Breast Reconstruction Questions
What is postmastectomy breast reconstruction?
During a mastectomy, one or both breasts are surgically removed. Historically, mastectomies have been the cause of both physical and emotional trauma. Today, however, new techniques exist that allow surgeons to reconstruct the breast surgically. Generally, this includes using breast implants or patient tissue to form a breast; the reconstructed breast is then fitted with a natural-looking nipple and areola.
Which types of breast reconstruction are available?
There are two major reconstruction techniques available to patients. In the first technique, Chicago Breast Surgeon Dr. Placik places a temporary implant in the chest. Over a period of weeks or months, he injects saline solution into the implant, which promotes the steady expansion of the tissue over the breast. The temporary implant is replaced with a permanent implant once the breast has reached the desired size, and patients undergo a separate surgery for nipple and areola reconstruction. In the second technique, Dr. Placik places tissue from another part of the patient's body (such as the back, thigh, buttocks, or abdomen) in the breast. The tissue either retains its previous blood supply, or Dr. Placik connects the tissue to a new supply.
How much does postmastectomy breast reconstruction cost?
Fortunately, the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 has helped ensure that breast reconstruction is an available option for many women. As a result of this act, most healthcare plans will cover postmastectomy breast reconstruction, provided the patient was eligible for the mastectomy itself. Usually, this coverage extends to surgery that may need to be performed on a natural breast to guarantee breast symmetry. Because healthcare plans vary, it is important to check with your provider to see how much of the reconstruction is covered.
What can I expect from the actual surgery?
Generally, patients can expect to be sedated using general anesthesia prior to the operation, and they can expect a short (one to five days) stay in the hospital. Additionally, reconstruction may involve more than one surgical procedure, particularly for the areola and nipple reconstruction, which typically happens once the skin over the breast has stretched to accommodate the new breast. Outpatients and additional follow-up procedures that do not require full sedation might also be required. Patients seeking breast reconstruction may undergo procedures as early as at the time of the mastectomy.
What is the recovery time for breast reconstruction?
The recovery period from most breast reconstruction procedures is approximately six weeks, although patients undergoing implant-based reconstruction tend to heal more quickly. During the recovery period, it is important to refrain from strenuous physical activity and overhead lifting. Once the recovery period has ended, patients may undergo nipple and areola reconstruction, and they may also opt to have surgery on a remaining breast to achieve symmetry.
When you visit Dr. Otto J. Placik, you will receive the best possible care and attention. If you would like to schedule a private consultation, please send our breast surgeon an email or call us at (847) 398-1660.