Breast cancer reconstruction is often misunderstood since information concerning the procedure is somewhat limited. According to an online article on www.WebMD.com breast reconstruction options without using implants are choices women are taking advantage of. If a woman so chooses she could have her breast reconstructed using her own body tissue. This is most commonly known as a flap procedure. This operation requires moving healthy tissue from one area the body to the chest using one of two methods commonly known as either tunneling or free- flap. If tunneling is used the tissue remains attached to the original blood supply. The surgeon will tunnel the specific tissue underneath the skin and then place it in the new area that is being reconstructed. The free flap procedure actually disconnects the tissue from the original blood supply and then reconnects it to the new reconstruction site using the blood supply that exists in the chest area. For both procedures the tissue is likely to come from muscle and skin taken from the abdomen. Once the tissue, muscle, and fat has been transplanted the plastic surgeon shapes and contours the transplanted material into the contour of a breast. If the abdominal tissue is not an option the surgeon may choose to use multiple sites including tissue from the back or buttocks. The advantage of using a woman’s own tissue is that it is likely to result in a much more natural feel and resemble the characteristics of natural breast tissue. The limitations of flap surgery include increased risk of surgical complications as well as an extended hospital stay following surgery. Most women can return to normal activities within six weeks after surgery. Strenuous exercise may be restricted for up to several weeks. The shape of the reconstructive breast will gradually improve over time and it is important for patients to be patient while waiting for the final results. Breast reconstruction has no bearing on the recurrence of breast cancer and patients can be treated for breast cancer even if breast reconstruction has taken place. Generally it does not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Breast reconstruction is not considered a cosmetic procedure but rather part of the treatment of the disease and the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act mandates that insurance providers provide coverage for breast reconstruction. Patients should be aware that each carrier will vary in its coverage so it is important to familiarize yourself with the details of your plan. Remember that coverage is mandated and that it is the right of every woman. Dr. Seify urges patients to consider breast reconstruction early in their diagnosis. Dr. Seify will work closely with all other treating physicians including the radiologist, oncologist, and general surgeon to be sure that the best reconstructive options are available for the patient. Generally, the earlier that breast reconstruction is introduced as an option, the more choices a woman has in choosing her method breast reconstruction.