Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day
Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, or BRA Day USA, is an initiative designed to promote education, awareness and access regarding post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. Singer/songwriter Jewel is the national spokesperson and has written a song to benefit breast reconstruction patients.
Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, or BRA Day, was first launched in 2011 in Canada and now will occur annually on the third Wednesday of October. It is an initiative designed to promote education, awareness and access regarding post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. The campaign will kick off in the United States for the first time on Oct. 17, 2012 as BRA Day USA. Singer/songwriter Jewel is the national spokesperson for BRA Day USA and has written a song, "Flower," to benefit breast reconstruction patients. The talented artist will also be giving a charity concert to raise money and awareness. All proceeds for both the song and concert will go to support breast reconstruction research and patient care. BRA Day USA is a collaborative effort between the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, The Plastic Surgery Foundation, plastic surgeons specializing in breast surgery, nurse navigators, medical device industry representatives and breast cancer support groups. These and other organizations, breast cancer patients, their families and friends coordinate events on BRA Day USA that include question and answer sessions, lectures, flash mobs, fundraising parties, advertising campaigns and community events.
Click here to purchase tickets to the Fashion Show
Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy
What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is achieved through several plastic surgery techniques that attempt to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size following mastectomy. There are three main steps in any breast reconstruction: Creation of a new breast mound Touch-ups of the reconstruction, and possible modification of the opposite breast (lift, reduction) in patients having a mastectomy of one side (optional) Creation of a new nipple and areola (optional) A more in-depth look at the steps in breast reconstruction can be found here.
Is it the right choice for you?
Most breast cancer survivors who have had a complete or partial mastectomy (removal of all or some of the breast tissue and nipple) are candidates for breast reconstruction. If you have had, or will need radiation therapy to the breast, it may influence the type of reconstruction, and when you can have it. Some patients will need chemotherapy after their mastectomy, and this too can affect the timing of your reconstruction.
While breast reconstruction is considered elective surgery, undergoing breast reconstruction can have profound emotional and practical benefits. It is also important to keep in mind that breast reconstruction does not interfere with the treatment of breast cancer or surveillance for recurrence. It can, however, help to enhance your confidence and self-image after mastectomy. The decision to have breast reconstruction is a personal one, to be made by you and your loved ones. It is important to know that not all patients are candidates for all types of reconstruction. The type of reconstruction you undergo will be decided by you and your surgeon, depending on your particular needs, anatomy and previous treatments.
Types of Breast Reconstruction
The three main types of breast reconstruction:
- Reconstruction Using Implants Uses an implant filled with silicone gel or saline to recreate the breast mound.
- Autologous Reconstruction Breast mound built using tissue "borrowed" from another part of your body.
- Autologous Tissue with Implant Your plastic surgeon and his/her team will discuss these methods with you and counsel you as to which option is best suited for you based on your physical and treatment characteristics.
Immediate vs. Delayed Reconstruction
Immediate can be either immediate (at the same time as the mastectomy) or delayed (at a later time). This decision may be dictated by the characteristic and stage of the breast cancer, and will be made together with your breast surgeon. In many cases, immediate reconstruction is a reasonable and safe option.
Immediate reconstruction has been shown to be a safe option for many women. In this type of reconstruction, the breast mound creation is done at the same time as the mastectomy. This can help minimize the negative effect that a mastectomy can have on body image and self-esteem. Immediate reconstruction also reduces the number of anesthetics required to complete the reconstruction. If you are interested in beginning reconstruction at the time of mastectomy, you must ask your breast surgeon to make a referral for you to see a plastic surgeon.
Delayed reconstruction is performed several months or even years after the mastectomy after other cancer treatments are finished. Generally we prefer to wait a minimum of 6 - 9 months following the completion of radiation therapy to allow time for the chest skin to heal before performing breast reconstruction.
|Surgery||2 separate shorter surgeries (2hr)|
|Hospitalization||Day surgery or overnight stay|
|Recovery||2 weeks following tissue expander insertion|
|Scars||Mastectomy scar only|
|Shape and Feel||No natural sag, firm over time|
|Opposite Breast||More changes needed to match implant|
|Complications||Breast feels more firm + less natural appaearing with time|