Your Questions About Breast Reconstruction After Breast Cancer
Breast reconstruction can often be an important part of the overall care plan for women affected by breast cancer. For those who have faced not only the initial diagnosis but a mastectomy, breast reconstruction can be the final piece of the puzzle in making a woman feel like her old self again. Today, women with breast cancer have options in their treatment plan to battle the disease. Breast reconstruction surgery can help restore the look and feel of the breast when performed by a highly qualified plastic surgeon.
Breast reconstruction is never an easy scenario, but the compassionate team at Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery in Huntington, NY, is committed to making the process as comfortable and satisfying as possible. Board-certified plastic surgeons Dr. James Romanelli and Dr. John Layliev have performed numerous Long Island-area breast reconstruction surgeries, helping women to restore a more natural look and regain their confidence. Read below for answers to some of your toughest questions about breast reconstruction following cancer.
Do I have to make this decision right away?
Women are faced with many decisions and a lot to learn after finding out they have breast cancer. Reconstructive surgery and the details that surround it can seem daunting if the time is not right. Rest assured, you can take your time and make a thoughtful and informed decision even years after your mastectomy or lumpectomy. The only downside to waiting is that patients may not have the same reconstruction options available as those who choose a quicker reconstruction. Reconstruction can be performed simultaneously with a mastectomy or lumpectomy or a few days after. The decision is personal, and each woman needs to decide what is best for her.
Is breast reconstruction expensive?
Under New York state and federal laws, insurance companies must cover breast reconstruction surgery. The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 protects women who choose to have their breasts reconstructed following a mastectomy. This act was instrumental in making sure insurance covered a woman’s surgical expenses related to the surgery.
How is the procedure performed?
Breast reconstruction is a very personalized procedure, tailored to each patient’s individual needs and body. When you decide the time is right for breast reconstruction, the first step includes a consultation with the highly qualified plastic surgeons at Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery in Huntington, NY. During your consultation, Dr. Romanelli or Dr. Layliev will thoroughly evaluate your case, discuss your goals, answer your questions, and create a customized plan.
These surgical methods may be recommended:
Implant-based reconstruction: During this procedure, a tissue expander or implant is used to create the breast after a mastectomy. If a tissue expander is used, the volume will be slowly increased during regular visits to our office. Once the desired size is reached, an implant will replace the expander during a second-stage operation.
Flap reconstruction: The board-certified plastic surgeons at Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery are experts in the field of flap breast reconstruction. This generalized term for reconstructive surgery uses a patient's tissue, fat, and muscle to rebuild the breast. The flap technique can provide bigger, softer, more natural-feeling breasts that age the same way natural breasts do without the need for an implant.
Will I be able to wear a regular bra afterward? The short answer is yes, eventually. During your consultation with Dr. Romanelli or Dr. Layliev, they will provide all the details regarding recovery and expectations. Often, patients wear a compression bra for a few weeks after the surgery to help reduce swelling. Underwire bras are generally not recommended for the first six weeks following surgery.
Will reconstructed breasts look and feel natural?
One of the essential elements of undergoing breast reconstruction is to approach the procedure with realistic expectations. Even in the most successful cases, reconstructed breasts will never look and feel exactly like natural breasts. In general, with the implant method, women can expect their breasts to be firmer and denser than natural breasts. If a flap procedure is chosen, patients can expect a softer, more natural-feeling outcome. Many women prefer the flap procedure when just one breast needs to be constructed.
Will I have feeling in my breasts?
One of the most important things to understand when facing mastectomy and reconstruction is that the physical sensation in your breasts, nipples, and surrounding tissue will likely be lost permanently. During mastectomy and reconstruction, most of the nerves in the area are cut. While there is the potential for some nerve endings to regenerate, this is not the typical result and can take many years to occur. Even with nerve regrowth, the sensations are generally not as intense and not necessarily in the same area as they were before surgery.
How long do implants last? While there is no guarantee of how long implants last, a patient can anticipate a lifespan of 10 – 15 years, if not longer, before replacement. There are many reasons why an implant would need to be exchanged, and often, it is not related to problems with the implant itself. It is always a good idea to have your implants checked periodically by a physician, as well as an MRI scan to check for leakage.
Meet our talented team
If you are considering breast reconstruction surgery and still have unanswered questions, we can help. The compassionate and skillful team at Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery is ready to assist you in this delicate process. Contact our Long Island-area office today to schedule a consultation and meet Dr. James Romanelli or Dr. John Layliev. They are experts in the field and can explain in detail how breast reconstruction can improve your appearance, restore your confidence, and help put this chapter in the past.