These are some questions that I am asked frequently. I will answer them to the best of my ability but I am not an expert.
1. Did your insurance pay for the testing? Yes, our insurance did pay for genetic testing based on our meeting with a genetic counselor and she was the one who spoke with the insurance company and recommended that my mother have the testing done.
2. Did your insurance pay for the procedure? Yes, if your insurance covers mastectomy, they must by law cover the reconstruction method of your choice…this was a new law passed in 1998.
3. What is a Gap flap? (answer from http://www.naturalbreastreconstruction.com/gap-flap.asp) “Women who are thin or who have minimal tummy tissue can also benefit from this procedure. In the GAP Flap, tissue is taken from the buttock area. The skin, fat and tiny blood vessels are removed through an incision that can be hidden under the panty line. Depending on a woman’s shape and where she has extra tissue, the area above the buttock to include the love handle or hip area can be used with this technique. If someone’s extra tissue is in the lower buttock or saddle bag this area can be considered as well.
The microsurgery techniques used by CNBR surgeons spare the gluteal muscle, and forms the tissue into a new breast mound. The added benefit: patients also receive a buttocks/thigh lift!
Although the GAP flap is the least commonly used of all flaps due to its technical difficulty, our two expert surgeons are within the tiny percentage of microsurgeons in the United States who routinely reconstruct both breasts at the same time with GAP flaps. While technically demanding, GAP flaps often produce a more youthful appearing breast than the DIEP.”
4. Why did you choose natural breast reconstruction over implants? I ultimately chose a harder initial recovery (choosing tissue flap reconstruction) over potentially having to replace implants later in life. I also felt more comfortable knowing that I had no foreign objects in my body. I’m still “all me”.
5. How did you find your doctor? I learned lots about breast reconstruction from the FORCE website (www.facingourrisk.org). I was able to use their message board to ‘talk’ to other women who had been through breast reconstruction, see pictures of reconstructions and ask lots of questions. I heard about Dr. Craigie and Dr. Kline from the FORCE as well as some other doctors and started calling to do my research.
6. Why don’t you just do surveillance? Since I am BRCA 1+ the surveillance for breast health is to have a screening every 6 months (MRI and mammogram or MRI and ultrasound). If you have ever had a screening and had “something” found you know how stressful that is. I couldn’t stand the thought of 50-60 years of MRI’s and mammograms and biopsies and lengthy stressful periods of waiting for results. I HAVE chosen to do surveillance for ovarian cancer for a couple more years…but really there’s no good surveillance for ovarian cancer. I’m just holding on for a couple more years.
7. Do you have pictures of your reconstruction on your site? No I don’t have any pictures posted but I valued highly the ability to see what this would look like as I was going through this. I’m happy to share with anyone if it will help them through their journey but they aren’t on here for everyone to see.
I’d love to answer any questions you have. If you have a question you’d like answered here please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org