Breast reconstruction surgery involves the surgical correction of deformities or asymmetries of your breasts after either complete mastectomy or partial mastectomy or lumpectomy. A 1998 Federal law mandates that your health insurance, which covers the cancer treatment, also cover the surgeries which can help you achieve better symmetry. This means that if you have had a lumpectomy (partial mastectomy) and radiation, and as a result your breasts are not even, then your insurance is mandated to cover the breast lift, breast reduction or even breast augmentation including fat grafting to help your breasts look more similar.
This is also true if you have had a complete mastectomy. The reconstructive efforts can start at the same time as your initial cancer treatment. This is called immediate reconstruction. While there are some reconstructive options which limit your surgeries to one or two. It is more usual to have a staged reconstruction involving 3-4 surgeries over the course of 9-12 months. This is more likely if you need your nipple reconstructed. Sometimes however, there can be good reasons to delay reconstruction. This is especially true if you have many other health issues which increase your risk of serious complications.
Knowledge is power…know your options about Breast Reconstruction before you start your Breast Cancer treatment.
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Breast Reconstruction FAQs
The goal of breast reconstruction is to restore one or both breasts to near normal shape, appearance, symmetry and size following mastectomy, lumpectomy or congenital deformities.
Breast reconstruction often involves multiple procedures performed in stages and can either begin at the time of mastectomy or be delayed until a later date.
Breast reconstruction generally falls into two categories: implant-based reconstruction or flap reconstruction. Implant reconstruction relies on breast implants to help form a new breast mound. Flap (or autologous) reconstruction uses the patient’s own tissue from another part of the body to form a new breast.
If only one breast is affected, it alone may be reconstructed. In addition, a breast lift, breast reduction or breast augmentation may be recommended for the opposite breast to improve symmetry of the size, shape and position of both breasts.
Many women falsely believe that if they have a lumpectomy and radiation, that they will not need, or are not candidates for, reconstruction. Many are told not to “worry” about that. Being educated about your options is not a worry. Being informed is being empowered to make the right decision for yourself. Newer advances in the treatment of smaller breast cancers, result in a reshaping of your breast at the same time of the cancer lump removal. This is called “oncoplastic” surgery. Oncoplastic surgery applies breast reduction principles to the surgical planning so you would have no scars in the “V” section of your neckline and your scars would be hidden by most clothing and bathing suits. Our experience is that by reshaping the breast immediately after the lumpectomy, there is less chance of a “sunken cupcake” deformity after your radiation. The same federal law that covers breast reconstruction after total mastectomy, covers the surgeries involved to help you to optimize your breast symmetry following lumpectomy and radiation. That means insurance will pay for the breast reduction, lift and augmentation (including fat grafting) that is needed on either side because of your diagnosis of breast cancer.