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FAQs About Natural Breast Tissue Reconstruction

What is natural breast tissue reconstruction?
Natural or autologous breast reconstruction is a microsurgery technique that uses a patient’s own tissue—from her abdomen, buttocks, or thighs--to rebuild the breast. Using the body’s own tissue (skin and fat) to make a breast results in a more natural, long-lasting reconstruction. Years of research and commitment to refining techniques have allowed the physicians at New York Center for the Advancement of Breast Reconstruction at NYEE to perfect superior methods that use a woman's own body tissue without the need for implants or sacrifice of muscles in the abdomen. 

What is autologous or “flap” reconstruction?
Autologous or “flap” reconstruction is the same as natural breast tissue reconstruction (see above). 

What are the options for breast reconstruction?
The different types of natural tissue breast reconstruction surgeries: DIEP, SGAP and IGAP, TUG, and PAP differ only in where the replacement skin and fat are taken from (abdomen, buttocks, or thighs). 

Who is a candidate for natural breast tissue reconstruction?
Anyone is a candidate. Almost all women, even very thin women, have usable skin and fat somewhere on their body and can have natural breast tissue reconstruction. Even if you’ve had implants placed previously, but are unhappy with them, you can have natural breast tissue reconstruction now. To find out if the surgery is right for you, make an appointment to speak with one of the plastic surgeons at the New York Center for the Advancement of Breast Reconstruction. 

How many natural breast reconstruction surgeries do doctors perform at NYEE each year?
At the New York Center for the Advancement of Breast Reconstruction, we perform nearly 150 natural breast reconstruction surgeries each year, without muscle sacrifice and the frequent complications associated with such a procedure. NYEE is fortunate to have on its staff the pioneers in the DIEP perforator flap technique and in the nipple sparing mastectomy, allowing us to offer techniques frequently lacking in many other centers.

How does chemotherapy and radiation affect a woman’s choices for reconstruction?
Each patient’s case is different, depending on her type of cancer, pathology, oncology recommendation, and personal preferences. Please talk to your doctors about what’s best for you. At NYEE, we’re happy to speak with you at any point in your journey; we can provide you with a first, second, or third opinion on when and how reconstruction best fits into your overall treatment plan and lifestyle.

What is the quality of life like after natural breast tissue reconstruction?
Once a natural breast tissue reconstruction is completed, the scars fade and improve over time. The breast feels natural, and some women even report a degree of sensation eventually returning to the area. After recovery, there are no restrictions to physical activities and emotionally most women report the reconstruction greatly helping their self-esteem and hope for the future.

What is the cost of breast reconstruction and is it covered by insurance?
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires group health plans, insurance companies, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) that pay for mastectomy to also pay for reconstruction of the breast removed with mastectomy, surgery and reconstruction of the opposite breast for symmetry, and treatment of any complications. For more information, visit the Department of Labor’s website or call 866-444-3272.

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