Restored Breast Sensation: Breast Reconstruction

Restored Breast Sensation: Breast Reconstruction I am a patient who has restored breast sensation after breast reconstruction.  As a patient advocate who educates and speaks to hundreds of women and men about all options for breast reconstruction I am aware that many who choose breast reconstruction experience numbness and a variety of new sensations in their reconstructed breasts. I am referencing a recent article in the New York Times, After Mastectomies, An Unexpected Blow: Numb New Breasts. I respect but don’t fully understand the statements from patients experiencing numbness regarding their experience with their own reconstructed breasts.  Specifically, these: The statement under the photo taken from the article Re “Mastectomy, Then Shock: Lost Feeling” (front page, Jan. 30): Dane’e McCree with her daughters, Marleigh, left, and Brooklyn, in Grand Junction, Colo. “I can’t even feel it when my kids hug me,” Ms. McCree said after a breast reconstruction surgery. Credit 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 →

Breast Reconstruction ~ Concealing Scars After Mastectomy

Breast Reconstruction ~ Concealing Scars After Mastectomy Breast reconstruction and concealing scars after mastectomy is a certainty for patients post surgery.  There are those who bravely bare their scars as a symbol of strength and what they have been through.  But for many, hiding the scars of breast reconstruction is a skill and becomes a sort of creative art. Various Surgeries ~ Various Scars There are abdominal scars and breast scars if you have had DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  LAT flap will leave you with scars on your back and breasts.  TUG flap will leave you with breasts and inner thigh scars.  PAP and GAP flap will leave scars at the breasts and buttocks areas.  Those who have immediate breast reconstruction will likely have the least amount of scars on their breasts, but scars nonetheless. Placement of scars is a topic that should definitely be brought up in the initial 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 →