Many patients diagnosed with breast cancer undergo a breast removal procedure called a mastectomy. Women who have undergone mastectomy can choose to receive breast reconstruction surgery to restore the appearance of the missing breast or breasts. Reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy can help renew a woman’s sense of femininity and beauty by recreating both the size and shape of the natural breast. Below is a general overview of breast reconstruction, for more detailed information we invite you to explore our breast reconstruction section.
Breast Reconstruction Candidates
The best candidates for breast cancer reconstruction surgery are those who have had one or both breasts removed through mastectomy. Women who are in general good health, have coped well with previous cancer treatment and diagnosis, and have realistic expectations regarding the procedure are ideal candidates. Those who are obese, have high blood pressure, or smoke may be advised to wait before having breast reconstruction surgery. Learn more about what makes a good breast reconstruction candidate.
Breast Reconstruction Costs
Breast reconstruction costs will vary significantly based on a number of factors, including the patients specific health needs, the technique being used during the procedure, geographic location of where the procedure is being performed, and the surgeon’s experience. Fortunately, there are options for paying for surgery. Under the Women’s Health Rights and Cancer Act of 1998, insurance companies, group health plans, and health maintenance organization that offer mastectomy coverage must also provide coverage for reconstruction of the breast. Any out-of-pocket costs related to surgery can usually be financed through a surgeon or third-party company such as CareCredit®. Speak to your insurance company and your surgeon to learn more about breast reconstruction costs.
Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Reconstructive breast surgery is a major surgery that often requires more than one procedure. Patients may choose to receive breast reconstruction at the same time as mastectomy or wait until they have healed. Reconstruction falls into two categories: breast implants or flap reconstructions. The former involves placing silicone or saline breast implants beneath the chest muscle. Flap reconstructions (TRAM flap, DIEP flap, latissimus dorsi flap, and gluteal flap) remove muscle, fat, or skin from another part of the body to reconstruct the breasts. While flap methods generally require more recovery time, they produce breasts that feel and age more naturally than breast implants.
Breast Reconstruction Recovery
After breast reconstruction, the patient’s reconstructed breast is typically covered with dressings that must be changed regularly, or with adhesive strips that remain in place until the wound has healed. Full recovery should be expected within six to eight weeks, provided the patient follows instructions for post-operative care. In addition to physical recovery, many women need time for emotional healing and to adjust to their new body. Learn more about breast reconstruction recovery.
Breast Reconstruction Benefits and Risks
Women who undergo breast reconstruction are often very happy with the results of surgery. Rebuilding the breast can improve the patient’s shape, and help them regain their sense of beauty and femininity. As with all surgeries, however, there are risks associated with breast reconstruction. Issues such as infection or bleeding can hinder healing time. It is important to discuss all possible risks and side effects with a qualified physician. Learn more about breast reconstruction complications and benefits.
Breast Reconstruction Results
Although the reconstructed breast will never feel or look exactly like a patient’s natural breast, the results of surgery can be very satisfying. After surgery, patients have an improved silhouette and can feel more comfortable in certain clothing. It is important to note, however, that scars are inevitable after breast reconstruction surgery. Learn more about the results of breast reconstruction surgery.
Have a Question?
DocShop provides an informative breast reconstruction surgery FAQs page that addresses the most common questions patients have about the many aspects of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. Our FAQs page provides a good starting point for those seeking a concise overview of reconstructive surgery. Contact a plastic surgeon for more information about breast reconstruction.