Breast reconstruction is a surgery that restores your breast shape after a mastectomy. A mastectomy is the surgical removal of the breast that is performed to treat or prevent breast cancer.
A type of breast reconstruction that utilizes tissue from one area of the body and relocates it to the breast, is considered a breast reconstruction with flap surgery. Tissue is usually taken from the abdomen or back, but can also be taken from the butt or thighs, if necessary. The reconstruction can be done at the same time as your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), or it can be done as a separate procedure (delayed reconstruction); however, a full reconstruction typically requires two or more surgeries.
Breast reconstruction is not intended to create an exact replica of the breasts you had previously, however Dr. Buchanan will do his best to shape your new breasts as close as possible to a silhouette similar to what you had before the mastectomy surgery.
What Does the Tissue-Based Breast Reconstruction Surgery Look Like?
Dr. Buchanan will examine you and will decide on which particular flap technique will work best for you prior to surgery. While the Abdominal Flap Reconstruction is most common because of the abundance of tissue in the abdomen, other sites may be used depending on your body shape and fat distribution.
Flap surgeries involve two surgical sites – one is where the tissue is extracted, also known as the “donor” site, and the other is the site for the new breast. Skin, fat, blood vessels, and in some cases, muscle, are all taken from the area of extraction and transferred to the breast area to form the new breast. The tissue is reconnected by means of tiny blood vessels to the new blood supply. This is typically done with the aid of a surgical microscope.
Tissue-Based Reconstruction is a major surgery, and depending on the complexity of your case, you can expect to spend about one week recovering at the hospital where your surgery took place. After returning home, we ask that you abstain from any strenuous activity for at least six to eight weeks. Light to moderate activity levels may resumed after roughly 6-8 weeks, depending on the complexity of your case and pain levels. As always, we suggest drinking plenty of water, avoiding processed and salty foods, and resting as much as possible in order to assist with a speedy recovery.
How Much Does Tissue-Based Breast Reconstruction Cost?
The cost of breast reconstruction surgery varies significantly based on the experience of your surgeon, the technique he or she employs, the complexity of your case, and your geographical location.
It’s also important to note that there are always additional surgery costs associated with your procedure, including:
– Anesthesia fees
– Operating room costs
– Blood or additional medical testing
– Garments for post-surgery
– Miscellaneous expenses, such as surgeon’s fees
If you’ve considered breast reconstruction surgery, but feel like you are limited financially, speak to Dr. Buchanan or one of the VIVIFY staff members about financing options. We do our best to work with each patient by offering financing plans to help her achieve her surgical goals.
Will Insurance Cover My Breast Reconstruction?
Generally breast reconstruction surgery is considered a medically necessary procedure following a breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy, and should be covered by health insurance. By federal mandate, if your insurance covers your mastectomy, they are also required to cover your reconstructive surgery, in addition to post-mastectomy benefits, such as tissue expanders or flap surgery. However, you should always check with your provider to be clear on your financial responsibility, if any, before undergoing any surgery.
Finding the Right Plastic Surgeon
During your search for a potential plastic surgeon, you should only consider a surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Board-certified surgeons spend a minimum of 6-8 years in training after medical school to ensure that they are well-trained in both aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. In addition, Dr. Buchanan feels that micro-surgical flap breast reconstruction is best performed in center of excellence with surgeons and teams who perform these procedures on a weekly basis. If you and Dr. Buchanan decide that a micro-surgical flap breast reconstruction is the best option for you rather than an implant-based breast reconstruction, he may refer you to another provider.