A prophylactic mastectomy is a procedure in which a surgeon removes the breast before cancer can develop. For patients who have a high risk of developing breast cancer, this surgical intervention helps prevent future occurrences of the disease.
For those considering a prophylactic mastectomy, a plastic surgeon-first consult can provide a more comprehensive treatment plan—including reconstruction outcomes—from the initial consult. If you or a loved one are considering a prophylactic mastectomy, this blog will help you understand how speaking with a plastic surgeon as the first step can improve the entire process.
Who Should Consider a Prophylactic Mastectomy?
Deciding to have this surgery is no small choice. You will have many other decisions to make regarding your treatment if you’re considering a prophylactic mastectomy, including who will perform your immediate reconstruction and what type of reconstruction you prefer. Before we delve deeper into those topics, let’s discuss who qualifies as a strong candidate for a prophylactic mastectomy.
You are a strong candidate for prophylactic mastectomy if you:
- Are positive for gene mutations that are linked to a high risk of developing breast cancer
- BRCA1/2 are the most well-known but other mutations in the PALB2, TP53, CHEK2, ATM, BRIP1, RAD51C, and RAD51D genes are also associated with an elevated breast cancer risk
- Have had a previous breast cancer diagnosis
- Have a family history with multiple female relatives who have developed breast cancer
- Have previously had radiation therapy to the chest
If these factors describe you, understand that there are other options besides preventative surgery. For instance, you can choose routine screenings to monitor for tissue changes to catch the cancer early—if it does develop.
Weighing options like monitoring or preventative surgery can feel overwhelming. While no one can make the choice for you, there are experts who can ensure you have all the information you need to make the right decision for you. Consulting with a plastic surgeon from the beginning enables you to see the final reconstruction outcomes for a better sense of the overall process and helps you feel empowered in your decision-making.
What Is a Plastic Surgeon-First Consult?
Suppose you don’t currently have breast cancer, but you are at high risk of developing the disease in the future. In that case, a prophylactic mastectomy could be considered a medically necessary option to prevent breast cancer from developing.
Choosing a prophylactic mastectomy allows you more time to make all the treatment decisions involved—but without the added pressure of a cancer diagnosis or the corresponding radiation and chemotherapy treatments necessary to eliminate the disease.
A plastic surgeon-first consult when you’re considering a prophylactic mastectomy offers you the following benefits:
Consulting with a plastic surgeon while you are considering a prophylactic mastectomy can help you see all the different treatment options available to you so you can make a fully informed decision and get the best outcomes for your physical health and mental well-being.
What Should I Look for in a Plastic Surgeon?
When seeking a plastic surgeon to perform your reconstruction after prophylactic mastectomy, you should consider the following things:
- Expertise – Is the surgeon an expert in the techniques you prefer? Do they know other expert breast surgeons to perform your mastectomy? A great plastic surgeon will have professional connections with area hospitals and specialists to provide you with comprehensive care.
- Surgical experience – How many specific reconstructions (of your preferred type) has the plastic surgeon performed? Do they typically perform this procedure, or do they use an alternative method? An expert plastic surgeon will tailor your treatment plan to your needs and goals for surgery and beyond.
- Before and after photos – A great plastic surgeon will have a portfolio of photos before and after their work that you can look through to see exactly what outcomes other women have had—and what you can expect.
- Personal connection – How comfortable do you feel with this plastic surgeon? Do they answer all your questions and make you feel seen and heard? Do you trust them with your health and surgical outcomes? Finding a surgeon isn’t just about who has the best skills; you should feel safe with the plastic surgeon who performs your breast reconstruction.
- Support team – How friendly is the front office staff? Is it hard to schedule appointments? Are they good communicators who give you all the information you need about your procedures and post-operative instructions? Do they know the ins and outs of insurance coordination? An expert plastic surgeon is good, but an expert plastic surgeon surrounded by a knowledgeable, personable, and helpful support staff is ideal.
Considering a Prophylactic Mastectomy? Choose the Professionals at Harris Plastic Surgery.
If you are considering a prophylactic mastectomy, you deserve a team that will make the entire process as easy for you as possible. The team at Harris Plastic Surgery is known for their dedication to patients and expert care coordination. From the front office staff and Joanne’s experience as a care coordinator and insurance liaison to Dr. Harris’s skills and connections in the field, you will be at ease throughout your treatment.
Stephen U. Harris, MD FACS
Dr. Stephen U. Harris is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon and recognized expert in breast reduction and reconstruction surgeries, having performed thousands in his career. When it comes to patient care, his philosophy is that every surgery should improve his patient’s overall quality of life, not just their appearance. Dr. Harris stays up-to-date on all the latest advancements in breast augmentation, reconstruction, and reduction and is a recognized innovator in the field. In fact, he was the first surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital to offer primary prepectoral implant breast reconstruction, as well as secondary prepectoral revision surgery.
Dr. Harris also serves as Chief of Plastic Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York and is an active staff surgeon (and former Chief of Plastic Surgery) at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York.