After being diagnosed with breast cancer, women must often undergo extensive surgeries that may destroy some or all of the breast tissue, leaving them with misshapen or deformed breasts that require breast reconstructive surgery or prosthesis. These are generally considered cosmetic surgeries, and may not be covered by insurance, but nevertheless, the process of breast reconstruction is a popular one among those who have had some or all of their breast tissue removed. There are a couple of different ways that the breasts can be reconstructed after cancer, or after surgery to remove the cancer, but let’s start with the various surgeries that are performed to remove breast tissue in the first place.
Breast cancer surgery typically involves the physical removal of the tumor itself, as well as some of the tissue that surrounds it. Commonly, a sentinel lymph node biopsy is done as well. The sentinel lymph node is the one that the cancer is most likely to spread to, the biopsy is done to see if that has happened and how far advanced it is if so. The surgery that is done in very advanced stages, or where the doctor sees no other choice is the Mastectomy, which is the removal of the entire breast. Other surgeries include a Quadrantectomy, or removal of a quarter of the breast, and a Lumpectomy, where only a small portion of the breast is removed.
The first thing that you should be aware of is that breast reconstruction results vary widely, and although the procedure does attempt to restore the breast to the normal shape, size and appearance, this may not happen exactly how you want it to. Also, you should be aware that your breast will not feel the same as the original one and there will always be incision lines from the surgery visible, whether they are from the cosmetic surgery, or from the original mastectomy. Also, there may be lines and scars visible on the site where the tissue is being taken from the reconstruct the breast. Also, your doctor may recommend surgery on the breast that wasn’t removed to augment it or make it match the reconstructed breast later. Of course, this is totally optional.
Risks of Breast Reconstruction Surgery
With any surgery comes risk, and this is the case whether you are having a mastectomy done, or reconstructive surgery. You and your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery and come to a decision together. Your plastic surgeon will explain all of the options to you, the risks that are associated with the surgery as well as any complications or side effects from the procedure. Some of the risks, most minor, include bleeding, infection, slow or poor healing and risks from the anesthesia. There is also the risk of capsular contracture and implant rupture with implants and you may need to undergo follow up procedures.
Cost of Breast Reconstruction Surgery
There are many factors that affect the cost of breast reconstruction surgery. One of them is the geographic location of the surgeon’s office. Also, surgeons that are highly skilled or who have a lot of experience doing breast reconstruction may charge more than others. There are also some associated costs with the surgery. The costs are generally, the fees for the hospital or facility where the surgery will be performed, the surgeon’s fee, the fee for the anesthesia and prescription cost for any medication, as well as x-rays and other tests. Many surgeons do offer payment plans so be sure to ask about that, and check to see if your insurance will cover some of all of the surgery.
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