The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 conditions that insurance companies that offer mastectomy coverage must also provide coverage for all stages of breast reconstruction. Since 1998, there has been a dearth of scholarship regarding the percentage of women getting breast reconstruction procedures and factors influencing the increase, until now that is.
Led by Dr. Reshma Jagsi, associate chairwoman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Michigan, a recent study found that while more women are receiving breast reconstruction procedures, there is a huge variation on where breast reconstruction procedures are performed. For example, about 80% of women in Washington, D.C. receive breast reconstruction procedures in comparison to 18% of women in North Dakota.
The spotlight placed on the increase of women receiving breast reconstruction procedures is one that should be and is celebrated. However, one cannot help but feel sympathy or empathy for the women who: 1. do not have accessibility to plastic and reconstructive surgeons who perform breast reconstruction procedures due to their geography and 2. are not being referred to reconstructive surgeons due to their geography. The intellect, creativity, teamwork, and resourcefulness exhibited by medical professionals to advance breast reconstruction methods and techniques, are the same traits needed to provide greater accessibility and resources for women in areas with less accessibility to breast reconstruction surgeons.
In this study, Jagsi reviewed data for over 20,000 women who had received a mastectomy during the nine year period from 1998 to 2007. The rate of women receiving breast reconstruction procedures in the U.S. has increased greatly from 46% in 1998 to 63% in 2007. The increase in the amount of mastectomies and double mastectomies is due to such factors as advances in reconstructive techniques and greater knowledge about information and surgeons. Furthermore, The trend of women having more implant-based surgeries as opposed to autologous surgeries (using one’s tissue from other body areas), is due to reduced fear and stigmas associated with implants, and celebrity narratives about their personal health experiences.
Dr. Brian S. Coan is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon that offers breast reconstruction procedures across North Carolina, primarily The Triangle, and Alamance County. For the past five years, he has served at Alamance Regional Hospital as the first and only plastic surgeon that performs breast reconstruction procedures either with or without implant(s). If you are considering breast reconstruction, we encourage you to schedule a breast reconstruction consultation with Dr. Coan, or discuss your options with the CARE insurance coordinator, Jamie Anderson, by calling the CARE office at 919-484-4884. It’s a call you won’t regret.