Jennifer, a breast cancer survivor, underwent a bilateral nipple sparing mastectomy with Dr. Scott Timbert and bilateral breast reconstruction with Dr. Alan Larsen. The breast reconstruction performed is a nipple sparing technique developed by these surgeons for women with larger breasts called the "peek-a-boo" procedure.
Traditionally, nipple sparing mastectomy's were limited to women with small breasts but this revolutionary procedure, we refer to as the "peek-a-boo," allows us to save nipples and areolas for women with larger breasts.
Jennifer, 32, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has completed 2 of 3 stages of her breast reconstruction process. She has been kind enough to share her inspiring journey and victorious battle with breast cancer to help other women find strength and hope.
At Buckhead Plastic Surgery, Atlanta
Breast reconstruction is an integral part of breast cancer treatment. The procedure is performed when one or both breasts are removed due to cancer or another disease. The latest reconstructive surgery techniques, along with advanced medical devices, have made it possible for plastic surgeons to reconstruct the breasts in a way that comes close to matching the form and appearance of a natural breast.
With immediate breast reconstruction (right after mastectomy), the patient can wake up from the procedure with a new breast and be spared the experience of seeing herself with no breast.
Breast Reconstruction is ALWAYS Covered By Insurance
Federal law mandates that breast reconstruction be covered by health insurance.
All of the various techniques are covered, including the DIEP Flap, SIEA Flap, GAP Flap, TUG Flap, TRAM Flap and implant reconstruction, in all breast cancer patients who have undergone mastectomies, if the mastectomy is also covered.
Insurance companies must also cover surgery on the opposite breast to achieve reasonable breast symmetry.
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 entitles persons who have undergone mastectomy to:
- reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy has been performed
- surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance
- prostheses and treatment of physical complications at all stages of the mastectomy, including lymphedemas
- one home health care visit within 48 hours of hospital discharge
- outpatient care following a mastectomy performed in a health care facility
- inpatient and skilled nursing facility care in which the length of stay is determined by the treating physician based upon generally accepted criteria for safe discharge
When is Breast Reconstruction Performed?
Appropriate candidates for breast reconstruction include those who have undergone:
- Mastectomy, or breast removal
- Lumpectomy, or breast conserving surgery
The best candidates are women whose cancer, as far as can be determined, has been eliminated. Many breast cancer patients are candidates for reconstruction during the same operation in which the breast is removed.
Depending on the patient and her treatment plan, breast reconstruction can be performed immediately or several months later. In some cases, the patient does not feel mentally prepared to undergo reconstructive surgery. Several months after mastectomy, she may seek out a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction.
How it's Done
There are many different breast reconstruction techniques, but they can be divided into two basic categories: implant based techniques and autologous methods.
Breast Reconstruction With an Implant
Implant based methods for breast reconstruction are frequently performed using a technique called tissue expansion. The doctor inserts an expanding implant beneath the chest tissue, which is gradually filled with saline to make space for the implant and recreate the breast mound. Other procedures that use implants may involve the creation of a tissue flap (the Latissimus dorsi flap, for example) that makes a pocket where the breast implant can reside.
There are several flap techniques that use the patient's own tissue to reconstruct the breast. A flap of tissue can be transferred from the back, abdomen or buttocks. A blood supply for the graft can be transferred from the donor site, or it can be sourced elsewhere and then connected to the graft using microsurgery.
Average recovery time for breast reconstruction is:
- Recovery time: 4-6 weeks
- Resume normal activity: 12 weeks
Recovery depends on the technique and extent of your surgery. Patients should expect to spend up to five days in the hospital. A surgical drain may be placed to remove excess fluids from surgical sites, but this is typically removed within a week, along with sutures or stitches. Implant-based breast reconstruction generally has a quicker recovery time than other techniques.
Schedule Your Consultation
Do you need more information about breast reconstruction in Atlanta? We encourage you to contact the office of double board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alan N. Larsen. Our plastic surgery office is located in the Buckhead area of North Atlanta. Call (404) 367‐9005 to inquire about a consultation.