Experts speculate that Applegate will have what Roberta Gartside, MD, a Virginia plastic surgeon, said last week is the most popular breast cancer reconstruction option: an implant expander and an implant. After all breast tissue is removed, a temporary expander is put into each breast to stretch the skin so that there is enough of it to cover the implants, which are inserted in a future surgery. A few months later, the areola and nipple can be created on each breast.
Many women don't choose it
Yet not all women who have their breasts removed choose reconstruction; in 2007, 20,900 of the 78,000 women who had mastectomies did not elect to reconstruct their breasts. Why not?
What worried the seminar panelists were racial gaps in the reconstruction numbers. African Americans, for instance, are half as likely as whites to choose it after a mastectomy. They may not be getting the information they need or have access to a reconstruction team with a plastic surgeon, or they may face financial or insurance barriers, Dr. Alderman says. Some women may not know that insurance coverage for post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is mandated by the 1998 Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act.