October 17th is National Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. Also known as BRA Day USA is an initiative to promote education, improve access to and raise awareness about breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
Breast Reconstruction Awareness day began in 2011 in Canada. This year Jewel, the acclaimed musician, will donate all proceeds from the sale of her charitable song ‘Flower’ to the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund of the Plastic Surgery Foundation.
Research suggests that 70% of women are never informed about their options for breast reconstruction should they face the difficult decisions around breast cancer treatment which may include the need for a mastectomy. The biggest barrier to a woman learning her options for breast reconstruction is as simple as not being told that breast reconstruction is possible or supplying the newly diagnosed woman with a referral to a plastic surgeon.
It is estimated that 287,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. In 2010 only 93,000 women underwent breast reconstruction. Some of these women were treated with lumpectomy which typically does not require breast reconstruction, but the fact remains that many women are not undergoing breast reconstruction.
There are many types of breast reconstruction available. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. More detailed discussions can be found on my website and blog at drkobienia.com. In general, the first option is to do no surgical reconstruction. In this setting an external prosthesis is used. Simple recovery by quite disfiguring. Tissue expander and implant reconstruction is another technique. In this setting the breast is rebuilt using implants. The use of tissues from another part of the body, usually the back or abdominal region can also be considered. Generally the surgery and recovery are bigger and more involved but the results can be quite natural.
Look for answers to your questions. If you are a woman who has undergone mastectomy without breast reconstruction, I encourage you to visit us to learn about breast reconstruction. If you have undergone breast reconstruction inform your family, friends and coworkers – you can be a living breathing example as to what is possible.