Breast Reconstruction


Breast reconstruction after cancer or other conditions is an important part of the healing process for many women. Restoring a sense of femininity and wholeness to someone is really quite an exceptional experience. It’s one of the most satisfying and humbling aspects of my work.

Breast reconstruction surgery can be a ray of hope in a difficult time. Mastectomies or other conditions that affect the breasts are often emotional events. Despite knowing that her body is beautiful no matter what, a woman may experience a deep sense of sorrow when confronted with losing one or both breasts. Important aspects of self-image — like femininity, sexuality, maternity or wholeness — might depend upon having breasts that look and feel a certain way. When these elements of identity are taken away by illnesses or accidents that are beyond a woman’s control, the opportunity to undergo breast reconstruction surgery can help restore her confidence and sense of self.

Watching our breast reconstruction patients take this journey is an exceptional experience that never fails to leave our team feeling awed and humbled. Dr. Andrews and his staff are proud to provide breast reconstruction surgery for women who have lost one or both breasts to cancer, illness or otherwise. We offer several different types of breast reconstruction procedures, and we work closely with each client to determine the approach that will deliver her best results. If you are interested in finding out if our breast reconstruction services are right for you, we encourage you to reach out to us to schedule an in-person consultation with Dr. Andrews.

Breast Reconstruction at Dr. Andrews Plastic Surgery

The initial consultation meeting is everyone’s first step before a procedure like breast reconstruction. During this face-to-face meeting with Dr. Andrews, you’ll discuss topics from why you’re interested in breast reconstruction, to your medical history, to what kinds of results you’re hoping to achieve. The information gleaned from this appointment will help Dr. Andrews recommend techniques that are most appropriate for your particular situation.

There are two main types of breast reconstruction that we provide: tissue expander reconstruction, and autologous or tissue flap reconstruction. Each option comes with certain risks and rewards — Dr. Andrews will help you understand the nuances of your choices, but we outline each procedure here so you can know what to expect.

Tissue Expander Breast Reconstruction

Tissue expander reconstruction with Dr. Andrews uses implants to create your new breasts. But implants require a certain amount of space in your breast tissue for safe and proper placement. Unlike a breast augmentation — where the implant is placed within your natural breast tissue — post-mastectomy reconstruction patients usually do not have enough natural body tissue left in the chest to safely cover a full implant.

In order to create the space for an implant, you will first undergo a surgery in which Dr. Andrews places a specialized expander implant in your breast area, below the skin and muscle. At weekly follow-up appointments over the course of about three months, Dr. Andrews or one of our nurses will non-surgically inject implant filler solution through a valve in the expander implant. Then, once the expander implant has been filled to the appropriate size, a second surgical procedure replaces the expander with a permanent implant of your desired material and shape.

Many women who explore this option worry that implants won’t look or feel like the natural breast or breasts they have lost. At Dr. Andrews Plastic Surgery, we most often use an implant known as a gummy bear silicone implant, which is highly regarded in our industry as the most natural-looking and -feeling implant available. These implants are filled with a soft silicone gel and have a full-on-the-bottom, teardrop-like shape that closely mimics a natural breast. Additionally, the silicone filler in our gummy bear implants is made with a cohesive gel technology that coheres — or sticks together — in the event of rupture, preventing potential harms from silicone gel leakage.

Tissue Expander Reconstruction Recovery

You should plan on taking about two weeks away from work or school following each tissue expander surgery. If you work from home or are a full-time family caretaker, you should arrange for help around the house during this time. You will be able to slowly build back up to normal activities under Dr. Andrews’ supervision. You will continue to have follow-up appointments so our team can monitor your healing, and Dr. Andrews will clear you for activities like driving, lifting or exercising as you progress through recovery.

The first surgery to place the expander implant usually involves a longer recovery — up to four weeks — while the second recovery is easier. Some women choose to have their expander implant placed during their mastectomy, which results in a recovery time of about six weeks. At Dr. Andrews Plastic Surgery, we specialize in delayed reconstruction for women who have already healed from their mastectomy; in these cases, recovery from tissue expander surgeries is usually faster.

