Breast reconstruction surgery is performed by a plastic surgeon, but it isn’t considered cosmetic (aesthetic) surgery. And while cosmetic surgery is plastic surgery, plastic surgery isn’t just cosmetic surgery.
"Reconstructive surgery” and “cosmetic surgery
" both fall under the category of “plastic surgery,” but these types of procedures differ based on the reason they’re performed. Plastic surgery, both cosmetic and reconstructive, aims to correct the appearance of an area of the body. However, this isn’t the only purpose of reconstructive surgery.
Reconstructive procedures are also performed to restore function and correct deformities caused by birth defects, injuries, or medical conditions. This includes surgeries like cleft lip/palate repairs, procedures to treat burn injuries, and breast reconstruction.
Cosmetic surgery is used solely to reshape and enhance the appearance of healthy areas of the body, often improving a patient’s self-confidence and promoting positive self-image. Breast augmentations, breast lifts/reductions, abdominoplasties, and liposuction are common cosmetic procedures.
This difference can become confusing when a specific type of surgery could be either a cosmetic or reconstructive procedure. For example, a rhinoplasty, commonly known as a nose job, can be performed exclusively to change the appearance of the nose. But it can also be used to repair an injury or birth defect and correct breathing issues.
The purpose of breast reconstruction surgery is to restore the shape, symmetry, and size of the breasts after mastectomy or lumpectomy. Because breast cancer is a medical condition, this reconstructive surgery is considered medically necessary.
The term "medically necessary"
refers to health care services/supplies needed to diagnose or treat an illness, injury, condition, or disease that meets accepted standards of medicine. Insurance coverage of a plastic surgery procedure depends on where it’s considered medically necessary.
Since 1998,the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act
has protected a woman’s right to have breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy due to medical reasons, such as a personal or family history of breast cancer or gene mutations associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. This federal law requires most insurance companies to cover reconstruction if they also cover mastectomy.
Knowing the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is also essential when looking for a plastic surgeon to perform breast reconstruction. It’s important to find a plastic surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)
and specializes in breast reconstruction. - this sentence has too many hyperlinks - let's just do the first one that links to the blog "How to Check your Plastic Surgeons" but link the "board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery."
If you wish to have natural breast reconstruction, you need to look for a plastic surgeon with specialized expertise in this kind of surgery. While many plastic surgeons can perform reconstruction, some may only offer implant-based reconstruction and/or procedures that use muscle (TRAM flaps
or latissimus dorsi flaps).
Some physicians advertise themselves as "cosmetic surgeons
," but this term can be misleading. Because there are generally no regulations on what a physician can label themselves as, cosmetic surgeons may not have the board certification and extensive training required to perform plastic surgery procedures. Any kind of plastic surgery, including breast reconstruction, should be performed by a surgeon certified by the ABPS, the only plastic surgery board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Breast reconstruction surgery can be an essential part of the healing process for many women after breast cancer. If you would like to learn more about your breast reconstruction options, visit our website.
We are also happy to answer any questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or via chat on our website.
Also be sure to check out our other blogs on breast reconstruction myths.
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