Wednesday, October 19th is national BRA Day USA, or Breast Reconstruction Awareness.
A day to close the loop on breast cancer and talk about the options of breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients and survivors.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime and of that number upward of 30 to 50% will have a full or partial mastectomy.
However, only a one-third of those patients are given any information about reconstruction options even though insurance is required to pay for it.
"Coverage certainly has helped, but we still only see, depending on what study you look at, about ten to 30 percent of women get reconstruction surgery," said Dr. Matthew Steele, plastic surgeon at Tri-State Specialists.
Breast reconstruction can begin at different times; either at the same time as the mastectomy or later after the patient has recovered from surgery or any additional cancer treatments.
"Typically what most patients will go through is the multistage reconstruction typically with what we call a tissue expander which is a salt water balloon for a lack of a better explanation that is placed usually at the time of the mastectomy," said Dr. Matthew Steele.
From there the surgeon will add saline solution to the expander until the breasts reach the size the patient desires.
"And then at a later time depending on whether chemo therapy is involved, radiation is involved then we will switch those out with a silicon implant," said Dr. Steele.
Other options include reconstruction using "borrowed" tissue from another part of the body --like the stomach, lower back or thigh --- by itself to build the breast or a combination of that plus implants.
Reconstruction is more than just plastic surgery, it can help patients also re-build their femininity and self confidence.
Tri-State Specialists will host an event on Wednesday, October 19th at 6:00 p.m. at M's on 4th to discuss options for women who have had a mastectomy and may not know all the reconstruction options.
If you'd like more information on breast reconstruction click here.