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Options in Cosmetic Surgery for Breasts (Mammoplasty)

Breast Reconstruction continued...

The procedure recreates a breast with the desired appearance, contour, and volume. The nipple and areola also are recreated. Normal breast sensation and normal breast function, as with nursing, do not usually return when the sensory nerves or milk glands and ducts have been removed or significantly injured.

The appearance, contour, and volume of the breast can be recreated with implants or with a woman's own tissue. If an implant is used, the implant is sized to match the opposite breast. When possible, the implant is placed beneath a chest muscle. A breast also can be recreated using a woman's own tissue. At times, a segment of the lower abdominal wall can be used. Other tissue options for autologous (using your own tissue) reconstruction are back muscle and skin or fat and muscle from the buttock. Sometimes surgery on the opposite normal breast will be required to create symmetry with the newly reconstructed breast.

Breast reconstruction can be done at any time after you have had a mastectomy. The procedure has no known effect on the recurrence of cancer and it does not appear to affect cancer surveillance. However, you will be instructed on breast self-exams and scheduled for routine follow-up appointments for surveillance.

Breast Lifts (Mastopexy)

In some women, the skin is not strong or resilient enough to support the weight of the breast, causing the breasts to sag. With this condition, called ptosis, there is too much skin compared to breast tissue. To give the breast a lift, the excess skin must be removed. There are several surgical techniques used including:

  • Wise pattern. The incision, in the shape of an anchor, goes around the chest and below the breast.
  • LeJeour. The incision goes around the areola and down.
  • Donut or peri-areolar. The incision goes around the areola only.

This surgery involves some degree of permanent scarring, but products are available that may help to minimize the appearance of scars.

Will Insurance Cover Cosmetic Surgery for the Breast?

Federal law requires that insurance covers breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. In the case of a cosmetic procedure, however, you should check with your insurance company for details, and talk with your doctor about associated costs.

It's important to know that if you've undergone breast implantation either as an aesthetic or a reconstructive procedure, your health insurance premiums may increase or your coverage may be dropped. In some cases, you may also be denied future coverage. Also, if you experience complications from such procedures, many insurance companies will not provide coverage.

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