Breast Reconstruction Awareness

breast reconstruction awareness dayBreast Reconstruction – I want you to know there are options!

Imagine, you go in to get your routine annual mammogram.  They tell you they see something suspicious and they need to do some additional views.  Your heart is racing!  You’re starting to get scared!  They then come in the room and tell you that they found something that should be biopsied and they recommend having a biopsy done.  What you came in for, anticipating a simple x-ray, is now turning into a surgical procedure.  You then leave the mammogram facility scared and wondering what they have found.  They call you back later and inform you that you have been found to have breast cancer.  You are in a Panic!!  You’re scared to death.  You’re afraid you’re going to die.  You want this taken care of “yesterday”.  You go in to see the doctor.  You see a general surgeon who discusses the options of removing part or all of your breast.  If you think about it long enough, you are not only scared of potentially dying from breast cancer but also being horribly disfigured, and losing that outward sign of your femininity.  You’re concerned about how you will appear in clothing, swimwear, or even intimately with her husband.

How many women do you know who have had breast cancer?  I would anticipate that there are a lot of women that you know who have had breast cancer and reconstruction, and you are unaware of that.  Many women have had breast cancer and then had their breasts reconstructed and look perfectly normal in clothing or any swimwear they might wear.

Did you know that it is now Federal law that if insurance will cover the costs for mastectomy for breast cancer, the insurance must also cover the costs for breast reconstruction?  Insurance is also required by Federal law to cover anything we might need to do to the opposite breast to achieve balance and symmetry.

Did you know that there is now a law that requires facilities to inform you of the option of breast cancer reconstruction in the event of a diagnosis of breast cancer?  Even with that law in place, so many women are so emotionally confused and devastated by this diagnosis that they can’t comprehend the fact that they may also be able to undergo breast reconstruction.  Studies have that shown that only 23% of women have any idea of the range of breast reconstruction options available.  Only 22% women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected.  And only 19% women understand that the timing of their treatment for breast cancer and the timing of their decision to undergo reconstruction greatly impacts her options and the results.  Unfortunately, many women who are eligible for breast reconstruction following cancer surgery are not being informed of these options.

Breast Reconstruction Awareness day (BRA Day) is October 18, 2017.  I would like to make as many women as possible aware that they do have options to reconstruct her breast when they are facing the specter of breast cancer.  As a plastic surgeon, I may not be able to cure someone from breast cancer.  But I would sure like to make it an option for them for reconstruction so they are not reminded of their breast cancer every day the rest of the lives when they see themselves in public, in clothing, or even in their home.  We, as Plastic Surgeons, would like to “close the loop” on breast cancer, helping women to feel whole again.

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