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Healthbeat 4: Breast reconstruction; what patients need to know

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) —  You often hear about the importance of mammograms during breast cancer awareness month.

However, one topic that is often left out is breast reconstruction.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 266,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

However, only about 20 percent of women understand all their breast reconstruction options.

When undergoing treatments for breast cancer, the decisions can be daunting.

What happens afterward can be scary as well, unless the patient understands the options.

One of the options is breast reconstruction.

“In the US there are options for breast reconstruction using your own tissue, which is fat and skin from other areas of your body or implants,” said Dr. Laura McNaughton, Midlands Clinic Plastic Surgeon.

Dr. McNaughton is a plastic surgeon at Midlands Clinic in Sioux City.

She adds both options are a process for patients.

“Ladies undergoing implant reconstruction can do it staged process with the placement of a tissue expander, followed by an implant or they can have an implant placed directly. That reconstructive process usually takes between four and six months,” said Dr. McNaughton, “If ladies are undergoing autologous reconstruction using their own tissue that’s usually one major surgery and then it’s done but sometimes there are needs for small revisions later on.”

Experts say 80% of the time women choose breast implants over autologous reconstruction.

Dr. McNaughton says education is key for breast reconstruction.

“50% of women aren’t told that breast reconstruction is an option,” said Dr. McNaughton, “Women who do know it’s an option, patients come into my clinic thinking they have to pay out of pocket for it which is not true.”

Knowing all your options now to help prepare you for the future.

Dr. McNaughton says while only roughly a quarter of women get breast reconstruction that number has grown 40% since 2000.

She adds, patients often don’t know that reconstruction can be performed at any time in their journey.

If patients choose to delay it, by one month, six months, five years or even ten years after a mastectomy, Dr. McNaughton says it’s still covered by insurance.

To learn more about reconstruction options and results visit the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Campaign’s website.

Michelle Schoening

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