More and more women are traveling for breast reconstruction, but like skinny jeans and whipped cream, traveling to a distant surgical facility isn’t for everyone.
The thought of facing such a big operation away from home may seem overwhelming, particularly when you’re having to come to grips with the idea of losing your breasts, so you might ask yourself why anyone would deliberately add travel into the mix. The fact is, most women who have reconstruction do so close to home; however, there are many good reasons why traveling for breast reconstruction has become more appealing.
Maybe you have no reconstructive surgeons nearby. Or maybe you have your heart set on an advanced procedure--direct-to-implant, DIEP, GAP or TUG—but your local surgeons offer only traditional reconstruction (expander-to-implants, TRAM or latissimus dorsi flaps) that may involve lengthier recovery. In that case, you may need to travel to a nearby city, an adjacent state or across the country to find surgeons who perform the newer procedures. The good news for those who are willing to travel for breast reconstruction is that more surgeons now perform advanced procedures, increasing the chances that an experienced surgeon may be closer, rather than farther from your home.
Other factors may also influence your decision. You may want to travel to a highly-recommended surgeon or one who is more experienced with the procedure you prefer. Having extended family in a city with experienced plastic surgeons might also sway your decision, and be kinder to your budget. And the type of reconstruction you want may also play a role. If you’re interested in GAP reconstruction (where fat is moved from the upper or lower buttock to create the new breast), for example, it may be important to you to find a surgeon who performs bilateral simultaneous GAP, rather than others who perform GAP only one side at a time.
Cost can also be a significant factor. In many cases, it can be a deal breaker, especially if your healthcare company covers the cost of reconstruction only by surgeons and facilities in a preapproved network. In any case, health insurance does not typically pay for travel expenses or hotel costs related to surgery, and your out-of-pocket expense will be higher.
Journeying to another city for your surgery entails more time, cost, and careful planning, but after considering everything involved, you may find that it is worthwhile to pack up for a few days to get the surgeon and procedure that you want. More and more women are doing it, and out-of-town patients now make up a considerable part of many reconstructive practices. Your surgeon’s patient relations coordinator can facilitate your consultation appointment, coordinate insurance coverage, and help you navigate other facets of your surgical experience.
If you’re thinking about traveling for your breast reconstruction, consider the following: