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Breast reconstruction: an animated guide

These short animations aim to give you a better idea of what you can expect from a breast reconstruction procedure after having a mastectomy.

It is important to bear in mind when you are watching the clips that these operations are the first stage of any breast reconstruction treatment and you may need more surgery.

They show techniques that use a breast implant and those that use your body tissue to reconstruct the breast – including the LD flap (tissue taken from the back area which often incorporates an additional breast implant), TRAM flap (a flap of tissue and muscle taken from the abdomen) and the DIEP flap (tissue taken from the abdomen but without taking any muscle). You will also see an indication of what scarring you can expect after the procedure is completed and the breast is healed. This scarring will vary according to the procedure and the surgeon who performs the operation.

The three clips can be viewed all together (in the first video immediately below) or one at a time depending on which procedures you would like to see (in the subsequent three films).

All the films refer to our latest Breast reconstruction booklet which you can download from the publications box to the right of this page.

This short animation (which combines the three videos below) will give you a better idea of what you can expect from a breast reconstruction procedure after having a mastectomy. They are not designed to be especially detailed or scientific, just to give you an idea of how the process of breast reconstruction works and which areas of your body are likely to be affected.

This film shows techniques that use a breast implant and those that use your body tissue to reconstruct the breast – including the LD flap where  tissue is taken from your back. This operation will usually involve having a  breast implant inserted in addition to the tissue removed from your back.

The TRAM flap technique takes skin, tissue and muscle from the abdomen to create the reconstruction.

A DIEP flap reconstruction uses skin and tissue taken from the abdomen without taking any muscle.

A range of techniques can be used to reconstruct the breast. Breast reconstruction surgery techniques change as current methods are improved. Each operation is adapted to match your individual needs, and the final shape, outcome of surgery and suitability for a particular technique will differ from person to person. You should discuss these with your specialist team and take time to consider your options.

Content last reviewed March 2012; next planned review 2014.

 - All these animations were produced by Selina Wagner in conjunction with Breast Cancer Care.

Last edited:

18 November 2013