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7 Things You Might Not Know About Delayed Breast Reconstruction

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Whether it’s been 20 days or 20 years since your lumpectomy or mastectomy, you’re likely a candidate for reconstruction.

More than 70 percent of women who forgo reconstruction at the time of their breast surgery don’t know it’s an option, don’t have access to a plastic surgeon, or are focused and worried about managing their diagnosis, says Gedge Rosson, director of breast reconstruction at Johns Hopkins.

Rosson and his colleagues Michele Manahan and Justin Sacks shed some light on what most people may not know about delayed breast reconstruction:

1. The vast majority of breast cancer survivors are good candidates.

While every patient is different and approaches to reconstruction may vary, nearly every breast cancer survivor who is interested in breast reconstruction is a candidate.

Schedule a consultation with a breast reconstruction surgeon to learn more. 

2. Breast reconstruction can improve your quality of life. 

“Perhaps nobody ever told you about plastic surgery and you’ve been walking around feeling less feminine or less whole. For patients like this, breast reconstruction can be life-changing,” says Sacks, Director of Oncological Reconstruction in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Leading studies that compared quality-of-life assessments for women before and after breast reconstruction, Rosson and Manahan found that reconstruction, whether immediate or delayed, can greatly improve a woman’s sense of wholeness and well-being.

Breast reconstruction can also alleviate pain and chest tightness associated with radiation treatment and, in some cases, improve nipple sensation

3. Prostheses can be cumbersome. 

Patients that opt for prostheses often find that they’re heavy and hard to fit with their clothing. Prostheses may also require regular replacement. Breast reconstruction can be a permanent solution to restoring your breasts to a more natural shape and size.

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Reconstruction after Breast Cancer | Pam's Story

Pam Vierra, a mother of three from central Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with breast cancer and decided to visit Johns Hopkins for a second opinion. She tells her story about her breast cancer treatment and breast reconstruction experience with the Johns Hopkins Breast Center and how it changed her life.

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4. You don’t have to live with jagged, indented scars.

Innovations in breast reconstruction surgery over that last decade have greatly improved appearance, including reducing the number of indentations and appearance of scars.

Surgeons at The Johns Hopkins Hospital perform the most advanced muscle-saving flap, fat grafting and implant procedures.

Watch this animated video to learn more about delayed reconstruction using tissue from the abdomen.

5. It’s OK to wait. 

In many cases, your reconstructed breast will look just as good whether you had reconstruction during your mastectomy or after.

“We really do believe it’s never too late,” says Manahan. “You can wait and put it off, and when you’re ready, we will have many good choices for you.”

Even if you were counseled against breast reconstruction at the time of your treatment, advances in reconstructive techniques may qualify you for the procedure. Schedule a consultation with a breast reconstruction surgeon to learn more. 

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Know Your Options for Breast Reconstruction

Most women treated for breast cancer are eligible for breast reconstruction—learn about your many options.

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6. You can pick an option that fits your lifestyle.

Your surgeon can work with you to create a customized treatment plan to suit your preferences. For example, you can choose between breaking up breast reconstruction into one longer surgery or several shorter and less invasive ones. You’ll also have the choice to have your breast reconstructed using your own tissue from your belly, thighs, buttocks or back. Additionally, you can select reconstruction using implants made of saline or silicone. 

7. It’s covered by insurance.

Health care costs are often a primary concern for patients facing any surgical procedure. For breast reconstruction after breast cancer, it doesn’t have to be. Federal law requires that breast reconstruction, in addition to other post-mastectomy benefits, be covered by medical insurance.

Visit the Johns Hopkins Breast Center to explore your options for reconstructive breast surgery or to request an appointment.

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