Implant Reconstruction

Conveniently located to serve the areas of Lake Forest and Chicago, IL

Implant-based breast reconstruction is a remarkable surgical procedure that helps restore the natural appearance of the breasts after mastectomy due to breast cancer or other medical conditions. Either silicone implants or saline implants can recreate the shape, size, and symmetry of the breasts. The choice of implant material depends on various factors, including patient preference, body type, and overall goals. Both options provide excellent outcomes and are known for their safety and durability. The process typically begins with tissue expanders, which are temporary devices placed above the chest muscle to gradually stretch the skin and create space for the implants. This allows for a more natural and comfortable final result.

Michael Howard M.D. offers professional implant reconstruction at his private practice in Lake Forest, Chicago, and Glenview. He understands the sensitivity of the situation for patients who have undergone mastectomies, and he is passionate about providing compassionate and personalized care. For more information, call (224) 271-4250 or contact us online. 

Before and After Photos

About Implant Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is a critical aspect of the journey for many women who have undergone a mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment. It is a procedure that aims to restore the shape, size, and symmetry of the breasts, helping patients regain their confidence and sense of femininity. One of the options available for breast reconstruction is implant-based reconstruction. Plastic surgeons like Dr. Howard have the skills and expertise to perform procedures like implant reconstruction and give patients a new lease on life.

Implant reconstruction can restore the size and shape of the breasts using breast implants. The implants are made of a silicone shell, filled with either silicone gel or a saline solution. The procedure involves a surgeon placing the implants underneath the skin, increasing their volume and providing a firm and consistent shape. However, the implant reconstruction process can be more complex than typical breast augmentations with implants.

Tissue Expansion

Some patients can receive implants immediately after their mastectomy. This is called direct-to-implant reconstruction. However, many patients require a tissue expander before their procedure. Tissue expansion stretches the skin and soft tissue of the breast to prepare it for the added volume of the implants. This process involves Dr. Howard placing a temporary implant called a tissue expander within your breast. Over several months, we inject saline into the balloon-like expander, gradually stretching the skin around it. When your breasts are ready, Dr. Howard will replace the expander with the implants. This is a common feature of the implant reconstruction process. It is typically necessary for patients without much excess fat or skin. (1)

Benefits of Implant Reconstruction

Implant-based breast reconstruction offers a multitude of benefits to patients seeking to restore their breasts after mastectomy or breast trauma. Breast implants are made of synthetic material, you do not have to worry about eventual loss of volume. (2) You have a choice of breast implant size as well, so you can achieve the breast size and shape that you have always wanted if you so desire. Restoring the appearance of your breasts can have a profound impact on your self-esteem and body image, allowing you to regain confidence and embrace your femininity after mastectomy. With a focus on enhancing self-confidence and achieving natural-looking results, Dr. Howard’s approach provides comprehensive and personalized solutions tailored to each patient’s unique needs.

Other Options for Breast Reconstruction

Dr. Howard specializes in DIEP flap breast reconstruction. This is an advanced and highly effective technique used to reconstruct the breasts after mastectomy or breast cancer treatment. The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap procedure involves using a woman’s own abdominal tissue to recreate natural-looking and feeling breasts.

This state-of-the-art approach to breast reconstruction offers numerous benefits. By utilizing a woman’s own tissue, the reconstructed breasts not only look but also feel more natural. The use of microsurgery ensures precise blood vessel connections, leading to improved blood supply and reduced risk of complications. Additionally, the DIEP flap procedure allows Dr. Howard more flexibility in shaping and contouring the breasts, resulting in personalized and aesthetically pleasing results.

Who is a Candidate for Implant Reconstruction?

Surgical candidates for breast reconstruction include women who have undergone mastectomy, lumpectomy, or other breast cancer surgeries. Additionally, individuals who have experienced trauma, congenital abnormalities, or asymmetry in their breasts may also be suitable candidates for implant-based reconstruction.

