The prospect of breast reconstruction surgery can be both gripping and scary for patients. Once you’ve identified a board certified, reputable plastic surgeon to work with, it’s important to ask questions that’ll help make you comfortable about the breast reconstruction procedure as a whole.

Am I a good candidate for breast reconstruction?

Only a board certified professional is well placed to evaluate your case and tell whether you’re a good candidate for breast reconstruction. Depending on the patient, there may be multiple breast reconstruction options available for you, such as DIEP flapPAP FlapGAP Flap, and Hybrid Stacked Flap procedures. It’s important to know this beforehand.

When is the ideal time to have reconstruction done?

If you’re having a mastectomy or lumpectomy procedure scheduled soon, it might be a good idea to get the reconstruction done at the same time. There are both pros and cons to this. Talking to a professional will help you get a clearer picture so you can make the best decision based on your individual circumstances.

What types of reconstructions could I have?

There are at least two different reconstructing techniques available for your breast: implant reconstruction, which involves breast augmentation techniques, and flap reconstruction. Each method has its benefits and risks that you should be aware of. Have a qualified plastic surgeon explain both sides of it to you.

What’s the average cost of each type of reconstruction? Will my insurance cover it?

Breast Reconstruction is covered by many insurances, but cost can be an issue without insurance. WHCRA (Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act) protects many women with breast cancer. This federal law stipulates that group insurance plans (those that started on or after 1st October 1998) that cover mastectomies should also cover breast reconstruction. Sometimes, Mastectomy benefits require you to pay co-insurance (when the insurance company pays less and the patient has to pay the difference).  Make a point to get some detailed insights related to costs and insurance as you prep for the operation.

How many years of experience does the surgeon have?

This is usually a factor for over 90% of patients. Few people, if anybody, want to work with a surgeon who’s is inexperienced. Make sure that you do enough due diligence and ask those important background questions to learn more about the plastic surgeon you are interested in working with. Reconstruction takes the expertise of two surgeons, however many surgeons are far more qualified and experienced to perform breast reconstructive surgeries. Often times there are ways to know if the surgeon is experienced including researching the doctor, and asking your oncologist about the surgeon you are interested in using.

How will I feel after the procedure?    

Don’t wait until after the procedure to discover that it doesn’t feel like you had expected. Typically, women are concerned with how ‘real’ their reconstructed breasts may feel. They want to know whether the surgical outcome will be worth the effort. Spend some time to learn as much as possible about scarring, reconstructed size, symmetry, sensation and touch after reconstruction. Women will usually say it will feel different for a time being, especially if the nipple was not able to be spared, but even then it will feel different for an amount of time. Consider talking to your preferred professional for more insights about what his patients have experienced. This will also help you get to know your surgeon and understand his experience in breast reconstruction from a more in-depth approach.

What possible issues should I know about?

Possible after-surgery problems can include wound infections, fluid under the wound, flap failure, pain, and discomfort. Probable long-term issues include leakage of implant fluid, hardening or changing shape of the implant, unequal breasts following weight changes, and ultimately the need to replace the implant. This is why you should make sure your surgeon is highly qualified. One way to find this out is to check their website to see if they offer breast reconstruction revisions. Dr. Theunissen has corrected many other surgeons breast reconstruction surgeries. This means that even if their is an issue in the surgery, Dr. Theunissen can fix the problem himself. You may also discuss with your surgeon regarding what best can be done to avoid any issues.

Conclusion

Many Plastic surgeons, including Dr Theunissen, are progressively developing newer techniques that increase the prospects of a satisfactory outcome. You should never be overly worried to the point of dropping your plans for breast reconstruction. Also, it is important to observe the fact that both immediate and delayed reconstructions require hospital stay.