Breast Cancer Reconstruction: FAQ

Breast Cancer Reconstruction: FAQ

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the office of Jim Brantner, MD would like to answer your questions about breast cancer reconstruction.pink balloons

  • Should I Have Reconstructive Surgery?
    • Mastectomy due to cancer is an intimate and painful topic, and no two patients are alike. Many women do find that reconstructive surgery helps them to feel more like themselves again. Others choose not to experience more surgeries and hospital time. Speak with your doctors, care team, and close companions, but remember that ultimately the choice lies with you.
  • What are my Options?
    • There are two options for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy: artificial breast implants, or tissue flap reconstruction. Breast implants after a mastectomy are quite similar to a standard breast implant, in that an artificial saline or silicone implant is used. In tissue flap reconstruction, tissue from your body (usually the abdomen or back) is used in the same manner. Neither option is one-size-fits-all, and both create natural-looking results. Discuss them with your surgeon to determine which is right for you.
  • When Should I Have Surgery?
    • You have several options when it comes to the timing of your breast reconstruction. Some women choose to have removal and reconstruction at the same time, which has the advantage of significantly lessening overall recovery time. Some women choose to delay their reconstruction surgery. This is often due to further treatment needs, such as targeted radiation and chemotherapy. It’s not uncommon for doctors to recommend a waiting period of six months to a year after completing treatment. Some women also choose staged reconstruction, where part of the reconstruction is done at removal and the rest after treatment.

Again, a long discussion with your entire care team is the best way to determine which breast reconstruction option is right for you. There is no rule that patients should have reconstruction immediately–many patients wait months, years, or never choose to have the procedure at all.

When you’re ready to begin the consultation process, contact Dr. Brantner’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery office in East Tennessee for professional, informed, compassionate care.

4 Things You Need to Know about Breast Reconstruction

4 Things You Need to Know about Breast Reconstruction

By now, everyone has seen pink ribbons decorating cars, signs, and “Walk for the Cure” t-shirts. October encourages communities to donate funds, spread awareness, and support women surviving breast cancer. But many women–even those living with the disease–are unaware of their options. We’re raising awareness this month by sharing these little-known facts about breast reconstruction.

4 Things You May Not Know about Breast Reconstruction

  1. woman on beachIt’s covered by insurance. Many women are unaware of their breast reconstruction options. Reconstruction isn’t cosmetic surgery. In fact, thanks to The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, insurance policies are required by law to cover the cost of both mastectomies and reconstruction procedures. This coverage also pays for surgery to restore symmetry in the event of a unilateral mastectomy (the removal of a single breast).
  2. You don’t always need implants. When you talk to Dr. Brantner about breast reconstruction, he can recommend the best option based on your health, healing, and desired outcome. Many women get spacers at the time of their mastectomy, followed by saline or silicone implants. Others prefer taking tissue from the back or abdomen to reconstruct breast tissue. In the hands of a skilled physician, both techniques can result in full, natural-looking breasts.
  3. There may be a time gap. Some women have the option of reconstructing the breasts at the same time as their mastectomy. This may allow their plastic surgeon to preserve the skin of the breast for a more natural-looking reconstruction. Other women wait for reconstructive surgery, either to give themselves time to consider their options or because of medical reasons like radiation therapy.
  4. Reconstruction makes a big difference in emotional recovery. Each woman has her own experience, and no one can make her reconstruction decisions for her. But many patients find that breast reconstruction helps them overcome emotional hurdles during the recovery process. Reconstruction can go a long way towards helping you “feel like you again.”

If you have a question about breast reconstruction options, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Brantner’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery office in East Tennessee.

Get Involved in Breast Cancer Awareness

Get Involved in Breast Cancer Awareness

October will be ending soon, but there’s still plenty of time to get involved in breast cancer awareness. Many fundraising opportunities will end with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but there are always things you can do in Johnson City to support women fighting breast cancer.

