Breast cancer affects almost one in eight women in the United States. If you or a loved one are among those affected, you probably have questions and anxiety about the journey through treatment to recovery.
As detection and therapy options grow, many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are beating the disease and living longer, healthier lives. Improvements have been made in breast reconstruction as well. That’s where Charlotte Plastic Surgery can help as you navigate a return to your healthy, confident self.
Progress in breast cancer surgeries – including full and partial mastectomy or “lumpectomy” procedures – means that with more frequency, surgeons are able to spare skin and the nipple area to enhance aesthetic results.
Fortunately, there are multiple methods and options for breast reconstruction. You should discuss all of these options with your cancer surgeon as well as your plastic surgeon in order to help you choose the best surgery for you.
Breast reconstruction is broadly divided into two main categories:
Autologous reconstruction uses the patient’s natural tissues as the primary means of creating a new breast. This method involves the transfer of tissue from another part of the body – such as the lower abdomen or back – to the breast. These tissues are then sculpted into a natural-looking breast.
Device-based reconstruction uses a breast implant to restore the breast into a beautiful shape. This method is the most common today, and often is combined with additional techniques to further improve cosmetic outcomes. The process usually includes a temporary device called a tissue expander, which is used to allow breast tissues to heal from surgery with less stress, while maintaining a breast pocket that can be stretched over time to accommodate the implant.
For some women, a single-stage, “direct-to-implant” reconstruction is possible without the use of an expander. The new breast is immediately constructed with an implant, although as tissues heal and adapt to the implant, revisions are sometimes necessary.
With any method for breast reconstruction, more than one surgery may be necessary to achieve the best result possible.
At Charlotte Plastic Surgery, Dr. Jarrod Daniel specializes in breast reconstruction, working with breast cancer patients and their physicians to identify the course of treatment that will lead to the best outcome. Dr. Daniel’s expertise in treatment and reconstruction have earned respect and accolades, and he works with each patient individually, establishing a relationship that can bring you comfort and confidence during this stressful and emotional time.
To learn more about breast reconstruction and your options, we encourage you to visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Understanding Your Legal Options
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, signed into law in 1998, resulted from years of outcomes-based research on quality of life improvements and the psychological benefits seen in women who underwent breast reconstruction after breast cancer.
The act mandates that insurance companies cover:
- Breast and nipple reconstruction.
- Procedures on the non-affected breast to achieve symmetry.
Additional legislation passed in 2001 imposes penalties on non-compliant insurers.
This means that women who undergo breast cancer surgery are guaranteed the option for breast reconstruction — even if it means operating on the other breast as well to ensure symmetry.
There is no time-frame or statue of limitations connected to this act. So, if you had surgery in the past and did not undergo reconstruction, your surgery today or in the future still must be covered by your insurance company.