Aesthetic Flat Closure + Recovery

With all the options for breast reconstruction out there, it is so easy to become overwhelmed. These are major surgeries we are talking about, and each option carries its own unique surgical recovery timeline. Implant and flap based reconstructions dominate the headlines, but there is one sneaky option available that is completely undervalued and frankly under-advertised. In fact, this option is not even mentioned on the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s website as an option for breast reconstruction. So what is it? This great pathway is known as the aesthetic flat closure. 

Aesthetic Flat Closure (AFC)  is an EXCELLENT and valid option for breast reconstruction. While the words “flat” and “reconstruction” are rarely used in conjunction, AFC is a real avenue for insurance based chest reconstruction and is rapidly increasing in popularity. Roughly 20% of women undergoing bilateral mastectomy and 40% of women undergoing unilateral mastectomy are opting to live the flat life, and that number only appears to be trending upwards.

When you opt for a flat closure, the focus shifts from rebuilding breast mounds to restoring the natural shape of your chest wall. Excess skin and fat are removed and the plastic surgeon focuses on nipping and tucking to tighten and smooth the contours of the chest to result in a flat and natural appearance. 

Recovery after a flat closure is about as straightforward as it gets. Without breast mound reconstruction the muscle interruption and tissue manipulation of the surrounding areas are minimal. If aesthetic flat closure is done at the time of the mastectomy it will likely take a good 2-3 weeks before drains can be removed and mobility and energy start to return to functional levels. If mastectomy is done first and AFC is completed at a later date (weeks to months later), it is safe to expect a 1-2 week recovery with minimal disruptions in activities of daily living. Without formal reconstruction of breast mounds a flat closure is considered “skin surgery” and significantly decreases the energy demand that healing places on the body. 


After a mastectomy, the decision for whether or not you should pursue breast reconstruction is a highly personal one. Nobody can make that decision for you. The advancements made in breast reconstruction over the past decade are impressive, but the process is far from a walk in the park. Recovery timelines, additional therapies needed (radiation), your baseline activity level, and your appetite for surgery are all factors to consider when making your decision. 


If the aesthetic flat closure option sounds appealing or if this is the first you are even healing from it, get additional information by checking out this website, reading this story or viewing these photo examples here. Information is power and knowing all the options on the table and what the recovery period looks like for each surgical option is a great way to gain confidence in your decisions. Go into surgery with confidence and come out prepared to heal. You’ve got this! 

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