Reconstructive breast surgery
Post mastectomy breast reconstruction is used to restore the breasts of patients who had to have them removed. Breast cancer is, by far, the leading cause of mastectomies, and many women who successfully overcome breast cancer opt for reconstructive breast surgery to restore their natural appearances.
The Cost of Breast Reconstruction Surgery
The cost of a bilateral breast reconstruction procedure can vary significantly from surgeon to surgeon and depends heavily on your geographic location. Costs can reach $10,000 or more. The expenses you should expect to face include:
- Necessary tests and X-rays
- Hospital or facility costs
- Surgeons' fees
- Materials costs (for example, saline or silicone breast implants)
- Anesthesiologist fees
- Post-operative prescription medication fees
You should schedule an in-depth consultation with an experienced and reputable surgeon to discuss your reasons for wanting breast reconstruction surgery and your general medical history. Your doctor will assess your overall health and, if you've had your breasts removed as the result of cancer or another medical condition or accident, he or she may also take X-rays to check for any signs of structural damage. At this time, it's good to ask for breast reconstruction examples featuring the surgeon's past patients so you can get a clearer idea of the results you might expect. Seek a specialist with specific experience if you want breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.
The doctor will also ask you about any known allergies you have to medications, as well as any medications you're currently taking. It is important that you are deemed healthy enough to undergo the procedure, as it can be stressful on the body; if you're currently battling breast cancer, your candidacy for the surgery may be adversely affected. You will be advised to wait until you're in remission before having a breast cancer reconstruction.
Breast Reconstruction Procedures
Broadly speaking, the breast reconstruction procedure takes place over five steps:
- The patient is anesthetized and stabilized.
- Using flap techniques, the surgeon rearranges the patient's muscles, fat and skin to create new breast mounds or cover existing ones.
- The surgeon applies a tissue stretching method to allow healthy skin to cover the breast region where the implant will be inserted.
- Breast implants are placed.
- Nipples and areolas are creating using skin grafting techniques.
Risks of Reconstructive Breast Surgery
General risks of breast reconstruction surgery include bleeding, blood clotting, scarring, infection and reactions to anesthesia. In addition, you should understand that the flap techniques used to create or cover breast mounds carry their own set of potential complications. Chief among these is the possibility that you'll permanently lose your sense of touch at either the donor site, the reconstruction site, or both. Your surgeon will be your best source of information on breast construction surgery, and you should have a comprehensive understanding of the risks involved before you sign any surgical consent forms.
Recovery After Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Healing time after breast reconstruction surgery varies from patient to patient, but you should expect significant down time following your operation. You'll be sent home from the hospital or clinic wearing special wound dressings, and you may be fitted with a uniquely designed bra that will give you comfort and support while protecting the operative site.
If you experience sharp chest pains, shortness of breath or an irregular heartbeat in the days following the procedure, seek immediate medical attention. Otherwise, follow your doctor's specific instructions closely and remember that pain, bruising and swelling are normal side effects of surgery.