A significant part of plastic surgery is dedicated to restoring patients to a more normal appearance following surgery for cancer, trauma, accidents, or birth defects. While aesthetic surgery is aimed at improving the appearance of normal structures, reconstructive surgery focuses on rebuilding a normal structure after it has been damaged by an accident or following cancer removal. Dr. Andrew Cohen, MD has trained under surgeons who developed many of these reconstructive procedures including the simplification of tissue transfers, microsurgery, and the extensive area of cranio-facial surgery that are now practiced worldwide.
- What Is Breast Reconstruction?
- Breast Reconstruction Options
- Delayed vs. Immediate Breast Reconstruction
- Breast Reconstruction Recovery
- Breast Reconstruction Cost
What Is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is designed to restore a breast to its original appearance following a mastectomy for breast cancer. Although the procedure can be performed many years following breast cancer surgery, recent advancements encourage patients to undergo breast reconstruction at the time of mastectomy. Breast reconstruction often aids in both the physical and mental recovery process after a mastectomy and can help women feel like themselves again.
What Are My Breast Reconstruction Options?
Reconstructive surgery can be done using either breast implants or by transferring a patient’s own tissue, most commonly from the lower abdomen or back.
A breast implant can be used to mirror the natural breast for a natural, symmetrical appearance. When this reconstruction option is selected, Dr. Cohen will recommend an implant type and placement based upon the patient’s unique needs. For patients who select a larger implant, a tissue expansion prior to the reconstruction may be required to create more room in the breast pocket.
Fat Transfer Reconstruction
The breast can also be reconstructed using a process called fat transfer or fat grafting. This technique uses excess fat tissue from a donor area in order to recreate the breast. The excess fat is first removed with liposuction from an area such as the back, thighs, or lower abdomen. After the harvested fat is purified, it is reintroduced at the breast via injection, allowing Dr. Cohen to carefully control the volume and shape.
Dr. Cohen will help determine your best options. In some cases, a combination of these two breast reconstruction options may achieve the best results.
Delayed vs. Immediate Breast Reconstruction
There are advantages to both immediate and delayed breast reconstruction. Most women are candidates for either procedure. During your initial consultation, you and Dr. Cohen will discuss your goals and concerns as well as determine the best time for your reconstructive breast surgery.
Immediate Breast Reconstruction
The primary benefit of immediate breast reconstruction is waking up from your mastectomy with your new breast already in place. This can help alleviate a sense of loss or the shock of having only one breast. Patients with advanced stages of breast cancer may not be eligible for immediate breast reconstruction. In addition, radiation treatments performed after this procedure may affect the initial result. Some women with a family history of breast cancer or who are BRCA gene positive may elect to have a mastectomy to lower their risk of breast cancer. These women are typically good candidates for immediate breast reconstruction.
Delayed Breast Reconstruction
With delayed breast reconstruction, patients have time after their mastectomy to complete any future radiation treatments as well as fully consider their reconstruction options. There is no time limit for delayed breast reconstruction, and women may choose to undergo the procedure at any time. As opposed to immediate breast reconstruction, patients who choose delayed reconstruction may have a secondary scar after the procedure. An additional procedure to reconstruct the nipple and areola may also be needed.
What Can I Expect in My Breast Reconstruction Recovery?
The recovery and downtime associated with breast reconstruction will vary depending upon the technique you choose with Dr. Cohen. All patients can expect mild swelling and soreness in the days immediately following surgery. This side effects typically resolve quickly, and oral pain medication can be used to manage any discomfort. Most patients will return to work or their normal daily activities within 1-2 weeks. Rigorous physical activity or lifting of heavy objects should be avoided for about six weeks. Dr. Cohen will provide more detailed recovery instructions during the consultation process, based upon your customized treatment plan.
How Much Does Breast Reconstruction Cost?
Health insurance providers typically cover the cost of mastectomy as well as breast reconstruction if the woman chooses. However, the out-of-pocket price of breast reconstruction will vary depending upon the benefits of your specific insurance plan. In addition, the personalized details of your surgery, including whether you receive immediate or delayed reconstruction and the type of reconstruction, will influence the final cost of your breast reconstruction. If you need assistance navigating the benefits of your insurance provider, please contact a member of our staff. Some patients also choose to take advantage of one of our plastic surgery financing options to help make the cost of their reconstruction fit more comfortably within their budget.