If you have had a breast removed through mastectomy due to cancer or another condition, breast reconstruction will do more than restore your appearance. For many women, it is an important part of healing and recovery. Regaining a more normal breast shape, size and symmetry can also impact your confidence and quality of life.
A Personal Approach to Breast Reconstruction
We understand the personal circumstances that have brought you to seek a plastic surgeon’s help and promise to empower you as a partner in your breast reconstruction experience.
While promoting a safe and healthy recovery after breast cancer and mastectomy is our main priority, our surgeons also aim to recreate an aesthetically pleasing, symmetrical, and natural looking breast that resembles your natural breast shape and size.
Your plastic surgeon at Belcara Health will be part of your cancer treatment team, and he will work closely with your oncology surgeon, as well as any other physicians involved in your healthcare.
Choosing a Breast Reconstruction Technique
Advancements in breast reconstruction techniques have increased the choices you have to restore your breasts after mastectomy. A large number of our patients choose tissue expander and breast implant reconstruction, while some others would like a method that uses their natural tissue. The choice you make is entirely personal.
Prior to surgery, your surgeon will describe the various techniques, explain the pros and cons of each as they apply to your unique circumstances, and design a surgical plan that best fits your needs and desires.
What is involved?
Breast reconstruction is a highly customized procedure, and the surgical process will vary widely from patient to patient contingent on the techniques used, your desired outcome, and whether or not reconstructive procedures are performed at the same time as your mastectomy.
The surgery can take between one to six hours and your procedure specifics will be dependent upon your chosen options. Most breast reconstruction plans involve more than one procedure, with the first surgery typically taking the most time. Because safety is our primary concern, we always work with board-certified anesthesiologists to ensure that your experience is as safe as possible.
Just as the time and complexity of surgery will vary, the healing process will be different depending on the technique chosen, as well as your general overall health at the time of surgery. Generally, flap procedures take more time in the hospital than tissue expansion techniques, and those requiring incisions in the abdomen will have the longest recovery. You should expect to be in the hospital for up to two to five days following surgery.
It can take up to six weeks to fully recover from a combined mastectomy and reconstruction procedure, while a delayed breast reconstruction with just implants should involve considerably less recovery time.
Nipple Tattooing & Areola Reconstruction
Nipple and areolar tattooing is often the last stage of the breast reconstruction process and occurs after you have healed from your previous procedures. This relatively easy in-office treatment can be an important step in helping your reconstructed breast truly look and feel like your natural breast.
The process takes around one hour and is performed by our specially trained permanent makeup tattoo artist. She works meticulously to recreate a nipple and areola appearance that looks natural and proportionate to your new breast, artistically designing a three-dimensional look to the area. She can match the color to that of your previous nipple and areola, or apply a darker or lighter pigment than you had before, depending on your individual preference.
While the tattooing is typically comfortable, we can apply a local anesthetic to keep you as pain-free as possible. The area will be sensitive and irritated for around a week after treatment and will at first look darker than your chosen shade. Your skin will heal to the correct color within around three weeks.
Will Insurance Cover Breast Reconstruction?
If your health insurance provider covers mastectomy, they will also cover your breast reconstruction procedure. With very limited exceptions, health insurance companies in the United States are required to cover breast reconstruction in mastectomy benefits, including the cost of your breast implants. Maryland state law also requires insurance companies to cover breast reconstruction after mastectomy, in addition to opposite-breast surgery if necessary. Our office will work with your insurance provider to determine the scope of your benefits.
“Thank you so much for your dedicated, professional care and support during my recent surgeries to restore my body after a mastectomy. The cosmetic result is outstanding! Your surgical skills have brought me a long way from that numbing day when I first heard “I am sorry, but you have cancer.” I am grateful that there are professionals and administrative staff like those in your office who are selfless and generous in providing patient care.”
Our practitioners who specialize in Breast Reconstruction surgery.
Dr. Michael D. Cohen is an acclaimed board certified plastic surgeon and has earned an international reputation for excellence in breast reconstruction surgery. Read full bio.