Over 100,000 breast cancer survivors had reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy in 2015. The procedure is becoming increasingly popular, and it can be a great way to bring some normalcy back to your life after the tumult of cancer treatment. At the same time, not all survivors should necessarily have reconstructive surgery, and with the various cosmetic options available today, you’ll need to take care to find the right one for you. Here are three questions to ask before you opt for breast reconstructive surgery.
Ask if you’re a good candidate.
You’ll want to consult with your doctor before making the change. Some physiciansargue that you shouldn’t look into breast implants if you’re going to undergo radiation therapy, while others believethat patients who are responding well to their treatment can benefit from reconstructive surgery. Talk to your radiologist about how your treatment is going and develop a realistic timeline for plastic surgery.
See if your insurance will cover it.
Under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA), health insurance that covers mastectomies are also required to cover reconstructive cosmetic surgery. However, WHCRA does not apply to Medicare, Medicaid, and some governmental or religious insurance coverage. Be sure to check what is covered by your insurance before committing to your reconstructive surgery.
Decide what the best option will be for you.
You may be imagining that your breast reconstruction surgery will involve the traditional breast implants, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re concerned about your affected breast looking and feeling more like a natural breast, you can look into flap reconstruction, where the surgeon takes a section of tissue from your body and uses it to create a new breast mound.
With that said, flap reconstruction tends to take longer to heal. Many women also find that their breasts are uneven, and may therefore want a breast lift or breast augmentation on the opposite side for symmetry. The recovery time for breast implants is shorter, and if you think you may want to have surgery on both breasts for evenness, it may make sense to opt for implants the first time around.
After you’ve done your research, whether or not you opt for reconstructive surgery will ultimately be up to you. Every woman has her own journey to beat breast cancer and to get on with your life. Whether you decide to celebrate your body in its current form or to leave the past behind with reconstruction, the choice is always yours.