Raising awareness of breast reconstruction options

Published On: Dec 24 2013 11:24:18 AM EST   Updated On: Oct 16 2013 06:51:20 AM EDT

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but October 16th has been designated to make women more aware of a very specific aspect of this fight -- breast reconstruction. 

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, or BRA Day USA, is an initiative designed to promote education, awareness and access topost-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

Experts say many women who undergo a mastectomy are not aware of all of the options available to them.  Patients like Lisa Milenkovic, who had her breasts removed before talking to a reconstructive surgeon.

"I think I was still so overwhelmed with the diagnosis, so I don’t know if maybe emotionally I was even ready to deal with that," said Milenkovic.

Experts say it is critical to include reconstructive surgeons on your care team right from the start.

"Very often, the result may have been better if they had started the process at the time of the initial diagnosis, and the time of the mastectomy," said plastic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Weiser.  "They may have been able to undergo fewer procedures, and had a faster recovery."

Focusing on life after cancer may also help patients manage the fear and stress of making decisions about treatment. 

"If I'm able to tell her that she's a candidate for immediate reconstruction with a plastic surgeon who's going to be able to rebuild the breast the same day that I remove it, there's a look of relief. And now, she's able to listen to what I have to tell her, because she knows there's hope for her," said Phyllis Neimark, a surgical oncologist.

To learn more about Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, visit www.bradayusa.org.

Local awareness events will be held in Birmingham and West Bloomfield:

Dr. Ellen Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

390 Park St. Ste. 201, Birmingham

October 16, 2013

5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Bra decorating contest, balloon launch and raffle

Forté-Sosa Plastic Surgery

5641 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield

October 17, 2013

10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Bra decorating contest & open house


Slideshow: Decorated bras


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