Breast reconstruction surgery offers women a way to rebuild not just their breasts but also their self-esteem and confidence after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This type of surgery consists of a number of procedures from which women can choose, from traditional implants to the newer and more advanced DIEP flap surgery, whereby tissue from the abdominal region is used to build the new breast(s). Successfully taking advantage of breast reconstruction surgery requires you to choose a surgeon with the experience and training necessary to walk you through your options and perform the procedure that will work best for you. Here are some of the steps you should take to help you find the right doctor for your own breast reconstruction surgery.
Gather local suggestions from others for a breast reconstruction surgeon.
The first step in finding the right doctor for your breast reconstruction surgery is to gather suggestions from trusted and knowledgeable sources. The best place to start is with the surgeon in charge of your mastectomy. This person should be familiar with the surgeons in your area who can provide skilled and professional breast reconstruction surgery for you. In addition, you might want to consult any friends and family you know who have undergone breast reconstruction surgery themselves. They can direct you toward the surgeons who they found to be skilled and helpful in their own cases. Finally, you can consult online sources to find a qualified local surgeon to perform your breast reconstruction surgery. Often, you can find lists of plastic surgeons by looking at the websites of local medical centers or by consulting websites such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
Check the breast reconstruction surgeons’ certifications.
Once you have a list of names of surgeons to consider, you should check their certifications to make sure they possess the experience and training necessary to perform breast reconstruction surgery. In particular, any surgeon you choose should be certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). ASPS certification is not required for a doctor to perform plastic surgery. However, it does tell you that the surgeon possesses a certain level of skill in plastic surgery. An ASPS certification means that the surgeon is more likely to be equipped to perform successful breast reconstruction surgery. Any surgeon certified through ASPS must fulfill a list of requirements that guarantees a certain level of competence. Most important among these is that they have undergone at least six years of training after medical school. Three of those six years must have been in a plastic surgery residency. In addition, an ASPS-certified plastic surgeon must have passed comprehensive oral and written examinations and be certified by either the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Finally, they must work out of accredited surgical facilities. In addition, you should check to see whether the doctors on your list have privileges at any of the hospitals in the area. They should either be performing their surgeries out of the hospital or have operating privileges at a nearby hospital. These privileges are only granted to surgeons who have demonstrated an ability to perform the surgical procedures they offer.
Check the breast reconstruction surgeons’ expertise.
Most plastic surgeons have certain areas in which they are particularly skilled. For example, some may focus on implants while others perform flap surgeries, and still others focus particularly on DIEP flap surgeries. Other plastic surgeons, like Dr. Potter, have expertise in a wide array of reconstructive options. Certain procedures require additional training in order to be performed correctly. For example, DIEP flap surgery requires training in microsurgery and can only be successfully accomplished by a handful of surgeons across the country. If you are pursuing one of these more specialized options, you need to make sure that any surgeons you consider have the necessary training. In order to identify the right doctor for your breast reconstruction surgery, look at the expertise of each surgeon you are considering. Find out what procedures they are experienced in, and whether they have the microsurgery training necessary for DIEP flap surgery. In addition, look at how many surgeries they have performed, and the success rate of those surgeries. This information should help you identify the surgeons who have the most expertise. You may need to talk with multiple surgeons to find out what all of your options are regarding your breast reconstruction surgery, and to find a surgeon who can perform the procedure you want.
Schedule consultations for your breast reconstruction surgery.
Once you have narrowed your list down to a few surgeons, schedule consultations with each of them in order to get a better idea of what they can do for you regarding your breast reconstruction surgery. The consultation is a meeting during which you and the surgeon will go over your medical history and health, your body type, your goals and preferences, the details of the procedures you choose, and any questions that you have. The consultation is also a chance for you to ask any questions you have. Following are a few of the questions you might want to ask during your meeting with the surgeon:
- What is the best breast reconstruction timing for me?
- What breast reconstruction procedure to you recommend for me and why?
- What is your experience with this breast reconstruction procedure?
- Do you do nipple reconstruction?
- What results can I expect from the surgery?
- How should I prepare for the surgery?
- What does recovery from this breast reconstruction surgery look like?
By the time you leave the consultation, you should have a better idea of what the surgeon can do for you and of what the surgery might require.
Take compatibility and comfort into account when choosing a breast reconstruction surgeon.
At the end of the day, you will need to take all of the information you discover into consideration when choosing the right doctor for your breast reconstruction surgery/DIEP flap surgery. The key is to find a surgeon with the skills and experience necessary to perform breast reconstruction successfully. In addition, however, you need to choose a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable. Your consultation should leave you feeling confident about the surgeon’s ability to tailor the breast reconstruction procedure to your particular needs. If you are looking into breast reconstruction surgery, consider consulting with Dr. Potter. She has the training and experience necessary to perform a wide range of breast reconstruction procedures. In addition, she has undergone training in microsurgery and has performed numerous DIEP flap surgeries successfully. She possesses the expertise and training necessary to help you identify and undergo the right breast reconstruction surgery for you.