Is breast reconstruction surgery an option for you? How does your cancer affect the possibilities of getting reconstruction surgery? Find out the details and alternative options here.
Myths Around Breast Reconstruction
Let’s clear out the misconceptions before we jump into addressing the risks of the surgery, after-care, and alternatives.
Immediate Breast Reconstruction!
Reconstruction surgery is a lengthy process. Advertisements titled “Immediate Reconstruction!” usually refer to starting the process earlier following a mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost?
Yes! Breast augmentation and reconstruction are two different surgeries. While augmentation is done for beautification, reconstruction is not. The Federal Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 states that any insurance that covers a mastectomy should also cover breast reconstruction surgery.
Is Breast Reconstruction Permanent?
Implants are devices and they can break, rupture, or disintegrate over a period. Thus, aftercare and maintenance is a lifelong commitment post-reconstruction surgery. Implants may need to be adjusted or replaced with changes in physique. Hence, you will always require medical attention over your lifetime.
Is Radiation Therapy Possible Post Surgery?
Unlike natural breasts, implants don’t allow radiation to penetrate through your cells. Therefore, complications will arise post-reconstruction if your cancer was to relapse.
Are All Patients Eligible for Surgery?
No, breast and plastic surgeons will always evaluate the patient’s health and the severity of cancer before they place you under the knife. Here are a few common factors that will influence the decision of surgeons:
- Queries relating to the stage of breast cancer
- Overall health
- Will you be able to take care of yourself during the extensive recovery period?
Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgery
At present, surgeons use several techniques to perform the two primary types of surgery. The success of the surgery depends on the surgeon’s experience and technique used. Thus, a second opinion is always recommended before you fix the date.
Surgeons place a saline or silicone gal bag in the shape of your natural breasts that can last up to 10 years. Saline implant ruptures are noticeable while a silicon rupture can be found only through an MRI.
On the other hand, silicone implants feel more natural than saline. Current technologies have made implant materials safer than before.
Also known as the “flap reconstruction” this method involves using the patient’s own tissues from the tummy, inner thighs, or buttocks to reconstruct a new breast. They feel natural, aid lactating mothers, are low-maintenance, and don’t obstruct blood flow.
However, most women don’t qualify for an autologous reconstruction due to low body fat and other health concerns.
Questions to Ask
It is important to get answers to these questions before you plan to proceed into surgery:
- What type of surgery and techniques are recommended for you?
- What are the post-surgery requirements?
- What are the complications of the surgery?
- How to handle scarring post-surgery?
- Potential side effects and risks associated with you given your family history
- Is cancer treatment possible post-surgery?
Going flat, using padded bras with breast prostheses are the only alternative options if you don’t want to go under a knife. At the end of the day, it all depends on what is best for you.