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How to Choose a Breast Reconstruction Surgeon

How to Choose a Breast Reconstruction Surgeon

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Undergoing a mastectomy due to breast cancer or another medical condition can be a stressful and emotionally draining experience. For many women, reconstructing the breasts can significantly improve their self-esteem as well as their physical appearance. It is important, however, for patients to do their research when choosing a breast reconstruction surgeon. Choosing a surgeon with both experience and compassion can help make the entire reconstructive procedure easier, safer, and more effective. Below are some recommended guideline to follow to ensure your surgery is performed by a reputable breast reconstruction surgeon.

Steps that You Should Take When Choosing a Surgeon

  • View Before and After Photos. An experience surgeon should be more than willing to show you the results of their past procedures. Reviewing before and after photos can help you decide if you are pleased with the work of the surgeon
  • Listen to Recommendations. A surgeon’s reputation speaks volumes. If possible, speak to previous patients about their experience with the surgeon. You can also reference publications such as The Best Doctors in America, which designates the top doctors in a given region divided by practice area.
  • Verify Credentials. When you visit the surgeon’s office, ask to see his certifications and other credentials. Reviewing this information will ensure that the surgeon is trained in the ways they advertise.
  • Get Comfortable. Reconstructive surgery is a comprehensive and personal procedure, and it is important to feel comfortable with your surgeon and his or her staff. Pay attention to how you feel during consultations. If you are uncomfortable, if may be best to look for a difference surgeon.
  • Shop Around. It is important to know that you are not required to place your health in the hands of the first surgeon you visit. In fact, visiting multiple surgeons before deciding can be beneficial and help you gauge where you feel most comfortable.
  • Ask Questions. When it comes to your health, you can never be too certain. Use your office appointments as a time to ask questions that you have about the procedure, the results, the recovery, etc. Being an informed patient is empowering.

Other things to consider, include:

Experience

One of the most important elements to consider when choosing a surgeon for your reconstructive procedure is past experience. While the majority of plastic surgeons are trained in methods of breast reconstruction that does not guarantee that he or she has extensive experience with the procedure. Because reconstructive surgery is so personal and so delicate, it is beneficial to choose a surgeon who has helped previous cancer patients. Surgeons with experience in this area are not only skilled in the various surgical procedures, but are more apt to provide the support that is necessary during this time. These surgeons are sensitive to the needs and desires of post-cancer patients and can make the entire process more comfortable.

Board Certification

The surgeon you select should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In addition, you may want to determine if your surgeon is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which requires its members to attend regular medical education courses and follow a strict code of ethics.

Training

It is a good idea to choose a surgeon who not only specializes in reconstructive surgery, but is also trained and experienced in the specific type of surgery you wish to undergo. TRAM flap, latissimus dorsi, gluteal flap, DIEP flap, and implant reconstruction all require specific skills. Choosing a surgeon who is knowledgeable about the exact procedure you will be receiving will help ensure the success of the surgery.

Open Communication

Above all, your surgeon should be honest with you about your expected results, the risks of surgery, and its limitations. If a surgeon paints an overly-simple picture of the breast reconstruction procedure, he or she is probably leaving out some pretty important details. It is also highly desirable that your surgeon works closely with other medical professionals at the hospital or clinic where he or she resides. Most importantly, if you don’t feel comfortable voicing questions or concerns with the breast reconstruction surgeons you have interviewed so far, keep looking.

Many Patients Want to Know

Should Cost Factor into My Decision?

Although cost does need to be considered before undergoing any type of surgery, it should not play a main role in choosing your surgeon- especially when it comes to breast reconstruction. Federal law mandates that insurance groups which cover a mastectomy must offer coverage for breast reconstruction procedures.

Contact a Plastic Surgeon

Contact a plastic surgeon to find out if breast reconstruction is right for you.

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