Breast reconstruction after mastectomy or lumpectomy is not a required step in treatment. However, many women are not even made aware of their reconstruction options after surgery. The Breast Reconstruction Awareness USA Campaign is run by members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and The Plastic Surgery Foundation (The PSF) and seeks to educate women about their options following treatment.
In leading this campaign, BRA Day is now nationally recognized on the third Wednesday every October.
What is Breast Reconstruction?
Put simply, Breast Reconstruction is a plastic surgery procedure or series of procedures which can restore the breast(s) to a “normal” or near-preop size, shape and symmetry following mastectomy.
According to Breast Reconstruction USA, “only 19 percent of women understand that the timing of their treatment for breast cancer and the timing of their decision to undergo reconstruction greatly impacts their options and results.”
Should you find yourself discussion mastectomy with your surgeon, they should let you know that Breast Reconstruction is available. However, many women are not made aware of their options at this time and therefore may miss out on certain reconstruction procedures.
There are multiple techniques that can be used to reconstruct a breast; implants, fat transfer, muscle flap surgery, breast lift (if just one breast is affected by cancer), and more.
No matter your stage in your breast cancer journey, if you feel that reconstruction might be right for you, we encourage you to talk with your surgeon about your options and for a plastic surgeon recommendation.
Is Breast Reconstruction Covered By Insurance?
Many women have been told that reconstruction is “cosmetic” if implants are used, and that is simply not true! Breast Reconstruction is considered reconstructive and medically necessary and should be covered under most insurance plans.
This does not mean it is free- patients must still meet deductible and coinsurance amounts before insurance will pay 100%, but at the very least this procedure should count toward your insurance benefits.
Types of Breast Reconstruction
There are 3 main types of Breast Reconstruction available at this time.
Breast Reconstruction using implants
Breast Reconstruction using tissue from another part of your body
Combination approach using your own tissue and implants
There are also different timing options with regard to Breast Reconstruction- immediate or delayed. Immediate reconstruction would be done at the same time as your mastectomy surgery. Delayed is any time following mastectomy and/or other necessary treatments.
In many cases, immediate breast reconstruction is possible. Keep in mind that although it is called immediate reconstruction, it may still require multiple procedures and the final result may not be achieved for many months. This simply refers to the process beginning at the time of the mastectomy surgery.
Learn More about BRA Day USA
To learn more about BRA Day and Breast Reconstruction, please click here to visit the Breast Reconstruction Awareness website. There, you can also learn about sponsoring a BRA Day event and helping to raise money for their research initiatives.