A breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating. A woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing this disease in her lifetime. While it is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, death from breast cancer has dropped 40 percent between 1989 and 2016. And that is news to be thankful for.
More and more women are surviving this battle, but not without scars — both mental and physical. The physical scars they carry with them come in the form of lumpectomy divets, resection scars, nipple displacement, mastectomy, and chemotherapy port scarring.
In the past, treating these types of physical reminders could take months of recovery, resulting in painful, additional scarring, and be very expensive.
But that was then.
Today, policies and procedures for breast reconstruction have evolved rapidly. And some women who opted for reconstructive surgery as early as a few years ago, are undergoing revision surgery today due to the advancement in medical techniques and options.
If you’re thinking of breast reconstruction surgery, consider these 6 recent improvements in the specialty that could help you when making your ultimate decision.
1. Information delivery
Insurance coverage and underwriting have long been a daunting tangle of red tape; however many medical offices now have patient advocates on staff. These vital staff members are versed in insurance coverage and applications for specific specialties, including breast reconstruction.
Because of these advocates, more and more women are learning that the Women’s Health and Cancer Act of 1998 requires all health plans that cover mastectomy to also cover breast reconstruction procedures and prostheses. In fact, if you’ve had breast surgery in the past, but didn’t have reconstruction at the time, you are also covered under that act.
2. Lumpctomy reconstruction
The most common form of breast cancer surgery today is the lumpectomy, a resection (removal) of a cancerous (or benign) lump. These successful surgical procedures result in a divet: a missing portion of tissue that causes the skin to dimple.
Lumpectomy reconstruction (filling in those divets) is a great option for women who have these types of scars and, with the advances in reconstructive surgery, this procedure can even help your breasts look better than they did before the lumpectomy.
3. BREAST AUGMENTATION/RECONSTRUCTION
Mastectomies can leave scars much larger than the missing breast(s). New procedures utilize pre-pectoral (above the muscle) placements instead of placing the implants below the muscle. This change in placement cuts down on recovery time, post-surgical pain, and results in a more functional and aesthetically pleasing result.
4. ADVANCES IN MICROSURGERIES SUCH AS DIEP FLAPS
A DIEP flap is a procedure that uses skin, fat, and blood vessels from the lower abdomen to reconstruct breasts. Because no muscle is used/removed from the abdomen, the recovery time has been minimized and the risk of losing abdominal muscle strength is minimized.
5. ADVANCES IN FAT GRAFTING
Fat grafting is used in reconstructing the breast and also to help fill in divets formed from lumpectomies. Recently, fat grafting has also been used when performing implant reconstructions to help create fullness and symmetry.
6. NIPPLE-SPARING MASTECTOMIES
One of the biggest changes over the years is the option to spare the nipple while having a mastectomy. There are currently no good options for nipple reconstruction, so having this option to spare the nipple is a huge draw for many women who have this procedure.
For those who had their mastectomies before this technique was viable, 3-D nipple tattooing is a wonderful option that gives amazing visual results.
REGAIN YOUR CONFIDENCE
There is an enormous mental toll exacted on cancer survivors. Aside from the grueling treatments with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation, survivors who have lost a breast to the disease may feel ‘less than’ they were before their diagnosis. Breast reconstruction is one way those who have battled cancer can feel comfortable and confident in their own skin again.
Breast reconstruction surgery is an important decision that requires a lot of forethought and planning. You will also need a caring, professional reconstruction team whose primary focus is your comfort and helping you achieve the results you’re looking for.
The professionals at Proffer Surgical Associates can help you navigate red tape, weigh options, and target the procedures that will leave you with natural, contoured, and aesthetically pleasing results.
If breast reconstruction surgery is on your radar, contact Proffer Surgical Associates today and schedule a consultation in our private, comfortable office.
Don’t let the aftermath of a hard-fought – and won – battle leave you feeling anything less than triumphant.
Let us help you regain your confidence and restore your natural silhouette today.