If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, the decisions involved may seem overwhelming at times. Breast reconstruction can play an important role in the recovery and healing process. When women tell me that they’re considering breast reconstruction at my Long Island area practice, I make sure to help them understand 5 key facts about this procedure:
- The Federal Breast Reconstruction Law requires group health insurance plans to provide coverage for reconstruction of the breast on which a mastectomy has been performed, as well as surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance.
- Your breast reconstruction options include having the reconstruction at the time of mastectomy or choosing to delay reconstruction until after the mastectomy. Ask your surgeon to help you decide which option is best for you.
- Depending on your surgeon, you may be able to select an autogenous method, which involves using your body’s own tissue, as in the TRAM or “tummy tuck” flap.
- If you opt for immediate reconstruction at the time of your mastectomy, you may be able to select either saline or silicone breast implants. Tissue expanders, followed by reconstructive breast implants, also provide an option in some cases.
- After your breast reconstruction surgery, medication can be used to minimize any pain or discomfort. In most cases, any stitches or drains or stitches can be removed within a week to 10 days. Although the surgery cannot fully restore normal sensation to the breast tissue, the scars will fade greatly over time.
For women preparing for mastectomy as well as those who have had a mastectomy and are now considering breast reconstruction, I view restoring their self-image as an important aspect of recovery. My hope is that by helping them understand their options and providing them with information, I can empower them to choose a decision that’s right for them.