Picking the Right Plane: A Comparison of Total Submuscular, Dual-Plane, and Prepectoral Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2022 Oct 1;150(4):737e-746e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000009537. Epub 2022 Jul 22.


Background: Implant-based breast reconstruction has evolved, with a recent resurgence of prepectoral techniques. Comparative reconstructive outcomes and complications have not been elucidated fully among the total submuscular, dual-plane, and prepectoral planes of implant placement.

Methods: All immediate implant-based breast reconstructions from March of 2017 through August of 2019 were reviewed retrospectively. Cases were divided into total submuscular, dual-plane, and prepectoral cohorts. Demographics, operative techniques, and reconstructive outcomes and complications were compared among groups.

Results: A total of 826 cases (510 patients) were identified and divided into total submuscular ( n = 392), dual-plane ( n = 358), and prepectoral ( n = 76) cohorts. Average follow-up for all patients was 27 months. The prepectoral cohort had a higher average body mass index and rate of previous reduction or mastopexy. Overall complications were lowest in the total submuscular group, although this difference was not statistically significant. Major infection occurred more frequently in the dual-plane group compared with the total submuscular cohort. The prepectoral cohort had a significantly increased incidence of wound dehiscence than the total submuscular group; both the dual-plane and prepectoral groups had higher rates of seroma formation and explantation compared with the total submuscular group.

Conclusions: Overall reconstructive complication rates were comparable among the cohorts. Compared with those undergoing total submuscular reconstruction, the dual-plane cohort was more likely to develop a major infection or require explantation, whereas the prepectoral group had significantly higher rates of isolated dehiscence, seroma formation, and explantation. This suggests that the absence of overlying vascularized muscle may lead to an inherent inability to tolerate wound-healing complications, although further research is needed to clarify these observations. .

Clinical question/level of evidence: Therapeutic, III.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Implantation* / adverse effects
  • Breast Implantation* / methods
  • Breast Implants* / adverse effects
  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty* / adverse effects
  • Mammaplasty* / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seroma / epidemiology
  • Seroma / etiology