A Patient Advocacy Story

A Patient Advocacy Story Breast Reconstruction Awarenss Day 2015, a patient advocacy story, begins with an inspirational moment; a moment that was a true catalyst to a new found purpose in my life. Where was the inspiration? Why would a patient become an advocate and subsequently an affiliate to promote a nationwide campaign for breast reconstruction awareness following a cancer diagnosis and mastectomy? Easy answer! The plastic surgeon I chose to do my DIEP flap surgery and the patient liaison that was my first point of contact at their group WAS my starting point. When something feels right, I move on it. It was my moment of inspiration. I was asked to share my reconstruction surgery experience with other women who were considering the same type of surgery. I wanted to pay it forward and let other women know about this group, their skill, success rate, credentials, compassion and the Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Recovery

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Recovery Fat grafting after breast reconstruction recovery is a much quicker process especially if you have had DIEP flap surgery.  Phase one is typically a six week recovery.  The fat grafting surgery is typically day surgery and you will be back home or back at your lodging that evening if you have traveled for the procedure. I addressed the side effects of anesthesia here.  Another post written about post surgical garments after fat grafting can be read here.  I wanted to outline some common side effects of the fat grafting procedure and what you can expect in this blog. Fatigue during Recovery When you wake up from surgery you will be shaking off the anesthesia and will feel fatigued for a period of roughly a week.  This will depend on each individual and the extent of the surgery.  We each bounce back at different rates and Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Garments

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Garments Fat grafting breast reconstruction garments will vary depending on your particular procedure and where the fat is taken from to be injected back into your breasts.  The practice of using compression garments also varies among plastic surgeons. Fat grafting is done to achieve symmetry after implants are placed or autologous flap surgery is done.  There are often areas that have a look of indentation or a divot after phase one of DIEP flap or after implants are placed for breast reconstruction.  These are the areas that benefit from fat grafting. It was my experience that a fuller, smoother and more uniform look to my breasts was achieved from both of my fat grafting procedures.   The appearance of your breasts when you wake up from surgery will be slightly different after six months due to a couple of factors; you are swollen after surgery and some Continue Reading →

Anesthesia Recovery Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction

Anesthesia Recovery Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Anesthesia recovery after fat grafting breast reconstruction as well as for phase one DIEP flap breast reconstruction have  similarities.  I will, however, focus on my most recent experience, phase two and the fat grafting portion of breast reconstruction. Anesthesia Preparation The routine for this surgery includes check-in at the hospital, dressing into surgical garments, and being wheeled into the surgical holding area to talk to your physicians before surgery.  It has been my experience that the first physician you speak to is the anesthesiologist.  The anesthesiologist will go over your health history.  One of the key topics they ask you about is your tolerance to anesthesia and if you experience nausea when waking up from surgery.  This is a dreaded side affect for many going into any type of surgery. I have been very fortunate waking up nausea free from phase one and phase Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting: Breast Reconstruction – Prep, Packing and Pre-op

Fat Grafting: Breast Reconstruction – Prep, Packing and Pre-op Fat grafting for breast reconstruction requires prep, packing (if you will be traveling to your plastic surgeon) and a pre-op routine before your surgery and the morning of your surgery.  This was my personal experience for my most recent fat grafting.  There may be subtle differences as each plastic surgeon has their own protocols but there will be similarities to give you a sense of what you will need to do. Insurance Coverage This was my second fat grafting.  Insurance does not always cover the cost of a second fat grafting in breast reconstruction.  This will depend on the amount of fat grafting that needs to be done, areas that need to be addressed to achieve symmetry, and of course your insurance coverage.  It is getting challenging for plastic surgeons to cover additional fat grafting beyond the first one that is Continue Reading →

