Answering Frequently Asked Questions about Breast Reconstruction
According to the American Cancer Society, as many as one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and for many of these women treatment may involve a mastectomy, or the surgical removal of one or both breasts. Although not a necessity, most women who have undergone this procedure also choose to undergo surgical breast reconstruction afterwards as a way to help restore their appearance and regain a sense of femininity. Ever since it was founded by breast reconstruction pioneer Dr. Carl Hartrampf in 1968, Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. has been considered one of the nation’s leaders in reconstructive breast surgery, and over our nearly fifty year history we have helped thousands of women take their lives back with this life-affirming procedure. In an effort to help educate women about what breast reconstruction can do for them, here are answers to some of the more common questions about Breast Reconstruction that we hear at our Atlanta Plastic Surgery practice.
Is Breast Reconstruction considered cosmetic surgery or is it covered by insurance?
According to the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA), all insurance providers that offer mastectomy coverage must also provide coverage for certain services related to the mastectomy in a manner agreed upon in consultation with the patient and attending physician. This mandated coverage includes all stages of reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy was performed, surgical reconstruction of the other breast to create symmetrical appearance, necessary prostheses, and treatment of any physical complications that may result.
What options are available in Breast Reconstruction?
There are essentially two different types of breast reconstruction: autologous breast reconstruction and implant breast reconstruction. The former, which includes TRAM flap and DIEP flap procedures, uses the patient’s own fat, skin, and tissue taken from other areas of the body to reconstruct the breast, while the latter involves the use of a saline or silicone breast implant, just as would be used in breast augmentation surgery. During your initial consultation, one of our board certified plastic surgeons will discuss which of the several different approaches will be best for you, based on your body type, past medical history, and ultimate aesthetic goals.
When is the best time to undergo Breast Reconstruction surgery?
Breast reconstruction can either be performed at the same time as the mastectomy or months or even years later, depending on the individual needs and preferences of the patient. Many different factors, including the patient’s general health, the stage of cancer, and the amount of available tissue, all play a role in determining which option is preferable, and your doctor will be able to help you determine which treatment course will be most beneficial for you.
What is Oncoplastic Breast Reconstruction?
Oncoplastic Breast Reconstruction is designed to remove cancerous cell growths and affected tissue within the breast while simultaneously refining the appearance of the remaining tissue to present the least amount of disruption physically, mentally, and emotionally following breast cancer. By blending reconstructive and cosmetic techniques, oncoplastic surgery strives to minimize the amount of breast revision surgery necessary to reestablish a normalized appearance.
The long-term implications of living without a breast or part of one affect every woman differently, and the choice of whether or not to undergo breast reconstruction surgery is ultimately a very personal one. If you are interested in talking to one of our board-certified plastic surgeons about your options in breast reconstruction, or in learning about the variety of financing options, including Alphaeon® and CareCredit®, that we can provide in order to assist you, please contact Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. at one of our Atlanta, Alpharetta, Cumming, or Newnan offices.