Tissue Expander Reconstruction Overview

Benefits of tissue expander reconstruction include:

  • Less intensive procedure and shorter recovery time compared to autologous reconstruction
  • Predictable breast symmetry, especially for women who have had double mastectomies
  • Highly customizable outcomes based on desired implant shape, size and type
  • Usually performed on an outpatient basis (patients can return home the same day)

Some drawbacks to consider include:

  • Requires two surgeries and weekly expander appointments over the course of a few months
  • Not suitable for women who still need chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Possible need for revision surgery
  • Possible complications from implants/synthetic materials, such as capsular contracture or rupture

Autologous Reconstruction

Autologous reconstruction uses your own body tissues to replace lost breast volume. During the surgical procedure for this type of reconstruction, Dr. Andrews will move a segment of fat and muscle from a donor site on your body to the breast area. Donor sites are most often on the abdomen, but alternatives include the hips, thighs or shoulder blade. While this type of reconstruction only requires one surgery, it is more intensive than either tissue expander procedure. You will have two surgical sites instead of one since Dr. Andrews will need to operate on both the donor site and your breast area.

One other consideration is that your body will naturally absorb some of the transplanted tissue, so your final results may be noticeably smaller than they appeared immediately post-op. It can be difficult to predict how much tissue will be absorbed, and it can differ from breast to breast, making this a somewhat riskier option for women who had a double mastectomy and are hoping for a symmetrical outcome. You may need to opt for a secondary procedure to reshape the breast once tissue reabsorption is complete.

With this technique, though, long-term results have very high rates of patient satisfaction. Your new breasts will look and feel incredibly natural because they will be made from your own body. Breasts reconstructed with an autologous approach will even change size and shape alongside your body with age or weight fluctuations. What’s more, many women carry extra fat on their abdomens, hips or thighs that they are happy to remove and put toward reconstructing their breasts. Depending on your body type, you may be able to achieve an overall more sculpted figure using this method of reconstruction.

Tissue Flap Reconstruction Recovery

Depending on where your donor site is located, you may need to stay overnight in the hospital for several days. When you return home, you should plan on taking about two more weeks away from most daily activities, such as a sedentary job or light housework. You should arrange for help around the house for a few weeks while you regain your energy and a full range of body movement. You will need to avoid strenuous activities like heavy lifting or exercising for six to eight weeks, or as advised by your plastic surgeon.

Tissue flap reconstruction surgery differs greatly from patient to patient, depending on where the donor site is, how much donor tissue is used and what their goals are for their new breasts. With this variety, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how long your recovery will take. Dr. Andrews works closely with his autologous reconstruction patients to help them plan for their recovery based on the specifics of their surgery.

Tissue Flap Reconstruction Overview

Benefits of tissue flap reconstruction include:

  • Natural-looking and -feeling results
  • No synthetic materials
  • Women can still undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Breasts that change over time alongside your body
  • Can help remove some unwanted tissue (e.g., fat tissue) from the abdomen

Some drawbacks of tissue flap reconstruction include:

  • Intensive surgery with a longer recovery
  • Some of the transferred tissue can be absorbed, making it difficult to predict final results
  • Usually requires an overnight hospital stay
  • May require minor follow-up procedure(s) to put the “finishing touches” on the breasts once tissue absorption has finalized
  • Possible long-term effects like visible scarring or muscle weakness at donor sites

What Makes Dr. Andrews Plastic Surgery Different?

The Dr. Andrews Plastic Surgery team values clear communication and patient education, so we will be sure that you understand our recommendations and agree with them before moving forward with anything. We encourage you to ask any and all questions you may have, no matter how small they may seem.

We also value compassion, empathy and respect toward each of our clients. We will never pressure you to have a procedure that you don’t want or don’t need; we deeply understand that breast reconstruction procedures, in particular, are a very personal matter. While to some women these procedures are empowering and exciting, others may approach them with apprehension or uncertainty. If you are unsure whether you want a breast reconstruction, you can use your consultation with Dr. Andrews to learn about the procedure and all of your options moving forward. Breast reconstruction is not right for everyone, and your decisions about your body are your own. No matter what you choose, we will respect your choice and will never make you feel anything less than confident and beautiful.

Contact Dr. Andrews Plastic Surgery

Breast reconstruction is an important part of both the physical and emotional healing process. Dr. Andrews has guided many patients through the reconstruction procedure and through recovery. As a board-certified plastic surgeon known for his exceptional skill and compassion, Dr. Andrews can help you achieve your ideal restoration outcomes. We proudly serve patients in the greater Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa area, with locations in Cedar Rapids and in Coralville. Contact Dr. Andrews Plastic Surgery today to schedule your consultation and learn more about the breast reconstruction process — call our team at 319-382-8230.


Breast Reconstruction Videos



Click the button to the right to view more before and afters.

