Medically necessary breast surgery is a big decision. Unlike cosmetic breast surgery, which is an elective procedure, medical breast surgery isn’t always voluntary and is generally sought as a life-saving treatment. At Manuel Gigena MD Plastic Surgery in McMinnville, OR, our experts understand that making the decision to have a mastectomy deserves compassionate care and attention.
What Is Mastectomy?
A mastectomy is a breast surgery that removes the entirety of breast tissue that may be affected by abnormal or cancerous cells. This surgery essentially removes the breasts from the body in order to prevent the spread of cancerous cells. Sometimes, this procedure can also remove muscles from the chest wall or lymph nodes beneath the arm, depending on the diagnosis and the needs of the patient.
The decision to have this particular breast surgery is usually determined by consultation, a thorough examination of affected breast tissue, and other medical information. This surgery can be performed on one or both breasts. There are a few variations that may be more appropriate for your medical needs and your appearance goals.
Mastectomy With Breast Reconstruction
It’s common to pair this breast surgery with breast reconstruction. A breast reconstruction surgery essentially creates artificial breasts that mimic the appearance of your natural breasts. During your breast surgery, skin-sparing techniques will be used so that the nipple, areola, and skin of the breast can be used to reconstruct the breasts.
Breast reconstruction involves the use of implants such as saline, silicone, or gummy bear. Your implant material will affect the appearance and feel of the artificial breasts; likewise, the shape of the implants will also determine what your breasts will look like after you have recovered from the procedure. We will guide you through the process of selecting the implants that will meet your aesthetic requirements.
Also called a lumpectomy, this particular surgery only removes a small to moderate amount of affected breast tissue. A lumpectomy is an ideal treatment for women who need to remove abnormal cells but who also want to preserve as much breast tissue as possible.
Depending on how much breast tissue was removed during the lumpectomy, it’s possible to combine this treatment with minor reconstructive techniques that will preserve the appearance of the breasts. Fat grafting, fat transfers, and even small implants can be used to maintain the appearance of the breasts.
Why Might You Need This Surgery?
Choosing medically necessary breast surgery is a personal healthcare choice, so there are several reasons why women may choose to have this surgery. However, because these surgeries are not cosmetic, the motivation for seeking this surgery is usually associated with treatment for serious medical conditions, such as cancer.
Breast cancer is the primary reason women seek breast surgery. Breast cancer can be very aggressive and spread quickly through the breast tissue, which necessitates the removal of all breast tissue to stop the further spread of abnormal genes.
Although chemotherapy and radiation can be effective treatments for some women, those who have advanced breast cancer or breast cancer that appears likely to advance quickly may benefit from breast surgery. In fact, breast surgery to remove abnormal tissue is a common treatment element for many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
BRCA Gene Mutation
The BRCA gene mutation is another common reason to seek breast surgery. Both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are indicators carried by women who have a genetic history of breast cancer. In other words, women who had mothers, aunts, or grandmothers with breast cancer may also carry genes that cause breast cancer.
For that reason, women who test positive for either BRCA gene mutation may choose to have breast surgery as a preventative measure. This means that younger women may seek bilateral surgery or a lumpectomy to prevent the future development of breast cancer. Because women with BRCA gene mutations are more likely to develop cancer in both breasts, bilateral surgery is generally the best option to prevent cancer development.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do You Have to Have Breast Reconstruction?
The choice for whether or not to have breast reconstruction surgery will depend on how you feel and what you want to look like after your surgery. Many women choose breast reconstruction because they want to feel normal or like themselves after breast surgery. Other women choose to not have breast reconstruction for various reasons. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
2. Is It Better to Have a Bilateral or a Partial Surgery?
Whether or not you should have a bilateral or partial surgery will be determined by you and your medical team. Depending on the type of breast cancer or breast cancer risk you have, it may make more sense to have a bilateral surgery, particularly if your breast cancer is potentially aggressive. Partial surgery may only be necessary for women who have precancerous cells or who are in the early stages of breast cancer.
3. How Long Is Recovery?
In general, the recovery period after breast surgery will take several weeks. Most women will need to stay in the hospital for up to three days post-surgery and will need to take time off work for at least four to eight weeks, or until the drain from the surgery is removed.
4. Is This Surgery Covered By Insurance?
Yes, both bilateral mastectomy and partial lumpectomy are covered by insurance. This is because these breast surgeries are medically necessary and are not sought for cosmetic reasons.
That said, many women also choose to compound their breast surgery with breast reconstruction, which can also be covered by your insurance company. Please review your insurance plan to determine if additional procedures, such as breast reconstruction, will be paid for by your insurance.
Be Proactive About Your Health
The decision to have medically necessary breast surgery is one that can save lives. Women who have breast cancer or who have genetic indicators for breast cancer are good candidates for bilateral surgery or partial lumpectomy. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.