Costhetics is proud to be Australia’s leading source for news and information about cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery, and aesthetic enhancement.
We applaud the thousands of professionals who devote themselves to helping men and women look and feel their best. This is especially true about breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
Approximately 6,000 women in Australia undergo a mastectomy each year. However, despite the cosmetic and psychological benefits the procedure offers, only 10% of patients opt for breast reconstruction.
In the UK, 20% of breast cancer patients opt for reconstruction surgery, as do 50% of patients in the U.S. We wanted to know what was at the root of this discrepancy, so we did some digging.
Here’s what our team uncovered:
Breast Reconstruction Surgery Misconceptions
Until they are faced with breast cancer, few women have any idea what is involved in breast reconstruction surgery. That lack of knowledge leads to fears such as:
- Surgery will make my scars even worse.
- I’ll lose my nipples entirely.
- The process is painful.
- My breasts won’t look natural.
- The cost is too high.
These fears are largely unfounded. “When performed by a trained and experienced plastic surgeon, a breast reconstruction procedure allows a woman to contour her body to whatever proportions she finds desirable,” reports plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction expert Dr Benjamin Norris. “Patients are made comfortable with appropriate anaesthesia and pain medication, and today’s surgical techniques mean that scarring can be kept to a minimum.”
Traditionally, the loss of a woman’s nipples was a common result of mastectomy. Cancer surgeons considered nipple tissue the same as breast tissue from a clinical standpoint and it was removed. Today, the nipple is no longer a casualty of mastectomy. Because it is left intact, superior aesthetic outcomes are now possible with breast reconstruction.
As for costs, breast reconstruction surgery costs are generally funded entirely by Medicare in the public health system. Privately funded surgery costs vary widely. According to a 2011 survey by the Breast Cancer Network of Australia: patients incurred out of pocket costs ranging from $500 to $15,000.
Two Breast Procedures for One Great Outcome
In an interview with Cosmetic Surgery Times, Lisa B. Cassileth, M.D., FACS, revealed that she candidly tells her patients: “Sorry to be so superficial, but my job is to make you hot.”
Cassileth works with cancer surgeons to perform breast reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy in a process known as “immediate reconstruction.” After the surgeon removes the breast, the plastic surgeon then reconstructs the breast using tissue from another location on the body or with an implant, or both.
This approach has two key advantages:
- Surgeons create a perfect pocket for reconstruction the first time around.
- Patients are spared additional surgery and downtime.
Is Breast Reconstruction Surgery Right for You?
The choice to undergo breast reconstruction is a highly personal one. Some women want to erase any physical reminders of their cancer struggle, while others proudly display their scars as a “badge of courage.” At Costhetics, we think whatever you want is the right thing to do.