Last updated: Apr 16, 2008

The following are the two most common breast cancer reconstruction surgeries that use a woman's own tissue (autologous reconstruction):



TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) flap
Tissue is taken from the lower abdomen—though in most cases it's still attached to the body in order to maintain its blood supply—and tunneled under the skin and up to the chest. There it's shaped into a breast and sewn into place and the tummy tuck incision is closed. (Bonus: You get a flatter stomach in the bargain.)

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Latissimus dorsi flap
Tissue is taken from your upper back and tunneled under the skin to your chest, which forms a pocket for an implant, or may be used to shape a breast without an implant. Tissue expanders are sometimes used with this type of procedure, as well.

Keep in mind that both surgeries can take several hours and require extensive follow-up procedures. Also, smokers and those with other serious health conditions such as diabetes, vascular disease, or connective tissue disease are generally poor candidates for either kind of reconstruction surgery. Obesity may also render the TRAM procedure unavailable to some women.