What is the SWIM technique?

The SWIM mastectomy technique stands for skin-sparing, wise pattern, internal mammary perforator.

SWIM breast reconstruction surgery before and after results in LAIt is a revolutionary breast reconstruction procedure that does NOT require any breast implants or free flaps. Dr. Lisa Cassileth created this low-risk breast reconstruction technique inspired by Dr. Heather Richardson’s published no implant/breast mound procedure, the Goldilocks mastectomy.

History of the SWIM Technique

This innovative breast cancer treatment option was first developed as the Goldilocks mastectomy –a breast cancer treatment option that removes unhealthy breast gland tissue while preserving healthy tissue and skin. Co-developed by our very own Dr. Richardson, Goldilocks mastectomy leaves a patient with a smaller breast with no nipple present instead of a lack of one after a mastectomy, providing the best possible immediate outcome in a single procedure with minimal downtime. 

Dr. Cassileth and Dr. Richardson advanced the technique further, allowing the nipple to be preserved and recruit more local fat into the area. The method enables a natural-appearing breast reconstruction procedure that resembles a breast reduction. However, the approach achieves more than a standard reduction because it serves as a complete nipple-sparing mastectomy. To learn more about the SWIM technique for breast reconstruction, please visit pubmed.gov.

What is the difference between the SWIM technique and a traditional mastectomy?

The main difference between the SWIM technique and a traditional mastectomy is the approach SWIM uses to reconstruct more natural-looking breasts. The SWIM technique does not involve implants or tissue transfer techniques. Instead, the SWIM technique utilizes the remaining healthy breast tissue, leaving the patient with smaller, natural breasts and a superior cosmetic result. 

Advantages of the SWIM Technique

There are several advantages to the SWIM technique. These include:

  • May be performed on one or both breasts
  • May be performed for prophylactic mastectomy 
  • Does not require additional surgeries 
  • Does not use implants or artificial devices
  • Offers greater comfort and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional breast reconstruction
  • Provides an excellent option for patients who are not ideal candidates for or do not prefer traditional breast reconstruction
  • Offers additional benefits for patients with extremely large or sagging breasts 

Additionally, surgical removal of breast gland under the skin means:

  • No screening mammograms required
  • Depending on breast cancer status, most patients do not require radiation

Who is a Candidate for the SWIM Technique?

Stock image of a female patient during a consultation with a doctor for a webpage about SWIM reconstructive surgery in Beverly Hills, CAWomen with large breasts who need a mastectomy often have minimal options for breast reconstruction presented to them. Doctors often recommend a tissue expander or a perforator flap procedure. We developed the SWIM technique especially for large-breasted women who want natural-looking breasts after mastectomy. 

Any patient who prefers to avoid implant reconstruction, flap reconstruction (such as DIEP flap or TRAM flap), extensive incisions, a long recovery time, or multiple procedures does have another choice. Many may achieve a more satisfying aesthetic result and a more comfortable experience from a SWIM technique compared to a traditional mastectomy. Since the SWIM technique does not involve as many risks as traditional reconstruction, patients who discover they are not good breast reconstruction candidates because of health issues, weight, or radiation injury may also benefit from the SWIM technique.

How is the SWIM Technique Performed at our Medical Center?

At our Beverly Hills medical center, we perform the SWIM breast reconstruction surgery as one procedure in two stages. First, we carefully remove all breast tissue in the mastectomy portion of the procedure, preserving the skin and subcutaneous fat.

During the second stage, the reconstruction step, we fold the extra fat in stacks to create the appearance of a new breast. No muscle is cut or removed from donor sites, and no abdominal, back, or buttock tissue is transferred. The remaining skin and fat create a new, smaller breast. If extra skin is present lateral to the breast, often called the “dog ear,” we will also use this fat under the breast before removing excess skin. The final result is a breast that appears smaller than the original, with scars similar to a breast reduction procedure.

Schedule A Consultation With Our Breast Specialists Today

Going through a mastectomy or a breast reconstruction procedure is a challenging experience. We believe women deserve a breast cancer team who can understand women and make them feel healthy and beautiful. If a mastectomy is your breast cancer treatment option, give us a call. Bedford Breast Center was created by women for women and offers superior mastectomy results in Los Angeles, CA. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact one of our medical center today.