Breast Reconstruction Can Be Performed Any Time, Even Years After Mastectomy

By: Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo

Blogs
September 28, 2011

Did you know breast reconstruction can be performed at any time, even years after a mastectomy?

“Immediate breast reconstruction” is performed at the same time as the mastectomy and typically provides the most natural results with the least amount of scarring. Unfortunately, for many women this simply isn’t an option.

In 2009, studies showed that 70% of women facing mastectomy were not told that reconstruction was an option. Many women underwent mastectomy only to find out some time later that they could have woken up from their surgery with new breasts instead of having to experience a flat chest. Thankfully, breast reconstruction education has improved significantly over the last few years.

Of the women who are informed, some may not have access to a reconstructive plastic surgeon where they live and have to travel for reconstruction, particularly for more complex tissue reconstruction options like the DIEP flap.

Other women may not be candidates for immediate reconstruction because unfortunately the breast cancer is too advanced at the time of diagnosis.

Sometimes radiation therapy is recommended as part of the breast cancer treatment. Most plastic surgeons still prefer to hold off on reconstruction until the patient is several months out from her last radiation therapy. This allows the tissues to recover and soften up as much as possible to improve the results of the subsequent reconstruction.

As you can see, there are several reasons why a women wanting breast reconstruction may not be able to have it at the same time as the mastectomy.

Whatever the reason for delay may be, it is important to remember there is no time limit when it comes to breast reconstruction – it can be performed at any time, even years after mastectomy.

Whether the reconstructive process is started at the time of the mastectomy ("immediate") or some time after ("delayed'), it important for patients to realize that in most cases, further surgery is required to complete the reconstructive process and achieve the best cosmetic results.

Like immediate reconstruction, “delayed breast reconstruction” is also covered by insurance regardless of how many years have passed since the breast cancer diagnosis.

Learn More About DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

7 Comments

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  • PRMA

    I waited 22 yrs to get mine done.

    Reply
  • PRMA

    I would really like reconstruction surgery since my mastectomy in 2004. I don’t know if Medicaid will cover it. Any advice on what steps to taje now would be very much appreciated.

    Reply
  • PRMA

    Very interesting

    Reply
  • PRMA

    I waited almost 5 years. And as much as they say that insurances pay for the surgery, the last phase of my surgery which included fat grafting to fix indentations and nipple tattooing, the insurance company denied the claim as cosmetic. Cosmetic my eye! Insurances are a ripoff! Just like botox shots in the legs and arms of my grandchildren who have cerebral palsy, how is this considered cosmetic! It’s used to release their stiff muscles so they can walk and use their left hands! I pray one day to be able to afford the last phase of my surgery as well as having a tattoo done on my new breast to hide the scars that are awful! Thanks for listening!

    Reply
  • PRMA

    Hello Cindy! Medicaid does cover breast reconstruction! When you are ready you should make a consultation appointment with a board certified plastic surgeon who has extensive reconstruction experience such as PRMA. You can always give us a call at 800-692-5565 and we can get the process started for you!

    Reply
  • Theresa Nelson

    I was wondering do you have any recommendations for Nampa Idaho area that would do the tummy tuck I believe it’s called DIEP Flap?  I have already had surgery with implant and have not been very happy with it now it is time to change out implant and thought I would try something different.  Thank you!

    Reply
    • PRMA

      Hey Theresa!  The DIEP flap does use the lower portion of your tummy (similar to a tummy tuck) for breast reconstruction.  It is not uncommon for patients to replace their implants with the DIEP flap.  We are not familiar with anyone in the Idaho area, but we do see patients from out of state (and all over the world) routinely.  If you are interested, we offer a FREE Virtual Consultation at https://prma-enhance.com/schedule-a-consultation/
      We also have a dedicated patient liaison who can assist you with travel arrangements and connect you with resources to help with any financial assistance.  We would be more than happy to discuss your reconstruction options with you at any time!

      Reply
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