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Auckland Regional Plastic Reconstructive and Hand Surgery

Public Service, Plastic Surgery, Cancer Network Group, Orthopaedics

Breast Reconstruction

The goal of breast reconstruction surgery is to reconstruct an alternative breast mound, which resembles the form and characteristics of a normal breast.

There are a number of options available and not all are suitable for every situation.  Your Plastic Surgeon and team will discuss what types of reconstruction are suitable for you and when.

Excess weight and smoking affect the chance of a successful outcome and therefore breast reconstruction will usually only be offered to non-smoking women with a BMI <35.

Timing of Reconstruction

Immediate breast reconstruction means creating the new breast mound at the same operation as your mastectomy.


For various reasons some patients are not suitable, or do not wish to have a reconstruction at the time of mastectomy.  Breast reconstruction can be anytime, even years after a mastectomy.


Types of Breast Reconstruction

There are three main types of breast reconstruction:

  1. prosthetic: uses an implant
  2. autologous: uses own tissue
  3. using a combination of both


Prosthetic reconstruction: replaces the breast tissue that has been removed with an artificial implant underneath the skin and muscle of the chest wall.

Autologous (own tissue) or flap reconstruction: this involves moving tissue usually skin, fat and sometimes muscle from one part of the body to create a breast shape.

Combination of both: this means combining your own tissue with an implant to make a breast.

There are many possible variations and different options that will be further discussed in more detail by your Plastic Surgeon.


Nipple Reconstruction

Nipple reconstruction is one of the final options for breast reconstruction.  The nipple is created by using local breast skin or a small implant.
Once this is healed it can then be tattooed to give the illusion of an areola and nipple.

Most breast reconstruction operations will require several operations and clinic visits.  The actual number of operations and recovery time will vary depending on what type of reconstruction you choose.  These factors will be discussed with you during your consultation with your Plastic Surgeon.

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This page was last updated at 1:18PM on December 21, 2021.