Personal Consultation

At your personal consultation, we will speak with you about the implant reconstruction procedure. You can tell us about the aesthetic goals that you have for your breasts, and we can let you know how we can meet them. Come prepared to discuss details about your mastectomy, as well as all past surgeries, conditions, and medications. We will perform a physical exam and run some tests. If we believe that an implant reconstruction procedure is the best choice for you, we can schedule your appointment and give you all of the relevant information. To schedule your consultation, call (224) 271-4250 or fill out this form.


Because every patient and mastectomy is different, we will have personalized instructions for how you can best prepare. If tissue expansion is a part of your treatment plan, we will walk you through that process. In general, you should avoid smoking tobacco and consuming alcohol for as long as you can before your procedure. These substances can cause negative health effects and increase the potential for complications. You should also avoid blood-thinning substances like ibuprofen, which can cause excessive bleeding during surgery. Try to maintain your health and energy in the days before your procedure by hydrating, eating healthily, and staying active.

Your mobility will be limited by the sensitivity of your chest area, so you should prepare your home for recovery. Stock up on all the groceries that you’ll need for the duration of your downtime, and place everything within reach. Lastly, don’t forget to schedule a ride home on the day of your procedure.

Implant Reconstruction Procedure

There are a few variables that may apply to your implant reconstruction procedure. You can receive immediate reconstruction after your mastectomy, or delayed reconstruction. This will depend on whether or not you need tissue expansion. The procedure will be essentially the same once your chest is ready to receive the implants. On the day of your procedure, we will administer general anesthesia to you to minimize your discomfort. Dr. Howard will make the incisions as discreetly as he can while still being able to insert the particular size of implant that you will be receiving. Depending on the amount of breast tissue that you have, he will either place the implants above or below the pectoral muscle.

Nipple Reconstruction

There is also the option to receive nipple reconstruction during this procedure, in which Dr. Howard can resize, reshape, and relocate the nipples to accommodate the new size and shape of your breasts. This is occasionally necessary if the mastectomy or reconstruction process affects the nipple. It is not uncommon to separate the initial procedure, nipple reconstruction, and revisions into separate surgeries. When the procedure is complete, we will close the incisions and wrap your breasts for recovery. We will take you to a recovery room and monitor your condition as the anesthesia wears off.


You may feel soreness and discomfort in your treatment area for up to several weeks after your implant reconstruction procedure. Dr. Howard can prescribe medication to help alleviate these symptoms. You will need a substantial amount of downtime to recover. Some patients require six weeks or more before they can resume everyday activities. You should avoid strenuous physical activities and reaching upward during this time. If you have any concerns or questions during your recovery, do not hesitate to contact us.


The results of your implant reconstruction will be obscured by swelling for several months. Once the swelling goes down, you will be able to see the transformative effect of your breast implants in full. This procedure can give your breasts proper contour and symmetry, and provide the volume and physical presence that were lost with your mastectomy.

How Much Does Implant Reconstruction Cost in Chicago?

Implant-based breast reconstruction is a complicated procedure with many variables. We can provide an accurate cost estimate for your treatment at your personal consultation. To learn more about how much implant reconstruction costs with Dr. Howard, call (224) 271-4250 or visit our contact page.


Can implant reconstruction be covered by insurance? 

Implant reconstruction after mastectomy is typically covered by insurance. As per the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, insurance companies that pay for mastectomies in the United States are also obligated to pay for reconstruction surgeries. We can discuss this topic further at your consultation. 

Is breast reconstruction necessary?

You do not need to receive breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. Many patients feel that they are not ready to undergo more surgery so soon afterward. Some patients opt to wear breast prostheses on their chest in the meantime if they are concerned about their appearance. 

How long until my breasts are reconstructed?

The entire implant reconstruction process can take six months to a year or more to complete, depending on the complexities of your case. The initial reconstruction and the nipple reconstruction are sometimes broken up into separate surgeries, as well as additional surgeries for potential revisions of your results. These surgeries are typically spaced several months apart. 


  1. Regan JP, Schaffner AD. Breast Reconstruction Expander Implant. PubMed. Published 2023. 
  2. Regan JP, Casaubon JT. Breast Reconstruction. PubMed. Published 2022.