIEP lap method
  • breast reconstruction using implants.
  • Oncoplastic reconstructions in breast-conserving surgery to prevent denting and displacement of the nipple

Breast reconstruction by lipofilling

The study found that women who have had breast reconstruction using lipofilling (their own body fat) are very satisfied with their bodies and breasts after this treatment. That this technique is also used for total breast reconstruction is new. Excess fat in the abdomen or thighs or legs are suctioned out and replaced in the breasts. This method also uses the EVE cups, with which our plastic surgeon Andrzej Piatkowski is very experienced. A repeat of this surgery is often necessary to achieve a nice result.

Breast reconstruction via the DIEP lap method

This surgery uses skin and fat from the abdomen to create 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. The DIEP lap method is an intensive surgery, leaving two scars visible on the torso, but it does result in a “warm” breast (possibly with feeling). Learn more about this operation at

Breast reconstruction using implants

If breast reconstruction with your own tissue such as lipofilling or the DIEP lap method is not chosen, reconstruction with breast 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.

Other breast reconstructive surgeries

In addition to the options above, there are other options for placing your own body tissue back at or in the breast. Tissue can be extracted from the thighs, back and buttocks.

Nipple reconstruction

Before surgery, you will know whether your nipples will also be removed or can be spared. In breast cancer, the nipple can be spared only if the tumor is not too close to the nipple, because then it is not safe to keep the nipple. However, the nipple is often removed during a complete mastectomy. There are several techniques the plastic surgeon uses to create a new nipple. A new nipple bud can be made from your skin. This skin can then be tattooed so that the new nipple and areola have a natural color.

Breast reconstruction is possible in almost every woman. 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 pioneers of new developments in the field of breast reconstruction.

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.