October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and In 2022 an estimated 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United States. Once a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer a mastectomy or lumpectomy will be recommended as part of their treatment, and many women will consider reconstructive surgery to rebuild their breasts. Choosing a highly qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon who can expertly perform this complex surgery is essential for ensuring optimal results. Separating fact from fiction when it comes to the risks and benefits is also essential to making informed shared decisions about care.
There are many myths surrounding breast reconstruction that can complicate decision-making. One of the best ways to ensure you are given factual information and that you will ultimately be happy with the results of your reconstruction is to choose a reputable, highly experienced, plastic surgeon. Several of our plastic surgeons here at Polyclinic Plastic Surgery Center in Seattle are experts in the most cutting-edge breast implant-based and tissue-based breast reconstruction procedures.
Below, we have listed 5 common myths in regard to breast reconstruction. We hope this will help you distinguish fact from fiction as well as help you navigate the decision-making process to help make your choices easier.
1. Breast reconstruction increases the chance of cancer recurring and makes a recurrence harder to detect.
Several studies have been conducted over the years that show there is no evidence that breast reconstruction increases the risk of recurrence or makes a recurrence more challenging to detect and treat.
The risk of breast cancer recurrence involves many factors that are dependent upon the stage and biological characteristics of each woman’s particular cancer. As part of a thorough evaluation, your plastic surgeon will assess your level of risk as well as your preferences before recommending the best option for your reconstruction.
2. Reconstructed breasts won’t look natural.
Thanks to advances in plastic surgery, today’s breast reconstruction techniques have evolved in such a way that it may be difficult to distinguish reconstructed breasts from a woman’s original breasts. Breast implants have come a long way since their inception. New materials and improved techniques have resulted in reconstructed breasts that look and feel more natural than they have in the past. Some women feel that their reconstructed breasts look even better than their original ones did. Those who opt to use their own tissue to reconstruct may find that their breasts feel even more natural as compared to how they may feel with implants.
We offer implant-based reconstruction with both saline and silicone implants in an array of shapes, sizes, and profiles to best match each patient’s unique body type. In addition, our board-certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Cindy Wei and Dr. Keith Paige, also offer tissue-based autologous flap reconstruction (DIEP) for women who prefer to use their own tissue to reshape their breasts.
3. There is always a waiting period after your mastectomy before breast reconstruction can begin.
This is not always the case. Some women are candidates to begin reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomy. This is called immediate reconstruction. Others may opt to delay reconstruction until after their cancer treatment is complete. Either way, breast reconstruction is not typically a one-and-done procedure. The process usually involves more than one surgery and can be done either at the time of initial cancer treatment or even years later if preferred. The timing of your reconstruction is a personal choice that is decided on after collaboration between you and your plastic surgeon.
4. Breast reconstruction will only involve one surgery.
Most women will typically require a few surgeries to complete their breast reconstruction. The number of procedures will depend upon a variety of factors including the type of reconstruction you choose, your individual recovery, and your goals.
5. Breast reconstruction surgery is expensive.
Fortunately, federal law requires insurance to cover breast reconstruction surgery in most cases. In 1998, Congress passed the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, which requires group and individual health plans to cover breast reconstruction surgeries if they cover mastectomies as part of their coverage. This critical law benefits women who are facing a breast cancer diagnosis and protects their rights to the availability of breast reconstruction if their insurance covers mastectomies. Check with your insurance provider to understand your coverage as well as any out-of-pocket costs that may be associated with surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are considering breast reconstruction surgery we understand that it’s an emotional experience and we would love to help you on your road to recovery. We have a great deal of empathy for women facing a breast cancer diagnosis and understand the challenges and decisions that come with navigating that. Several of our board-certified plastic surgeons are experts in breast reconstruction and are committed to providing each of our patients with personalized, compassionate care every step of the way.
If you’d like to learn more call us today to schedule a consultation. We’d love to meet you! 206.860.5582