When you’re making decisions about breast cancer reconstruction and who should perform your surgery, trust is likely paramount in your thoughts.
That is just as it should be – because finding a breast cancer reconstruction specialist that you trust, in NJ or elsewhere, means that you can expect the very best results possible. When you choose a highly accomplished and credentialed surgeon, you can be confident that you will receive the outcome discussed between you and the surgeon in advance.
Whether you are currently pre-mastectomy or post, make sure that the breast surgeon you choose has your trust and confidence. The lower your stress level going into surgery for breast reconstruction, or any surgery for that matter, the better your outcome will likely be.
The NJ Breast Reconstruction Blog: Our Goals
While it’s a huge challenge to control stress at this time in your life, in our experience at Cohen/Winters, once you’ve chosen your breast reconstruction path and found your surgeon, anxiety is typically greatly reduced. How do we know?
At our aesthetic and reconstructive surgery practice in Bergen County, we perform reconstructions regularly and find them to be our most rewarding area of expertise.
We have talked with and operated on thousands of women in need of reconstructive breast surgery after cancer or injury. For us, there is nothing better than seeing a woman through breast reconstruction surgery and supporting the complete healing process. But we want to do even more.
We’re dedicated to helping women through breast cancer reconstruction with information and insight, even if you don’t live here in NJ and even if you are not our patient. (If you are local, we’ll provide a no-charge consultation at our offices to help you with more personalized information.)
For those who are merely reading and researching, we want the information in this blog to help you in your journey toward a bright, happy and healthy future.
Here we’ll list the key hallmarks of the very best plastic surgeons in breast cancer reconstruction today–and we’ll help you narrow your search to find the right breast reconstruction surgeon for you.
The Best and Brightest Surgeons in Breast Cancer Reconstruction: Where Are They?
As you begin your research and surgeon search, first comes online research and recommendations from your current medical team – or family and friends who have been in your shoes.
Getting familiar with surgeons online is a great shortcut, helping you to find out which surgeons merit a meeting/consultation. Before meeting with (or making a final selection of) your breast surgeon, make sure they have the following basic qualifications.
These may not seem so basic, but the bar is very high when you are seeking successful breast reconstruction, natural looking and feeling breasts and a quick and uneventful healing process.
Reconstructive breast surgery requires much more skill and experience than simply placing breast implants or doing a breast lift, although these are some elements that may be involved in your breast reconstruction procedure.
How Can I Find the Right Surgeon for My Breast Reconstruction?
Surgical qualifications to look for, at minimum, and how to find them:
- State licensure and record – You can search by the physician’s name by visiting the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners online to see the physician-specific NJ Health Care Profile or calling the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs at (609) 826-7100 for assistance. In the physician profile online, you’ll find other useful details like disciplinary actions, if any.
- Board certification by the ABPS (the American Board of Plastic Surgery) ?– To learn whether your surgeon has this Board Certification, check the website or call 1-866-ASK-ABMS (the American Board of Medical Specialties). As evidence of the most thorough education, a surgeon should be certified in both general surgery and plastic surgery. Be aware that some doctors list specialties on their own practice websites, even without having a proper certification in that specialty from the only recognized medical board, in this case: the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
- Surgical operating privileges at a well-known hospital – Especially impressive is a university hospital, such as Hackensack University Medical Center here in northern NJ. This provides extra vetting of surgical skills and performance since the hospital board must evaluate/monitor the competency of the breast reconstructive surgeon before granting or renewing operating privileges.
- Over a decade of experience performing breast reconstruction – Breast cancer reconstruction requires in-depth expertise in all aspects of breast function, breast health and the natural aesthetics of the breast. It is more complex than breast augmentation or other aesthetic breast surgeries.
Meeting with Your Breast Reconstruction Surgeon
Once you have selected 2 or 3 surgeons with the above qualifications, begin your meetings. (Some of the best breast surgeons in NJ will not charge you for an initial consultation. You can learn a lot, even from the surgeons you ultimately do not work with.)
Now you can separate out the best NJ-area surgeon for you. Look for these qualities when meeting with your surgeons:
- Good communication – Do you have a rapport with the surgeon? Do you feel respected? Were you given time to ask questions? Did you get a response that you clearly understood, or lots of jargon? (Keep asking until you understand everything, but you should not have to try too hard. Your surgeon should want you to understand, rather than becoming impatient.) Your surgeon should explain their recommendations on the following:
- Breast implants, if needed in your reconstruction; which type and placement
- Type of flap surgery if needed
- Tissue grafting and where tissue is taken from; placement of incisions
- Breast lifting or recontouring that may be necessary
- Nipple reconstruction and the areola
- The timing and number of procedures needed
- How asymmetry may be dealt with
- Any pros and cons to methods presented
- And more details
- Honesty – Only if your goals and your surgeon’s expectations for your outcome match, and are explained/communicated honestly, will you be truly satisfied with your surgical result.
- Excellent surgical judgment and decisiveness – Yes, this comes with experience but it is not automatic. You can get a sense of this after you and your surgeon discuss his or her strategy to achieve clear surgical goals to bring you the best outcome.
- Photos you can see and/or recent patients you can talk to – Speak with a former patient and/or view and discuss photos of past patients with your surgeon.
- Dedication – Do you feel your surgeon will be happy only when you are happy? Choose someone who is invested in the success of your surgery and truly cares about your outcome. Yes, your NJ surgeon is an expert and is busy, but you should feel a sense of dedication and you should feel respected. You should not feel rushed, nor should any of your concerns be ignored.
- Trust – Choose the surgeon with whom you feel a rapport. Remember how crucial trust and confidence are in ensuring a good surgical experience and outcome from your breast cancer reconstruction procedure.
What About the Risks of Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Your surgical risks will be unique to your overall health, age, the results of your cancer treatment (the amount of scar tissue from prior surgery or treatment, for example) and the strategy chosen to achieve your final reconstruction.
Remember that your NJ breast cancer reconstruction surgeon will not go forward if he or she feels that the risks outweigh any benefits for you in your breast reconstructive surgery. All risks related to your specific breast reconstructive surgery must be clearly explained to you before you go forward.
Although there are always risks and possible complications to any surgery, you minimize the chances of these issues when you choose your surgeon wisely. That’s partly because a top breast reconstruction surgeon has the experience required to anticipate problems and avoid them—and the impeccable surgical technique and judgment to deal with any complications safely and successfully.
We hope that this information has helped you frame your thoughts about your breast reconstruction. Please be sure to write down (or store in your smartphone) any questions that may have come up in the course of your research and bring them when you meet with reconstructive surgeons.
When you are ready, please feel free to contact Cohen/Winters Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery here in the Bergen County area of New Jersey for a no-charge, personalized consultation about the options for your breast reconstruction.