Breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women each year. During treatment, a mastectomy may be performed to remove the breast containing the cancerous tissue. Sometimes a prophylactic mastectomy is indicated on the opposite breast as well. This leaves the woman without any breast volume, shape, or symmetry. Many womecn feel less feminine after their mastectomy, saying that they feel as if their sexuality has been taken from them. Breast reconstruction using implants or free tissue transfer can successfully help women regain a level of control over their lives.
It is important for both the patient and doctor to remember that every person is unique. The method of reconstruction is tailored to each individual's requirements. Factors that may influence procedure choice include the patient’s:
Can I have my breast reconstruction at the same time as my mastectomy? Most patients can undergo breast reconstruction at the time as their mastectomy (immediate reconstruction). This would be pre-planned with your operating surgeon. In some cases, the need for chemotherapy and radiation requires the postponement of definitive breast reconstruction. Dr. Boyd works with patients who require both immediate and delayed reconstruction.
Is my breast reconstruction covered by insurance? In 1998, it became federal law that insurance companies who cover mastectomies must also cover breast reconstruction. This includes the reconstruction of the removed breast, surgery to the other breast to create symmetry, and external breast prostheses that are needed before or during reconstruction.
Will my breast implant(s) impact my treatment if my cancer returns? It is a common myth that implants will either a) cause cancer to develop or b) prevent its detection. Breast implants will not affect your remission. If your cancer does come back, your implant(s) should not cause a problem with undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. If your cancer does come back, your implant(s) should not cause a problem with undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. However the radiation may cause problems with the implants. If so, Dr. Boyd will advise you on your options.
Will breast reconstruction restore sensitivity to my breast(s)? Breast reconstruction does not restore sensitivity to the breast(s) or nipple(s). Over time, the skin may regain sensitivity, but it won’t feel exactly as it did before.
When can nipple reconstruction be performed? In most cases, nipple reconstruction is performed about four months after the initial surgery, which allows the breasts to have time to heal. It is often performed with other balancing and scar revision procedures to obtain the best aesthetic results possible.