As many of you may know, E! host Giuliana Rancic was diagnosed with breast cancer. After receiving a double lumpectomy and radiation, she decided to have a double mastectomy because her doctor couldn’t remove all the cancer in one breast. This is a decision that so many women face every year. Not only do they have to go through the heartache of a breast cancer diagnosis, but many opt for a double mastectomy with the hope of ridding their bodies of cancer for good.
Giuliana’s battle with breast cancer will hopefully serve as a reminder for all women to regularly have breast examinations. Catching the cancer early increases your survival rate. When an abnormal breast change is found during a breast exam, a biopsy may be performed.
The journey that Giuliana and the many women in her position go through after a double mastectomy is not an easy one. I have performed numerous breast reconstruction procedures for patients after a double mastectomy. Breast reconstruction helps to restore the breasts to a more normal shape, appearance, and size. This is achieved through several cosmetic surgery techniques.
The results of breast reconstruction are highly variable. A reconstructed breast will not have the same sensation and feel. Whether from reconstruction or mastectomy, visible incision lines will always be present on the breast. If only one breast is being reconstructed, I recommend a breast lift, breast reduction, or breast augmentation for the opposite breast to improve symmetry of the size and position of both breasts.
There are two types of ways a breast can be reconstructed. The first are implants. These are filled with either silicone or saline and can be inserted during or after a mastectomy. They are placed underneath the chest muscle just like during a normal breast augmentation procedure.
Flaps are another type of reconstruction. During a flap reconstruction, the breast is created using tissue taken from other parts of the body. Tissue from the abdomen, back, buttocks, or thighs is transplanted to the chest by reconnecting the blood vessels to new ones in the chest region. This procedure requires a high level of skill and the appropriate equipment and staff needed. Because of this, a flap procedure must be performed at specialized surgical centers.
A positive note about breast reconstruction is that federal and state laws require insurance companies to pay for all or part of the cost of the procedure at any time after removal of a patient’s breast tissue. Surgery required on the opposite breast for symmetry is often times also covered. The extent of coverage varies among insurance carriers, so please feel free to contact us to see what your insurance company will pay for. It’s my goal to not only provide the best plastic surgery for my patients, but to also minimize their out of pocket expenses when possible.