Oncology Surgeons Learn Cosmetic Breast Reconstruction

Cosmetic surgery, once reserved for plastic surgeons, is quickly becoming a recurring trend as training and advanced technology allow for dual roles in the rapidly advancing healthcare profession.

Oncology surgeons are now adding breast reconstruction to their resumes. Cosmetic surgery, once reserved for plastic surgeons, is quickly becoming a recurring trend as training and advanced technology allow for dual roles in the rapidly advancing healthcare profession, according to a piece in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Women with breast cancer typically see a cancer surgeon to have the diseased tissue removed and subsequently see a plastic surgeon for reconstruction. Now, more cancer surgeons are getting trained in breast augmentation and restoration. Tagged "oncoplastic surgery," the procedure could allow a patient to minimize the number of times she must go under the knife. The procedure is so prevalent that just last month, the first school of oncoplastic surgery was announced by the American Society of Breast Disease (ASBD).

The upward trend has come about in response to a shift by oncology surgeons to conduct more cosmetic procedures. Yet, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of breast-reconstruction surgeries declined 29% to 57,100 last year from 2000, attributed in large part to poor insurance reimbursement for these procedures.

Breast cancer afflicts one in eight American women each year, and planning breast reconstruction simultaneously with tumor-removing surgery can speed a woman’s recovery time, both physically and emotionally. Quick planning also reduces the risk of complications from successive surgeries. (Read more about breast cancer facts and figures over the last two years at http://www.cancer.org/downloads/STT/BCFF-Final.pdf). Women with early-stage cancer undergoing a lumpectomy, a procedure the removes cancerous tissue while leaving most of the breast intact, are the primary candidate for this type of combination surgery. Oncoplastic surgery can sometimes benefit patients who must undergo a mastectomy, or total breast removal, by preparing their bodies for later reconstruction.

What many may be surprised to learn is that there is no professional certification for oncoplastic surgeons, so patients should be encouraged to inquire about a practitioner's training and experience before assuming it is the correct choice for them.

Additional Resources:

The American Society of Breast Surgeons

The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation

The Society of Surgical Oncology