Breast Reconstruction Rates Low After Mastectomy

By: Dr. Sean Kelishadi, M.D. FACS


Fewer than half the women who had undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer opted to have breast reconstruction, according to a study published online August 20, 2015 in JAMA Surgery.

I find that tragic. And I find the reasons why even more disconcerting.

Black women were less likely to undergo breast reconstruction, as were those covered by Medicare or Medicaid, older women, and those treated at rural or non-teaching hospitals.

About one-fifth of study participants who did not undergo breast reconstruction reported a lack of knowledge about the procedure.

More than one-third expressed a fear of implants.

Almost a quarter of women reported they were concerned that reconstruction would interfere with breast cancer detection.

Everyone at SSK Plastic Surgery in Yorba Linda, CA, has a special place in our hearts for breast cancer survivors and it is our privilege to help them feel whole again. So we’d like to set the record straight regarding breast reconstructive surgery in Orange County.

The coverage of post-mastectomy breast reconstruction by insurers was mandated in the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act in 1998. However, despite this guaranteed coverage, most breast cancer patients who undergo mastectomy do not opt for reconstruction, the researchers report. Barely 1 in 4 insured women had breast reconstruction immediately after mastectomy.

For all racial/ethnic groups, common reasons for not having reconstruction included the desire to avoid additional surgery (48.5%), a fear of breast implants (38.3%) and the feeling that reconstruction was not important (33.8%).

Most of the women were aware of the option for reconstruction; however, less than 15% reported not knowing about it at the time of their initial surgery.

At SSK Plastic Surgery in Orange County, we understand your reluctance to undergo additional surgery. Yes, recovery is tough. But there is a psychological difference between your mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Yes, your first procedure eliminated your cancer; but it left you scarred and perhaps feeling unattractive. But consider this: Reconstructive breast surgery will restore your appearance, leaving you with natural-looking breasts.

Regarding breast implants, yes, there have been problems with implants in the past. However, today’s implants, whether saline or gel, are far safer and more natural-looking than implants of past decades.

Whether you choose to undergo reconstructive surgery or not is a personal decision. But before you make your decision, please consult with SSK Plastic Surgery of Orange County before your mastectomy. You will discover a world of options available to you and a level of caring that you could not have imagined.

To learn more about how reconstructive surgery can help you, visit our Mastectomy page for more information, contact us through email, or call 949-652-2800.



* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.