5 Ways to Get Involved in Breast Cancer Awareness

    1. breast cancer awareness badgeWalk for a cure. Johnson City’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event takes place Sunday, October 30th in Founders Park. Registration is at 1pm and the walk kicks off at 3pm. Start a team or cheer others on as we raise funds, awareness, and support.
    2. Know (and share) the facts. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Research shows that a healthy diet and regular exercise can decrease your chances of getting breast cancer by 40%. Men are also at risk for breast cancer (1 in 1,000 chance), but women over 50 have the highest risk. If caught in its early stages, breast cancer has a 98% survival rate.
    3. Learn about self-exams. Monthly self-exams are the most effective tool for catching breast cancer early. Learn how to perform an effective self-exam, looking for lumps and changes in the feel of breast tissue. Educate others about the importance of monthly breast self-exams.
    4. Raise funds. Whether you donate, organize a fundraiser, or encourage your friends and family to give, breast cancer donations can significantly improve access to mammograms, increase awareness of the disease, and fund cancer research.
    5. Volunteer your time. If you’re not personally affected by breast cancer, it’s easy to do your part in October, then forget about the need. Get involved in breast cancer programs in Johnson City year round. Volunteer your time to raise awareness, drive women to mammograms and doctor’s appointments, and educate women about their treatment and reconstruction options.

Do you have a question about breast cancer screening, support, or reconstruction options? Call Dr. Brantner’s East Tennessee Reconstructive Surgery Center.

4 Myths about Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is a personal decision that each breast cancer patient must consider carefully. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about when, why, and how to reconstruct the breasts after a mastectomy. If you have questions about breast reconstruction, talk to Dr. Brantner about what’s right for you. In the meantime, we’re debunking a few of the most common myths about breast reconstruction.

4 Myths about Breast Reconstruction

  1. happy woman in blueBreast reconstruction must take place immediately after a mastectomy. There’s no right time for breast reconstruction. Many women choose reconstruction immediately after their mastectomy, while others wait to finish radiation treatments or until they’re sure reconstruction is right for them. Breast reconstruction can be effective years after a mastectomy.
  2. Radiation or chemotherapy makes breast reconstruction impossible. Radiation affects blood circulation and the elasticity of the skin, while chemotherapy may affect the timeline of breast reconstruction. These treatments can limit reconstruction options, but in most cases, they don’t disqualify patients from breast reconstruction. If you’ve undergone (or are currently undergoing) radiation or chemotherapy treatments, discuss your breast reconstruction options with Dr. Brantner.
  3. Unnatural looking implants are the only option. Women who choose breast reconstruction have a variety of options, ranging from breast implants to breast reconstruction using body tissue. Thanks to surgical advancements, both options can result in natural looking breasts that help cancer survivors reclaim their confidence and sense of femininity.
  4. It’s harder to detect breast cancer after reconstruction. Detection of breast cancer relies on a variety of factors, none of which breast reconstruction has been proven to affect. Ask Dr. Brantner which screening techniques and breast exams are best for after your reconstruction.

If you’d like to learn more about breast reconstruction options, call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brantner.

Patient

What You Need to Know about Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Men and women across the globe are showing support and raising awarenss through donations, Breast Cancer Awareness walks, and the familiar pink ribbon. But many people don’t know how breast cancer could affect them and the people around them. Don’t just pledge to support Breast Cancer Awareness. Learn and educate the people around you. It could save a life.

What You Need to Know about Breast Cancer

  • pink ribbonIt doesn’t just affect women over 40. Men have a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2009, a 10 year old girl in California became the youngest person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Find a doctor you can trust. Qualifications are crucial, but you should also feel comfortable discussing questions, both big and small, with your physician.
  • Women are more likely to develop breast cancer if they have close female relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Mammogram screening typically begins at 40, but high risk patients should discuss early screenings with their doctor.
  • Many women who develop breast cancer do not have family history.
  • Monthly breast exams increase the likelihood of catching breast cancer in its early stages. Get to know your breast tissue — but don’t skip your regular screenings.
  • The size of your breasts does not affect your risk of developing breast cancer.
  • There’s no evidence to suggest that breast implants increase the risk of breast cancer. At your regular screenings, remind your doctor or radiologist of the type and size of your breast implants.
  • There are many treatment options, and the best option is highly individual. Discuss each with your doctor before beginning treatment.
  • Many women are eligible for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for breast reconstruction.

To learn more about breast cancer, mastectomies, and breast reconstruction, contact Dr. Brantner’s office.

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