Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits

Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits A question was posed to me recently about breast reconstruction travel and post-op visits. The question was this: Terri – when you traveled for your DIEP, did you travel back/ forth for all the follow up visits also?  So, wondering how all the follow up visits go in a situation like this? How long did you stay in SA while recovering? It is an important question to ask. I had the same question before my own DIEP flap surgery.  DIEP flap is a very specialized breast reconstruction surgery using the patient’s own tissue.  There are few qualified micro-surgeons who perform it with a high rate of success and have amassed a great number of flap surgeries performed.  When the numbers are extrapolated, there is not even one in every state.  It makes sense, then, that to find a highly-qualified micro-surgeon, patients frequently must travel for Continue Reading →

ERAS ~ Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

ERAS ~ Enhanced Recovery After Surgery I love it when I can say, “I learned something new today” and last week it was about ERAS, Enhanced Recovery After Surgery.  I was having a conversation with the plastic surgeon who performed my DIEP flap breast reconstruction, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo.  I asked him if there were new protocols or changes in patient care during recovery in the two years since my DIEP flap surgery.  A smile came across his face and I could tell he couldn’t wait to tell me about ERAS.  He eloquently told me about the philosophy and implementation of this protocol and I was captivated.  It must have been the look of complete amazement on my face because he smiled and said, “You should write a blog about it.”  Nothing like a little challenge from a world class micro-surgeon to bequeath a bit of pressure for my next writing Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Sights and Sounds of the Hospital

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Sights and Sounds of the Hospital Your senses can become fine tuned to the sights and sounds of the hospital stay after your DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  Whether you have been in hospital before or not there are many things to deal with when you are out of the comfortable environment of your own home and bed.  Our five senses, taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing, connect us to everything around us.  Let’s look at what that means while recovering from DIEP flap breast reconstruction during your hospital stay. Tastes The taste that you have in your mouth post-surgery can only be described by the individual.  My perception is one of a medicinal, antiseptic taste.  You have been anesthetized for a long period and the drugs used will linger on the tongue.  Your mouth will be dry and you will not be allowed fluids of any kind Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Fears

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Fears Why do patients fear surgery for breast reconstruction?  It’s just another piece of the anxiety puzzle after a breast cancer diagnosis.  You’re faced with the dreaded news that a best or only option for your treatment plan is a mastectomy.  Lose my breasts?  Your head starts reeling and you think about what you will look like losing the body parts that most defines you as a woman.  There will be scars, pain, recovery, time away from a job and family, anesthesia, medical and insurance costs, and oh yes, what about getting all that cancer out of my body during surgery!  The list goes.  I decided to explore some of these fears in a poll.  I asked members of a Facebook page I manage in support of those going through breast reconstruction.  What they fear and what they go through in their diagnosis and decision to have Continue Reading →

Recap #PSTM16

Recap #PSTM16 Plastic Surgery the Meeting may seem like a distant memory but a recap of #PSTM16 from a patient advocate standpoint summarizes the value of my first experience as an attendee.  It was a fast and furious weekend for me at the Los Angeles Convention Center since I was only able to attend Friday through Monday.  I scheduled classes to attend, met with plastic surgeons, and walked the vendor floor learning about products specific to breast reconstruction. The Educational Programs The first class I attended was one that focused on Cultural Competence in plastic surgery.  I wanted to step outside the box of breast reconstruction a bit and understand the broader world of plastic surgery.  It was a valuable instructional course.  The discussion given by a variety of plastic surgeons at this session focused on recognizing and embracing cultural diversity in the workplace among plastic surgery co-workers as well 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 →

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 →

The Psycho-social and Psycho-sexual Benefits of Breast Reconstruction

The Psycho-social and Psycho-sexual Benefits of Breast Reconstruction The psycho-social and psycho-sexual benefits of breast reconstruction have been studied in a number of peer reviewed articles.  Sharing evidence based research is a key component to my advocacy work.  It is important to me that studies have been done and data has been collected from patients who have had reconstruction to assess the impact and outcome of such a complex surgery.  These studies validate the information I share. A Personal Account of the Benefits I did a lot of research before my DIEP flap reconstruction but not specifically about the psycho-social or psycho-sexual benefits.  Keeping that in mind, this blog for me, is truly a personal account of what impact my own reconstruction had on my self-image and femininity.  I am not yet comfortable dipping my toes in the water of revealing the impact on my sexual well being as it Continue Reading →

Shared Decision Making

Shared Decision Making ~ Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy March has been designated Shared Decision Making month, #SDMmonth, by a group I started following on social media, Informed Medical Decisions Foundation.  I participated recently in one of their online webinars on the topic.  I often tweet about shared decision making and in the practice of plastic surgery, and in particular breast reconstruction after mastectomy; I embrace the value of this practice. Two of the physicians that I have engaged with in the practice of shared decision making are my breast surgeon who performed my mastectomy and my micro-surgeon who performed my breast reconstruction.  They both embody the very definition of the phrase as defined here by the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. Shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows patients and their providers to make health care decisions together, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as Continue Reading →