Breast Reconstruction

Albany Medical Center plastic surgeons perform the full range of reconstructive surgical procedures to provide women with the most options possible following mastectomies and other procedures. Our physicians work closely with oncologists and other specialists to determine the most appropriate solutions. They are specially trained in unique services such as DIEP flap reconstruction, among many other procedures.

Breast reconstruction is a procedure where a plastic surgeon recreates all or part of a breast that has been surgically removed. This can be done using implants or tissue from another part of the body or a combination of the two. The goal of this surgical procedure is to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size following a mastectomy.

Candidates for breast reconstruction:

The vast majority of women are candidates for reconstruction. There are many reconstructive options but you may not be a candidate for all types. You and your plastic surgeon will discuss which type of breast reconstruction is best for you.

Candidates include women who have been:

  • Diagnosed with breast cancer and had or will have a mastectomy.
  • Diagnosed with breast cancer and had or will have breast conservation surgery, such as partial mastectomy or lumpectomy.
  • Found to have a genetic mutation and will have prophylactic mastectomy (removal of non-cancerous breast to prevent cancer).

Main types of breast reconstruction:

Immediate vs Delayed Reconstruction:

  • Immediate reconstruction is breast reconstruction performed at the same time as your mastectomy. The majority of the surgeries done at Albany Medical Center are immediate reconstruction. With immediate reconstruction, you are decreasing the overall number of surgeries you may need and may  have a better chance at an optimal cosmetic result. For many women, there is also a psychological benefit to immediately pursuing reconstruction.

  • Delayed reconstruction is a term used if you choose to have the mastectomy done and then wait to have the reconstruction at a later date.


The type of reconstructive surgery you had will determine where and how long you stay in the hospital.

  • If you have tissue expander reconstruction (implant reconstruction) you will be on the regular floor in the hospital.
  • For any autologous tissue reconstruction or (free flap reconstruction) you will be admitted to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) where a nurse will check the blood flow to your flap every hour for the first 48 hours. This is done in a noninvasive way through a monitoring device placed at the time of your surgery.
        • 48 hours after the free flap surgery, you will be transferred to a regular bed. You will be up and walking on the second or third day after surgery and should be eating regular food by this time. Patients typically spend 4 days in the hospital after this surgery.

Regardless of your reconstruction type, you will have several drains post-operatively. These drains will remove excess fluid from the surgical sites that would otherwise collect there. You will be going home with some or all of the drains. You will learn how to care for the drains and record the outputs while you are in the hospital recovering.

Insurance Coverage

Federal law mandates that all insurance plans pay for breast reconstruction for breast cancer.