Inspirational Connections through Breast Cancer

Inspirational Connections through Breast Cancer A true blessing and bonus of educational outreach is inspirational connections through the breast cancer community.  I recently received an email from Cinde and she humbly asked to write a guest blog about how she came to develop her drain carrier after surviving breast cancer three times.  Like me, Cinde has undergone DIEP flap breast reconstruction .  Naturally, I was curious to hear her story and after reading it I am honored to share this guest blog.  Cinde is not only providing a product for breast cancer patients but her outreach became global and continues to positively impact women in Karunga, Tanzania. Thank you for sharing this guest blog to the breast cancer community, Cinde. Post-Op Drain Management and the Mamas of Kilimanjaro   I’m a four-time cancer survivor, three-time breast cancer survivor.   After being diagnosed with cancer so many times — and surviving Continue Reading →

Hidden Costs of Traveling: Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Hidden Costs of Traveling: Breast Reconstruction Surgery No one knows the hidden costs of traveling for breast reconstruction surgery more than the patient themselves.  I just returned from recent fat grafting as part of my own my own DIEP flap breast reconstruction. The costs are fresh in my mind and I feel it is an important topic to write about. The WHCRA (Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998) is outlined in this article. A portion of the article states: This federal law requires most group insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction. It was signed into law on October 21, 1998. The United States Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services oversee this law. The devil is in the details.  Look carefully at the wording, especially the word, “most”.  Insurance is becoming challenging for both patients and physicians.  Costs, restrictions, increased deductibles and co-pays Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Consult: The Physical and Technical Component

Breast Reconstruction Consult: The Physical and Technical Component This blog discusses your breast reconstruction consult, the physical and technical component of your DIEP flap surgical visit with your plastic surgeon.  I wrote part one dealing with the emotional and psychological aspects of the visit here and another blog on the abdominal examination portion of your consult here.  Your plastic surgeon will work with his nurse at this initial consult to gather all the pertinent information needed to optimize your surgical results for your DIEP flap surgery. Each of us goes into this appointment with unique circumstances in terms of both our bodily structure and overall physical health.  I will walk you through my own personal case but know that yours will be exclusive to your situation.  However, there will be similarities and my hope is to give you an idea of the steps that are done during this consult and Continue Reading →

5 Things to Look for: Hospital, PRS: DIEP flap Surgery

5 Things to Look for: Hospital, PRS: DIEP flap Surgery Here is your list of 5 things to look for in a hospital and plastic reconstructive surgeon (PRS) before your DIEP flap surgery.   The list could fill a book; however, the purpose of this blog is to hit on five important topics that may well be priorities on the patients’ list of items to inquire about before surgery. No. 1 ~ Hospital Accreditation This might not be a question that you would even think to ask.  But, the reputation and accreditation of the hospital facility that your plastic surgeon practices at should be of great importance to you for your reconstructive surgery.  Odds are, you have been extremely wrapped up in the details of your breast reconstruction surgery and the outcome itself, but knowing the official endorsement of the facility is just as important.  When hospitals are accredited through national Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Consult DIEP flap Surgery: The Power of Two

Breast Reconstruction Consult DIEP flap Surgery: The Power of Two You may bring someone with you to your breast reconstruction consult for your DIEP flap surgery but it is the power of two, you and your plastic surgeon, that are the two key players at this all important appointment.  This topic is worthy of a two part blog.  Part 1 will touch on the potential emotional and psychological aspects of the visit and part 2 will discuss the actually physical and technical part of the visit.  I have learned a lot reflecting on the experience of my first visit with my plastic surgeon.  I have gained yet a different perspective from speaking with other women about their experience and what this involved for them. What I do know is this; the appointment needs to be a home run for both you and your plastic surgeon.  You need and want to Continue Reading →

Ray of Sunshine after Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Ray of Sunshine after Breast Cancer Diagnosis It just doesn’t seem that a ray of sunshine might even play into the discussion the day I was told I had breast cancer does it?  There actually was that one ray of sunshine for me and here is that story. The Breast Cancer Diagnosis The day of my second breast cancer diagnosis I was sitting in the office of my breast surgeon, Dr. Michele Ley, who I had seen about five years previously to remove a benign area in my left breast.  I chose to go to her because I was very impressed with her demeanor, compassion, confidence and skill for that minor surgery five years ago.  I was asked by the radiologist who did my biopsy for this second diagnosis if I had a breast surgeon in mind to go over the final results of the biopsy report.  I immediately asked Continue Reading →