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Breast Reconstruction

Jacobs Medical Center

Surgeries are performed at Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla, which offers a dedicated recovery unit with specialized care that can shorten a patient's stay and decrease the need for opioid pain medication.

The decision to have breast reconstruction is a highly personal choice. Many women choose to have breast reconstruction after mastectomy to improve body image, self-esteem and desire for intimacy. 

Look to UC San Diego Health for expert breast reconstruction. Our board-certified plastic surgeons are leaders in innovative surgical techniques to restore a natural silhouette, with less scarring and a faster recovery. 

You can also count on us for outstanding care because we are recognized as the region's No. 1 health care system by U.S. News & World Report

What Is Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is surgery to create a new breast (including the nipple and areola) in place of a breast that has been removed (mastectomy). Reconstruction can be achieved with implants or with your own tissue (flap procedures). The goal of reconstruction is to restore or create a natural and balanced look and shape to your breast.

Coordinated, Comprehensive Care

Breast reconstruction is often performed after a mastectomy to remove breast cancer. 

If you are receiving treatment for breast cancer at UC San Diego Health, our plastic surgeons work closely with the Comprehensive Breast Health Center to coordinate your reconstructive surgery with your cancer care.  This collaboration improves our ability to effectively remove your cancer while achieving an aesthetically pleasing outcome.

Reconstruction can take place at the same time as a mastectomy or be scheduled later. Anne Wallace, MD, is both a surgical oncologist and a reconstructive surgeon. She often performs mastectomies and reconstruction simultaneously. In other cases, your surgical oncologist may partner with a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, or the surgeries may be scheduled separately. Your surgical oncologist and plastic surgeon will work together closely to plan your care.

We also regularly treat patients who have had mastectomies at other medical centers, patients who are seeking an alternative to a previous reconstruction with implants, or those who need breast reconstruction for other reasons. Our surgeons are sought out for their skill and expertise in complex reconstructive surgeries due to cancer recurrence, radiation or wound damage, or other complex issues.

Types of Breast Reconstruction

Reconstructive Surgery Explained

For information on how each surgery is performed, or the differences between implants and autologous surgery, see What Happens During Reconstructive Surgery.

At UC San Diego Health, we offer several types of breast reconstruction. This means your surgeon can personalize your care to your health and preferences. 

Your surgeon will spend extensive time with you to help you weigh your options and understand the expected results of each procedure.

Implants

We use the best available and most well-studied silicone breast implants to create a breast mound. 

Flap Procedures

Flap procedures are advanced microsurgeries that use your own tissue (skin, fat and / or blood vessels and muscle) to form the shape of a breast. This creates a more realistic looking breast that will age and change naturally.

We offer several types of flap procedures, including:

A Patient's Perspective

"I feel better about myself and I'm grateful for my surgeon. After going through this procedure, I wouldn’t change a thing,” says patient Annette Whalen after free flap surgery. More about her story.

  • DIEP flap, which uses blood vessels called deep inferior epigastric perforators, as well as the abdominal skin and fat connected to them, to reconstruct a breast. A DIEP flap also leaves the belly looking flatter and tighter, much like a tummy tuck.
  • PAP flap, which uses a section of skin and fat from the back of your upper thigh to reconstruct a breast. This also gives the effect of a thigh lift.
  • Latissimus dorsi reconstruction, which uses muscle from your back to create a new breast mound.

Breast Balancing, Augmentation and Reduction

Your breast reconstruction plan can include breast size and shape balancing, as well as breast augmentation or breast reduction. Depending on the cosmetic outcome you prefer, you may need surgery on the unaffected breast to attain the desired appearance.

Post-Surgical Recovery and Pain Management

hallway inside Jacobs Medical Center

When needed, you have access to a specialized recovery unit at Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla and UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest. 

We also provide expert pre- and post-surgical pain management to improve your comfort, speed recovery and reduce your need for opioid pain medication.