Ask the Expert: Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy

Ask the Expert - Breast Reconstruction Surgery

(KUTV) Some women going through breast cancer treatment will need a mastectomy. For many of these women, breast reconstruction is a very important part of their cancer care journey. There are two main options for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

“There is tissue-based reconstruction and implant-based reconstruction,” says Dr. Jeremy Rinard, Plastic Surgeon at Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital.

Each method has pros and cons, and some patients may be a good candidate for one over the other. This is why it’s important to meet with a plastic surgeon who offers all options before considering reconstruction.

Tissue-based reconstruction is usually done at the same time as mastectomy and uses a woman’s own body fat to rebuild her breasts. The most common tissue used is lower-abdominal fat.

“When we take that tissue from the lower belly and reconstruct a breast out of that, it’s great because we have a breast made entirely of lower abdominal fat,” says Dr. Rinard.

This allows the breast to feel and look very natural. If a woman is so lean that she doesn’t have enough extra tissue, or if she’s currently struggling with uncontrolled diabetes, obesity, or high-blood pressure, then tissue-based reconstruction may not be possible.

The second option is implant-based reconstruction which often times is a two-step procedure.

“The first step is where we usually place a tissue expander which helps make a pocket or expand the tissue so we can place a permanent silicone implant,” says Dr. Rinard.

The second step is then placing the implant. This method typically has a quicker recovery and is often times an easier procedure to go through.

One important thing to know about breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is that it is covered by insurance.

“I think one of the most common misbeliefs about breast reconstruction is that it’s not covered by insurance – breast reconstruction by federal law is always covered by insurance companies,” says Dr. Rinard.