While two stage tissue expander-implant reconstruction is the most common way of reconstructing a breast, with the introduction of tissue matrices single stage reconstruction has become possible.

What is a tissue matrix?
It is made from skin of pig or calf that has been specially prepared to be accepted by the human body.

How is it used?
It is used in immediate breast reconstruction, when a skin sparing mastectomy is performed. The matrix acts as an extension of the chest muscle (the pectoralis major), enabling the full cover of the implant. Without the matrix only the upper part of the implant is covered by muscle and the lower part would be in direct contact with skin.

Can it always be used?
This type of procedure can be done safely in those with small or medium sized breasts. Furthermore the skin envelope must be healthy providing a good recipient of the matrix. If the skin envelope is too thin or if there are associated medical factors that adversely affect wound-healing, such as smoking or diabetes, then a two stage procedure is recommended. 

What is the benefit?
Using such a matrix allows single stage implant reconstruction. It has been shown that it does reduce capsular contracture. Furthermore it gives a better cosmetic result.

What are the risk factors?
The most important risk factor is infection, which could lead to non-integration of the matrix and therefore possible extrusion of the implant.