BRA Day Raises Awareness about Breast Reconstruction Options and Insurance Coverage

Wednesday, October 15 is Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) day. BRA day is a collaborative effort between The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, The Plastic Surgery Foundation, plastic surgeons, breast centers, nurse navigators, corporate sponsors and breast cancer support groups designed to promote education, awareness and access regarding post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

October 7, 2014

Wednesday, October 15 is Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) day. BRA day is a collaborative effort between The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, The Plastic Surgery Foundation, plastic surgeons, breast centers, nurse navigators, corporate sponsors and breast cancer support groups designed to promote education, awareness and access regarding post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

A study* from The American Society of Plastic Surgeons shows:

  • 89 percent of women want to see the results of breast reconstruction surgery before undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Less than 23 percent of women know the wide range of breast reconstruction options available.
  • Only 22 percent of women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected.
  • Only 19% of women understand that the timing of their treatment for breast cancer and the timing of their decision to undergo reconstruction greatly impacts their options and results.

These numbers tell us that we simply aren’t doing enough to educate women about their reconstructive options. The choice to undergo reconstructive surgery after mastectomy or lumpectomy is a personal choice. In addition to coping with the new diagnosis of cancer, these women are faced with the options of surgical treatment that they fear will leave them “disfigured” or “less of a woman.”

For women undergoing partial mastectomy or lumpectomy, the amount of tissue needed to remove the full tumor is often so large that they are left with a significant deformity of the breast.

But there are many choices available to address these cosmetic concerns.

Plastic surgeons have expanded on our breast reduction techniques to develop a technique called Oncoplastic Surgery. This procedure is planned much like a traditional breast reduction or breast lift. The tissue that is normally discarded after a breast reduction is left attached to the breast and used to fill in the defect left by the removal of the tumor.

The breast can be reconstructed after mastectomy on one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral). And thanks to the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, federal law requires most group insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction. Reconstructive options include:

  • Saline or silicone breast implants
  • Tissue expanders followed by the placement of breast implants
  • Autologous reconstruction, a procedure that uses tissue from the abdomen, back, inner thighs or buttocks to reshape the breast mound. Following breast reconstruction, the nipples can be reconstructed and the areola can even be tattooed on the reconstruction to make the breast appear more real and natural.

Breast reconstruction is a highly individualized process. To find out what options are available to you or your loved one, it’s best to make an appointment with a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon that specializes in breast reconstruction.

Plastic surgeons have the fortunate job of giving back to women what their diagnosis of breast cancer has taken away. Our goal is not only to reshape and rebuild the breast, but also to rebuild our patient’s self-esteem, dignity and confidence.

To make an appointment with one of our Breast Reconstruction surgeons at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, please call 202-444-8751.

**Source: The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of ASPS from July 26-30, 2012 among 1,204 adult women ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact the [email protected].

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