The words breast cancer are two of the most dreaded and feared words that a woman can hear. Yet for one in eight American women, hearing these words spoken by their doctor will become a horrifying reality at some point in their life.
Fortunately, improved screening for breast cancer, an increased awareness of the importance of regular self-checks of the breasts and advanced technology and treatment for breast cancer make surviving breast cancer increasingly common.
If you're one of the many women who has heard those dreaded words and successfully fought breast cancer, then you no doubt feel incredibly lucky to be alive. However, even after successful treatment, you may still be recovering psychologically from the emotional and physical impact of your treatment and recovery.
As well as dealing with the emotional impact of being confronted with your own mortality and the intense disruption to your normal life and future plans, you may still be dealing with the loss of one or both breasts due to a partial or double mastectomy.
Although this radical surgery is often the only option in the fight to beat breast cancer, it can still leave you in a state of mourning for your breasts and the unfamiliarity you feel with your body.
For these reasons, you may be considering breast reconstruction surgery. This surgery is carried out by a plastic surgeon and involves creating new breasts with implants or by using tissue taken from another part of your body. If you're considering breast reconstruction surgery, here are three commonly asked questions about the procedure.
1. HOW SOON AFTER MASTECTOMY CAN A BREAST RECONSTRUCTION BE PERFORMED?
Some women are able to have their breast reconstruction surgery performed at the same time as their mastectomy. Often, this doesn't happen because of the nature of the mastectomy or because the patient may not have been emotionally ready to consider her post-cancer options regarding her breasts.
Generally, breast reductions can be performed at any time after you've recovered from surgery and any adjuvant therapy such as chemotherapy or radiation, even if your mastectomy was years ago. The best time for your breast reconstruction is when you are feeling ready for the procedure both physically and emotionally.
2. WHAT TYPE OF RECONSTRUCTION IS BEST FOR ME?
The best kind of reconstruction for you will largely depend on the type of cancer you had, the extent of the skin and tissue that was removed and your personal feelings about the method used to create your new breasts. It's important to speak to your chosen plastic surgeon about what options are suitable before you can make an informed decision.
Your surgeon will give you comprehensive information about the procedure, the likely results and the risks involved with each option. They can also help you to understand the after-surgery care and long-term impacts of your reconstruction options on your continuing good health and your ability to screen for and detect a recurrence of your breast cancer in the future.
3.WILL MY RECONSTRUCTION BE COVERED BY MY MEDICAL INSURANCE?
If your mastectomy was covered by your medical insurance, then by federal law the insurance company must also pay for breast reconstruction surgery. If your medical coverage is provided by Medicare or Medicaid, then your breast reconstruction may not be covered or may be covered only in certain scenarios with stricter guidelines than with other medical insurers.
If your insurance won't cover the procedure, then there are still affordable and accessible financial options you can use to cover the cost of surgery. Many surgeons are associated with specialized medical financing companies that provide low-interest financing for medical procedures.
The first step in planning your breast reconstruction surgery is to make an appointment with a respected and experienced plastic surgeon. Dr. James E. Murphy of Murphy Plastic Surgery and Medical Spa in Reno, NV, has extensive experience in breast surgery. Contact his office to book a consultation and find out about the best options for your breast reconstruction surgery.