What is the Difference between a Breast Revision Surgery and Breast Reconstruction?

There are several types of breast enhancement procedures available, so understandably patients are sometimes confused about the purpose of the various options. Breast revision surgery and breast reconstruction are two surgeries that are routinely performed.

Understanding the difference between breast revision surgery and breast Reconstruction

Breast revision surgery

Breast revision surgery is a procedure that is done to revise the appearance of the breasts after an original breast augmentation surgery. This may involve changing the size of breast implants, or addressing complications.

Some women are disappointed with the outcome of their breast augmentation surgery and undergo breast revision to adjust the implant size. Others may experience complications such as breast implant rupture or rippling, capsular contracture, loss of symmetry, or the movement of the implant.

Patients are generally advised to wait at least 6-12 months before considering breast revision surgery, as the implants take time to settle into a natural position.

The procedure

There are several options that can be used to perform breast revision surgery and the choice will depend on the issues being corrected, and the aesthetic goals of the patient.

Surgery may sometimes simply involve switching out implants in preference for a larger or smaller size. At other times surgery is done to correct a problem like capsular contracture.

Capsular contracture occurs as a result of the formation of scar tissue around the breast implant, which can harden and squeeze the implant. A capsulectomy is done to address capsular contracture, by removing the scar tissue.


Recovery time after breast revision varies, depending on the type of revision done. The breasts are normally covered with gauze after the procedure, and a surgical sports bra is worn for at least 4 weeks. This provides support for the breasts, and helps to minimize swelling.

Breast reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is a surgical option for women that have had a mastectomy. It creates a breast mound, and restores breast shape and symmetry. Implants and autologous ’flap’ reconstruction are the two major options for breast reconstruction.

Although the goal of breast reconstruction is to rebuild the breast so that it is similar in appearance to the remaining breast, the results are sometimes variable.

The decision to undergo breast reconstruction is a very personal one. Some women opt to have the procedure done at the time of the mastectomy, while others choose to have breast reconstruction at a later date, or not at all.

Breast reconstruction with implants

Breast implants come in various shapes and sizes. The main types of implants are saline and silicone implants. Saline implants are filled with sterile salt water and silicone implants are filled with silicone gel. Silicone implants are often preferred, because they are softer and feel a lot like natural breast tissue.

Breast reconstruction with implants is a 3 step process that starts with tissue expansion. This involves using a temporary tissue expander to stretch the breast tissue and muscle, to accommodate the implant. The tissue expander is placed below the skin and chest muscle, and is gradually blown up with saline solution to achieve the desired size.

Another operation is then done to remove the tissue expander and replace it with a breast implant. The nipple-areolar complex is then reconstructed.

Autologous Flap reconstruction

This method uses the woman’s own tissue to rebuild the breast. Two of the most common options are the TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) flap, and the DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap.

The TRAM flap involves the use of muscle, skin, and fat from the lower abdominal region. The DIEP flap also uses skin and fat from the lower abdomen, but no muscle.


The incisions are bandaged, and surgical drains may be placed below the skin to collect any excess blood and fluid. Patients are given post-surgical instructions about how to care for incisions, and when to follow-up with their plastic surgeon.

Whereas breast revision surgery corrects a problem with a previous breast surgery, breast reconstruction surgery is done to restore the breast after a mastectomy.

If you are in the Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ areas, contact Dermatology and Plastic Surgery of AZ for more information.

Call 520-207-3100 for the Tucson location, or 520-458-1787 for the Sierra Vista location to set up a consultation.

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