Before & Afters

June 26th, 2013

Dr. Andrews is an artist. His academic credentials are second to none. You can see that sensibility in every aspect of his practice, and his life. His outcomes are exceptional, and there isn’t a surgeon anywhere that I trust more.*
2015-02-10T19:25:22+00:00
Dr. Andrews is an artist. His academic credentials are second to none. You can see that sensibility in every aspect of his practice, and his life. His outcomes are exceptional, and there isn’t a surgeon anywhere that I trust more.*

May 27th, 2013

I am beyond happy with my results. I had extra skin hanging from my abdomen after gaining weight from pregnancies. Dr. Andrews was compassionate and understanding about how this affected me and my self-esteem.*
2015-02-10T19:25:46+00:00
I am beyond happy with my results. I had extra skin hanging from my abdomen after gaining weight from pregnancies. Dr. Andrews was compassionate and understanding about how this affected me and my self-esteem.*

May 27th, 2013

I can now wear bikinis! I continue to work out and can finally see the results of my hard work. Thank you Dr. Andrews – a California gem in the midwest!*
2015-02-10T19:26:11+00:00
I can now wear bikinis! I continue to work out and can finally see the results of my hard work. Thank you Dr. Andrews – a California gem in the midwest!*

June 1st, 2013

Dr. Andrews is one of the best plastic surgeons I’ve worked with! His patients are very pleased with their results. I highly recommend him!*
2015-02-10T19:26:35+00:00
Dr. Andrews is one of the best plastic surgeons I’ve worked with! His patients are very pleased with their results. I highly recommend him!*

Jan 24th, 2013

Dr Andrews was wonderful!! Great Guy… awesome job on my reconstruction!!*
2015-02-10T19:26:55+00:00
Dr Andrews was wonderful!! Great Guy… awesome job on my reconstruction!!*

Nov 2nd, 2012

I had suffered debilitating Hidradenitis. He gave me the ability to have a normal life again. My scars look amazing and he was able to close with the most beautiful lines! He was such a caring doctor who is so gifted. I hope to follow his practice wherever he may go!*
2015-02-10T19:27:28+00:00
I had suffered debilitating Hidradenitis. He gave me the ability to have a normal life again. My scars look amazing and he was able to close with the most beautiful lines! He was such a caring doctor who is so gifted. I hope to follow his practice wherever he may go!*

Oct 29th, 2012

Dr. Andrews was the absolute best doctor for me - very informative, sensitive, and caring with just the right amount of humor during the appointments.*
2015-02-10T19:27:54+00:00
Dr. Andrews was the absolute best doctor for me - very informative, sensitive, and caring with just the right amount of humor during the appointments.*

Extraordinary doctor

Before saying that you are an extraordinary doctor, I want to tell you that you are an extraordinary human being. Thanks for showing me so much care and concern.*
2015-03-30T12:00:04+00:00
Before saying that you are an extraordinary doctor, I want to tell you that you are an extraordinary human being. Thanks for showing me so much care and concern.*

You Rock!!

I wanted to write you a thank you letter because I would never be able to find the words to say how much I appreciate everything you did for me. Thanks to you I can feel normal and not always worry if people will find out about my problem. I can’t even begin to say thank you enough or to show my gratitude. You’re an amazing person, wonderful doctor, and my hero. All in all, you ROCK!!!*
2015-03-30T12:00:42+00:00
I wanted to write you a thank you letter because I would never be able to find the words to say how much I appreciate everything you did for me. Thanks to you I can feel normal and not always worry if people will find out about my problem. I can’t even begin to say thank you enough or to show my gratitude. You’re an amazing person, wonderful doctor, and my hero. All in all, you ROCK!!!*

You all are the best!

Thank you so much for ALL of your help in my recovery thru “sometimes emotional” journey with my cancer. You all were always professional and took the time with my long list of questions. I can n0t thank you enough! Easter is my favorite time of the year and I pray God will continue to strengthen your gift and skills in healing because you all are the best!*
2015-03-30T12:02:02+00:00
Thank you so much for ALL of your help in my recovery thru “sometimes emotional” journey with my cancer. You all were always professional and took the time with my long list of questions. I can n0t thank you enough! Easter is my favorite time of the year and I pray God will continue to strengthen your gift and skills in healing because you all are the best!*

Amazing!

