I spoke with my plastic surgeon, Donna Krummen, regarding explanations that I found helpful in my process of choosing a doctor, and then the experiences during and after surgeries.
KG:Have many women approached you for a prophylactic mastectomy? If so, have you noticed an increase or decrease in the number of women requesting the surgery lately? Approximately how many do you perform per year?
DK: I have treated many women for a prophylactic mastectomy. In the past, it was usually for fibrocystic disease or a strong family history of breast cancer. However, in the last few years with the increase in genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene carrier status, the number of women testing positive for these defects and requesting a prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction has skyrocketed. I would estimate that I see at least ten patients per year for a prophylactic mastectomy and most carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
KG: When researching methods of reconstruction, where would you recommend a patient begin?
DK: I think the best place to learn about breast reconstruction and the available methods is to schedule an appointment and meet with a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. I have found that online searches can be very confusing and the type of information that is available is not always applicable to all patients. I think that an hour consultation spent with a qualified plastic surgeon is probably the best way to quickly learn a lot of information about what is available and what is best suited for you based on the surgeon’s opinion.
KG: What qualifications should a patient look for in a surgeon?
DK: Your plastic surgeon should be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. They also should be a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery. If the doctor only operates in his or her office operating suite and only accepts cash and not insurance for breast reconstruction, these are possible warning signs that the surgeon is not a board-certified plastic surgeon. Most initial stages of breast reconstruction are best performed in a hospital setting; however, cases can vary.