Breast reconstruction is an important part of the journey for women battling breast cancer. Most women who have had a mastectomy are able to have breast reconstruction, regardless of when the breast(s) was removed (years or decades earlier) and post-cancer treatments. Additionally, many women who have had lumpectomies, resulting in breasts that no longer look the same, may be candidates for breast reconstruction.
Flagstaff’s Adam Boettcher, M.D., board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery, answers questions about breast reconstruction:
Q: Is reconstruction surgery covered by insurance?
A: YES! In 1998, The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act mandated insurance plans that cover mastectomies must also cover breast reconstruction, including reconstruction of the other breast to create symmetry and balance.
Q: Can I have breast reconstruction if I had radiation?
A: Yes, but you will need to wait a few months to give the radiated area a chance to heal.
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Q: When is the best time to start reconstruction?
A: Reconstruction can begin at the same time as the mastectomy or it may have to wait until after radiation and chemotherapy. Either way, the plastic surgeon can be part of the surgical team performing the mastectomy.
Q: What are reconstruction options?
A: There are two main techniques; the best option depends on the extent of the mastectomy and the desired result.
Implant reconstruction consists of inserting an implant filled with saline, silicone gel or a combination of the two. Autologous or "flap" reconstruction uses tissue and/or fat transplanted from another part of the body such as the belly, thigh or back.