I’m ecstatic with my new body. It is PERFECT! I can’t even put in wordshow we feel, You are so compassionate unlike any Doctor I’ve met. I realize I’ve been a needy patient and you handled me well. You’ve gone above and beyond with me after hours for medications and issues. Also more quotes than necessary, but you did it! Your work ad attentiveness to my expectations I can’t say enough!! Now to pu the finale pictures in your gallery to show how complete I am now! You are AMAZING! Thank You! It’s been a very long, hard journey! Now to live life with the new ME!*
2015-03-30T12:02:20+00:00
I’m ecstatic with my new body. It is PERFECT! I can’t even put in wordshow we feel, You are so compassionate unlike any Doctor I’ve met. I realize I’ve been a needy patient and you handled me well. You’ve gone above and beyond with me after hours for medications and issues. Also more quotes than necessary, but you did it! Your work ad attentiveness to my expectations I can’t say enough!! Now to pu the finale pictures in your gallery to show how complete I am now! You are AMAZING! Thank You! It’s been a very long, hard journey! Now to live life with the new ME!*

With appreciation

With appreciation for putting me back together!*
2015-03-30T12:02:40+00:00
With appreciation for putting me back together!*

I am forever grateful

I consider myself blessed to be under your care as I navigated the stormy sea of breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, reconstruction, and recovery. I cannot thank you enough and am so pleased with the results! You have all been wonderful, and I will miss seeing you even though I am thrilled to be healed and moving on! The impact you have on patients who are scared and overwhelmed cannot be overstated...and I am forever grateful.*
2015-03-30T12:03:02+00:00
I consider myself blessed to be under your care as I navigated the stormy sea of breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, reconstruction, and recovery. I cannot thank you enough and am so pleased with the results! You have all been wonderful, and I will miss seeing you even though I am thrilled to be healed and moving on! The impact you have on patients who are scared and overwhelmed cannot be overstated...and I am forever grateful.*

Thank You

Thank you. For me, you are as similar as God because you created me again. It’s an amazing feeling. I feel my earlier life back again. Once again thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.*
2015-03-30T12:03:24+00:00
Thank you. For me, you are as similar as God because you created me again. It’s an amazing feeling. I feel my earlier life back again. Once again thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.*

April 12, 2016

Since my hysterectomy, sex has been extremely painful. I suffered from extreme dryness and discomfort. I had no sex drive and was no longer able to experience an orgasm. Until, recently, when a friend told me about Courtney Albritton and PCI's ThermiVa treatment. I have had 2 of the 3 treatments and immediately experienced positive results. I am still in awe of the results I have experienced. The procedure was painless. Until ThermiVa, I had come to the realization that my sex life would no longer be what it once was pre-hysterectomy. I highly recommend this procedure.*
2016-05-05T11:40:35+00:00
Since my hysterectomy, sex has been extremely painful. I suffered from extreme dryness and discomfort. I had no sex drive and was no longer able to experience an orgasm. Until, recently, when a friend told me about Courtney Albritton and PCI's ThermiVa treatment. I have had 2 of the 3 treatments and immediately experienced positive results. I am still in awe of the results I have experienced. The procedure was painless. Until ThermiVa, I had come to the realization that my sex life would no longer be what it once was pre-hysterectomy. I highly recommend this procedure.*

I am a patient at Dr. Andrews!

I am a patient at Dr. Andrews! I highly recommend utilizing their services. Very thorough consultations, educational and informative. They give you lots of options to fit your needs and guide you through it. Amazing staff that is highly trained with the most up to date procedures and tools. I can't say enough about Dr. Andrews and his amazing staff!*
5.0
2016-09-28T15:22:01+00:00
I am a patient at Dr. Andrews! I highly recommend utilizing their services. Very thorough consultations, educational and informative. They give you lots of options to fit your needs and guide you through it. Amazing staff that is highly trained with the most up to date procedures and tools. I can't say enough about Dr. Andrews and his amazing staff!*

January 11, 2017

Dear Dr. Andrews,
Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me and my family. You are trustworthy, kind and personable. We really appreciate you and your talent. Thank you!*
5.0
2017-01-11T13:02:59+00:00
Dear Dr. Andrews, Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me and my family. You are trustworthy, kind and personable. We really appreciate you and your talent. Thank you!*

Amy Bonney Cejka

Just had my surgery from Dr. Andrews and everything is great!! He is the most kindest Dr. ever!*
5.0
2017-01-22T15:30:46+00:00
Just had my surgery from Dr. Andrews and everything is great!! He is the most kindest Dr. ever!*

You change peoples’ lives!

You change peoples’ lives! Words cannot express how much I love my new girls! Thank you so much for giving me exactly what I wanted. You are amazing!*
5.0
2017-02-24T14:28:06+00:00
You change peoples’ lives! Words cannot express how much I love my new girls! Thank you so much for giving me exactly what I wanted. You are amazing!*
1.0
19

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