Susan MacLennan, MD, is a plastic surgeon at the University of Vermont Medical Center

Susan MacLennan, MD, is a plastic surgeon at the University of Vermont Medical Center

BRA day? Why do we need a day to celebrate bras?

BRA Day actually stands for Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, and the second annual event takes place on October 16, during Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Why do we need to raise awareness of breast reconstruction? Surely, all women are educated about their options at the time of diagnosis? Each year more than 296,000 American women face breast cancer, but up to 70 percent of American women don’t receive information about reconstructive options when being treated for breast cancer. BRA Day is designed to promote education, awareness, and access to breast reconstruction after mastectomy.

Today, there are many different breast reconstruction options, which can be tailored to each woman’s individual body, preferences, and cancer type. Most women choose either “flap” reconstruction using tissue from the abdomen or elsewhere on their bodies, or implant reconstruction. New choices are available and include nipple-sparing mastectomies with one stage direct–to-implant reconstruction, microsurgical breast reconstruction, and building a breast with a woman’s own fat. There are now also options for lumpectomy reconstruction that may prevent the asymmetry that can result from breast cancer treatment. The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 is a federal law that ensures that insurance companies offer benefits for breast reconstruction, nipple reconstruction, and balancing procedures on the opposite breast to improve symmetry.

At the University of Vermont Medical Center, we believe that breast reconstruction can be part of a comprehensive approach to breast cancer. Studies show that women who have breast reconstruction have improvements in psychological, sexual, and social well-being. Not every woman will choose reconstruction as part of her treatment, but each woman deserves to be educated about her options.

The team approach to breast cancer treatment is alive and well here at the UVM Medical Center. We believe that teaming up allows us to provide a comprehensive approach to breast cancer. Integral to this cohesiveness is a weekly breast tumor board meeting that involves breast surgeons, oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, geneticists, nurses, clinical trial specialists, and more. This team approach ensures that key issues about each patient’s treatment are discussed and agreed upon so they can be communicated to the patient, helping each patient make the decision that’s right for her.

Find out more about breast reconstruction options at

For more information or for more information on how we can help you learn about your options, please visit UVM Medical Center Plastic Surgery.

Watch the WCAX-TV (Local CBS affiliate) interview with Dr. MacLennan.

Susan MacLennan, MD, is a plastic surgeon at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Learn more about UVM Medical Center Plastic Surgery

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