Finding a Breast Reconstruction Plastic Surgeon
How did you find your plastic surgeon? This poll question was posted recently on the closed, private Facebook page supporting breast reconstruction patients. These were the three response questions to choose from.
Recommendation from another physician, if so, which one in comments please. Oncologist, breast surgeon, primary care or other? 64 respondents
Online research? 20 respondents
Recommendation from a friend? 17 respondents
Question 1: Recommendation from another physician.
Of the 64 respondents, not all listed the type of physician they received their recommendation from in the comments. Here are the results of the respondents who did comment.
- Breast surgeon: 37
- Oncologist: 4
- Primary Care 2
Other listed referrals included the following:
- Mammography technician
- Receptionist at an oncology office
- Nurse practitioner
- Breast cancer patient navigator
- Genetic oncologist
It is interesting to note that most women got recommendations from their breast surgeons. I was fortunate to hear all options for breast reconstruction, implant and autologous (using your own tissue), from my breast surgeon who performed my double mastectomy. However, I did my own research on-line to find my plastic surgeon. After narrowing down my choices, I did tell her who I was strongly considering and she fully endorsed my decision. That gave me peace of mine in moving forward with who I ultimately chose to do my DIEP flap breast reconstruction.
There were respondents, although few commented on this, who were limited in their choices because of their insurance. Can this be a restricting factor for women or men seeking a well-qualified plastic surgeon? Perhaps, and if this is the case, it can be potentially limiting in finding the best qualified plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction.
From the poll, are we to assume that breast surgeons seem to be the most likely avenue for referral to a plastic surgeon to perform breast reconstruction?
Question 2: Online research
When I had the initial consult with my plastic surgeon one of the first questions he asked me was where I found him. I had to be honest and tell him that I researched on-line. His response with a smile on his face was, “You can’t believe everything you read on Google.”
I couldn’t agree with him more. It is imperative to view credentials to see where they were trained, note if your plastic surgeon is board certified, view their rate of success, ask to see before and after photos, and most importantly, ask to talk to other patients who have gone to the practice you are considering. These were some of the factors that ultimately solidified my decision.
After you have your initial consult and are prepared with a list of questions that have been satisfactorily answered, you generally have a good sense of whether it is a good fit between you and the plastic surgeon you have chosen. I would have certainly sought a second opinion if all my questions had not been answered to my satisfaction. I would have gone elsewhere if I did not leave the office with 100% confidence that my plastic surgeon was going to perform my breast reconstruction to my satisfaction, even after he discussed all the risks and possible complications with me. He exuded a humble confidence and that assurance put my mind at ease in my choice of plastic surgeons. You should feel that way when you leave the office of the plastic surgeon you choose.
Question 3: Recommendation from a friend
I find this to be a valuable resource for recommendation if you follow the same suggestions that I mentioned above for on-line research. Qualifications and credentials including board certification and number of successful breast reconstruction surgeries should be criteria for choosing your plastic surgeon.
Then you can ask your friend why they chose this plastic surgeon and perhaps even ask to see their results, if they are willing to show you. I certainly have shown my results to many women who are curious about outcomes. It is hard to visualize what a reconstructed breast will look and feel like to touch for someone who is considering the procedure. I had a highly skilled plastic surgeon so I have never had anything but a “Wow!” moment when I show my results to friends and yes, I let them touch my breast so they can feel how soft, warm, and natural they are to the touch.
I want to thank the members of DiepCJourney Facebook page for their responses. I will leave you with the list of questions I suggest all breast reconstruction patients consider when they are choosing their plastic surgeon. They are also listed under my resources tab on my blog page here:
It is imperative that these questions are addressed with any plastic surgeon and center they are affiliated with no matter what reconstruction choice you make:
- How many procedures have they performed?
- What is their success rate?
- Do they work with a team? The shared expertise is a factor as well as minimizing time for the patient and surgeon in surgery.
- Do they have before and after photos?
- Can they refer me to other patients who have been to them so I can speak to them about their experience?
- What aesthetic outcomes can I expect based on my individual health history and case?
- What type of insurance carriers do they take?
- Will they accept insurance from out of state? These laws are tightening and it is a good question to ask as many patients travel across state lines to find the most qualified surgeon.
How did you find your plastic surgeon to perform your breast reconstruction? I’d love to hear from you.