Is breast reconstruction for me? Am I a candidate for breast reconstruction? What type of breast reconstruction is available? Is breast cancer reconstruction after mastectomy covered by insurance? These are all questions that are frequently asked by patients. Dr. Mabourakh, a board certified plastic surgeon in Sacramento area will try to answer these questions.
We have come a long way in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Now more than ever it is important to follow routine guidelines for mammograms to screen for breast cancer. Early detection is the key to high cure rates in breast cancer. Once diagnosis of breast cancer is made, patients are faced with the reality that “I have breast cancer”. Anxiety, fear, depression are all normal responses to this devastating news, but there is hope and great treatments available.
After the initial diagnosis appointments are made with multiple specialists including, a general surgeon, oncologist and radiation therapist. This is usually all arranged by the primary care physician or the general surgeon. All these physicians are concerned with obtaining the best outcome for the patient. The one thing that may sometimes be missed is an appointment with a board certified plastic surgeon to discuss reconstructive options. Reconstruction does not deal directly with treatment outcome, but may be extremely important for patient’s emotional recovery and sense of being whole again. There is also a time factor, once the diagnosis is made surgical treatment is planned as soon as possible, therefore there is little time to wait to consider reconstructive options.
If you think you may be interested in reconstruction, ask your physician for a referral to a plastic surgeon. During the consultation you will learn your options for reconstruction after breast cancer surgery. Dr. Mabourakh is a board certified plastic surgeon in the Sacramento area with over 20 years experience in breast reconstruction surgery.
What are my options for breast cancer reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is a process that may take multiple procedures to complete and may take up to a year to complete depending on the type of reconstruction you and your plastic surgeon choose.
Immediate vs.delayed breast reconstruction.
The first questions to answer is are you interested in reconstruction to be started at the same time as the mastectomy? Does your general surgeon believe in immediate reconstruction? Not all surgeons agree with immediate reconstruction for many reasons. Discuss this with your surgeon. The advantage of immediate reconstruction is that the process is started early and there is one less surgery to go through. Immediate reconstruction requires a working relationship between the general surgeon and the plastic surgeon. With delayed reconstruction, the process is started after mastectomy is fully healed, which is usually 3 to 6 months. If chemotherapy is required this will also further delay the start of reconstruction.
What types of breast reconstruction is available?
There are two types of reconstruction available for mastectomy patients, either us of implants or use of patients own tissues. Wit implant reconstruction an expander is first placed through the mastectomy scar. This breast tissue expander is filled with saline over period of time to allow for placement of a permanent implant. The procedures are short and usually performed as out-patient.
With use of patient’s own tissues the procedure is much longer and performed as in-patient surgery in a hospital setting. The recovery for this procedure is also much longer than implant type reconstruction. there are many different types of tissue reconstruction, your plastic surgeon will review the pros and cons of different types of procedures.
Is breast reconstruction covered by insurance?
In California breast reconstruction after mastectomy for breast cancer is a covered benefit. There may be some restrictions you will need to check with your insurance carrier. Dr. Mabourakh’s office has been working with most major insurance companies including HMO plans, and the staff are experienced in obtaining prior authorizations. Contact our office with any questions regarding breast reconstruction after breast cancer.