Unilateral Tissue Expander/Implant Two-Stage Breast Reconstruction with the Assistance of Three-Dimensional Surface Imaging

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In China, traditional preoperative planning of unilateral breast reconstruction mainly depends on anthropometric measurement and visual assessment. Thus, the lack of objective assessment of breast volume and shape would likely result in suboptimal reconstruction outcomes. Three-dimensional surface imaging (3D-SI), which could provide objective measurement data of the breast, may be a promising solution to this problem.


A retrospective review of patients undergoing tissue expander (TE)/implant breast reconstruction without any mammoplasty surgery on the contralateral sides in our hospital from August 2013 to May 2018 was performed. All the patients underwent unilateral mastectomy with immediate or delayed insertion of TE, followed by an exchange of a silicone gel implant without contralateral procedures. 3D images were obtained at the time of preoperation, the routine expansion visit, and post-exchange of implant. The breast volume measured by 3D-SI served as a guide to conduct the surgery management, such as in deciding the total volume of expansion and guiding the final implant size selection. 3D-SI also provided objective data to evaluate the final outcomes of the reconstruction.


Fifty-one patients were included in this study, in which eighteen patients underwent immediate TE insertion and thirty-three patients underwent delayed TE insertion. The ptosis degree of contralateral breasts was assessed as follows: forty-four were normal, and seven showed mild ptosis. The average expansion degree was controlled at 161.6% ± 14.1% compared to the contralateral breasts. The volume of implants exchanged had a strong linear correlation with the 3D volume of the contralateral breasts at the end of expansion (P < 0.01). The mean time of follow-up was 9.1 ± 6.6 months. There was only one patient who experienced TE leakage with secondary infection and received TE exchange. For the immediate reconstruction group, the overall breast symmetry improved at the completion of implant exchange (P < 0.01), with an average asymmetry of 5.3% ± 4.0% compared with 10.6% ± 6.1% initially. For the delayed reconstruction group, the reconstructed side achieved good volume symmetry to the contralateral side (P > 0.05). There was no significant difference in breast basal width between bilateral breasts post-reconstruction (P > 0.05).


3D-SI serves as a valuable adjunct by providing accurate 3D volume of breasts within TE/implant breast reconstruction in Chinese patients without obvious breast ptosis, which could facilitate surgeons to achieve good reconstructive outcomes.

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Correspondence to Bi Li.

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All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the participating institutions and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Ma, J., Xia, Y., Li, B. et al. Unilateral Tissue Expander/Implant Two-Stage Breast Reconstruction with the Assistance of Three-Dimensional Surface Imaging. Aesth Plast Surg 44, 60–69 (2020) doi:10.1007/s00266-019-01513-3

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  • Tissue expander
  • Implant
  • Two-stage
  • Breast reconstruction
  • Three-dimensional surface imaging