Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure performed by a board certified plastic surgeon after your mastectomy or lumpectomy. The procedure restores the shape, size, appearance of the breast you lost to your breast cancer treatment. During this trying time — actually, before your mastectomy or lumpectomy — you have to decide if you want an immediate breast reconstruction or a delayed procedure. There are pros and cons to each.
An immediate breast reconstruction happens right after your mastectomy, while you’re still under general anesthesia. A delayed breast reconstruction surgery comes weeks, months or even years after your mastectomy or lumpectomy. At Rowe Plastic Surgery in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island and the Hamptons, board certified cosmetic surgeons may advise you to delay your breast reconstruction for seven specific reasons.
Your breast cancer surgeon and your plastic surgeon advise against immediate breast reconstruction if you need more treatments for breast cancer. It’s often prudent to wait until you get a clean bill of health that shows the cancer is completely gone before you even think about replacing your missing breast. Further cancer treatments may include:
The cancer treatment procedures can ruin a reconstructed breast, which may then require a costly breast revision surgery. It’s much better to wait, heal and overcome the debilitating effects of the disease before you make another big decision. Your health always takes precedence. While you heal, you can investigate breast reconstruction options, meet with your cosmetic breast surgeon and develop realistic expectations for the procedure.
Immediate breast reconstruction surgery involves two different surgeons performing two separate procedures:
Combined procedures are always riskier than two separate surgeries. Plus, you’re already in a weakened state from the first procedure before the second one begins. Your best bet is to wait. Recover from your cancer surgery and then get a breast reconstruction.
Under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA), medical insurance must pay for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction is considered part of your cancer treatment. Your insurance pays to improve or restore your breast, regardless when you have the procedure, including:
You don’t have to undergo immediate breast reconstruction to have it covered by insurance. In fact, your plastic surgeon may recommend waiting until you’re sure you’re cancer-free and there were no complications from any of your cancer treatments. The staff at Rowe Plastic Surgery even help you with the insurance paperwork.
There’s no ideal time for breast reconstruction. If you need time to recover from the physical and emotional effects of your cancer treatments, you can rest and heal first. You don’t have to rush to have your breasts reconstructed, and there’s no deadline for the procedure.
Surviving breast cancer is a traumatic experience. Take your time and heal. The best time to have delayed breast reconstruction is when you’re ready for it. Other reasons to delay your breast reconstruction include:
The saying that you don’t really miss something until it’s gone applies here, unfortunately. Of course you miss the breast that was snatched away from you by cancer. Of course you grieve its loss and the effects your cancer treatments have had on you. But spending time healing from those treatments gives you a new perspective, including:
With delayed breast reconstruction, you can get full, curvy, structured breasts that accentuate your beauty as a woman. The procedure also relieves pain caused by chest tightness after your mastectomy. Ultimately, this surgery gives you another reason to smile after you conquer the cancer, and it improves your quality of life.
If you delay your breast reconstruction surgery until after you’ve healed from your cancer treatments, your plastic surgeon has the opportunity to reexamine your chest. Then, your surgeon can better determine the best technique to reconstruct your breast to meet your goals.
If you had immediate breast reconstruction, the surgeon chooses the best technique, based on the information at the time. In this case, the extra time helps you make more informed decisions. Other reasons a delayed procedure may deliver better results include:
Delayed breast reconstruction differs from one woman to another, but you can expect a shorter recovery period when you get a delayed procedure for a number of reasons, including:
Contact the team at Rowe Plastic Surgery in Manhattan, Plainview or Water Mill, NY or in Montclair or Red Bank, NJ before your mastectomy. Talk to a board certified plastic surgeon to determine the best approach to your breast reconstruction. There are many reasons to choose a delayed procedure, but listen to your experienced surgeon when comparing the procedures.