All types of cancer cause emotional turmoil, but breast cancer is particularly devastating to women. When a mastectomy is required, some women may feel as if their self-identity and femininity are threatened. Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is a way to move forward and reclaim your self-identity.
Should I wait for a reconstruction after the mastectomy?
Your oncology surgeon and plastic surgeon will coordinate your care together to determine the best approach for you. Many women prefer to have the reconstruction done immediately after the mastectomy. However, if you also need to have radiation therapy after the surgery, you’ll need to wait for the reconstruction. This is because the radiation can damage the reconstructed breast and negatively affect its appearance. If you do need to wait, the doctor might ask that you schedule the reconstruction six to 12 months after the mastectomy.
Estimated cost for breast reconstruction surgery
In most cases, plastic surgery isn’t covered by health insurance. Breast reconstruction that follows a mastectomy is different, since the mastectomy is medically necessary. The federal law, Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1988 requires health insurance carriers to cover reconstruction after mastectomy, surgery on a non-treated breast to produce symmetry, and treatment for any complications that arise from the reconstruction.
Women who lack health insurance could expect to pay about $5,000 to $15,000 per breast for reconstruction with implants, depending on the surgeon, geographical location, and particulars of the surgery. Out-of-pocket costs for reconstruction with the flap technique are usually at least $25,000 to $50,000 per breast.
With health insurance, the cost of breast reconstruction varies widely, depending on the policy, deductible amount, and co-insurance percentage. It could be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
What can I expect from breast reconstruction after a mastectomy?
Your plastic surgeon will walk you through the details of the specific techniques and approach for your surgery. You may need to stay at the hospital for the first few days after the surgery. The full recovery can take quite a while. In about eight weeks, you should see the swelling and bruises subside. During the next one to two years, the tissues will continue to heal and the scars will fade.
Follow the plastic surgeon’s instructions regarding activity restrictions during the initial healing period. For a while, you’ll have to avoid lifting above your head, and doing strenuous physical activity. You’ll be on strong pain medications for a while, and you’ll be unable to drive during this time. Just take it easy and get plenty of rest, and call the surgeon if you have any questions or concerns.
Find out more about breast reconstruction
Breast cancer, mastectomy, and lumpectomy are all sensitive matters. Women who are going through such an emotionally difficult time need to be able to trust in their plastic surgeon’s technical skills and experience, and they deserve to be treated by someone with an exceptionally warm, genuine bedside manner. That’s why many breast cancer patients have turned to Dr. B. Aviva Preminger in New York City for breast reconstruction.
As a board-certified plastic surgeon who has received professional acclaim and recognition, Dr. Preminger knows that her breast reconstruction patients need sound medical guidance and information they can count on to make the best decision for them. Call Dr. Preminger’s NYC office at (212) 706-1900.
More breast reconstruction resources:
- BreastCancer.org, When Is Breast Reconstruction Done? http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/reconstruction/when
- American Cancer Society, What to Expect After Breast Reconstruction Surgery, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/reconstruction-surgery/what-to-expect-after-breast-reconstruction-surgery.html