If you want to find the most experienced and skilled surgeons for breast reconstruction, it may be necessary to travel away from home to ensure you get the results you desire and deserve.
I wanted DIEP flap reconstruction, an option not offered by any plastic surgeons in my area, so I knew I would have to travel away from my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. Fortunately, I was able to find what I wanted by driving an hour and a half to Cincinnati, Ohio to see the surgeons of Midwest Breast. There are several factors I think are important to consider when traveling for surgery. Insurance, medication refills, travel time, expenses, and distance from your surgeon. Most importantly, you have to know how crucial it is to choose quality over convenience in this life altering decision.
Insurance & Medication Refills
I didn’t have any issues with my insurance coverage being out of state during any of my procedures or surgeries. I did call my insurance company prior to my consultation just to be certain, they informed me the coverage would be the same, regardless of location.
After surgery you will most likely be prescribed a narcotic pain medication. These types of medications are controlled substances and can only be filled with a new written prescription from the prescribing physician. Meaning, if you run out of the medication, but you are still experiencing pain, the doctors will not be able to call in or fax a refill for you. The best way to manage this is to discuss it with the surgeons prior to your discharge from the hospital and have it written for a larger quantity, if possible. Another option is to ask for a new prescription at one of your post operative appointments, just plan accordingly so that you do not run out in between visits.
Time & Travel Expenses
If you plan ahead, you can really minimize the number of trips you will have to make prior to surgery. For example, I was able to schedule my pre surgical consultations and post op visits with my breast surgeon and plastic surgeon on the same day. Midwest Breast is very good at coordinating visits with the breast surgeons they collaborate with in Cincinnati and Columbus. Typically, you will have two consults prior to surgery and a follow up appointment at one, two, and four weeks after surgery. I was also able to schedule my pre op CT scan and breast MRI on the same day, as well as my pre admission testing at the hospital. If you mention you are coming from out of town when scheduling, most of the time they are able to get appointments scheduled at least on the same day, if not back to back. I would always make the best of each trip by taking time to visit local attractions or try out a new restaurant. On some occasions my whole family would come and other times my husband and I used it as a date day! After one of my appointments, we visited Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati as a family, it was so much fun! The kids loved the playground and water fountains, I really enjoyed relaxing on the giant riverfront swings. Best of all, it is free, so you can have lots of fun without added cost! It is only a short distance from The Christ Hospital. http://www.mysmaleriverfrontpark.org/
If you need to stay overnight in a hotel during a visit or if family members wish to do so during your hospital stay for surgery, often times hotels near the hospitals will offer hospital discount rates if you ask at the time of booking.
Distance from your surgeon
One of my biggest concerns about being an hour and a half away from my surgeons was what I would do in case of an emergency after surgery. I knew there would be no surgeon at my local hospital that would have any clue what to do with my DIEP flap reconstructed breasts. Thankfully, this really wasn’t something I needed to be concerned about. The vast majority of the time, any emergency situation that occurs with the reconstruction is going to happen within the first day or two, while you are still in the hospital. After you return home, Dr. Tiwari, Dr. Kocak, and Dr. Chin are no further than a phone call or an email away. They never hesitate to address your concerns as quickly as possible. Even if issues arise that do need medical attention, they will let you know if you need to be seen immediately or if it can wait. This was a priceless part of the experience for me, I knew I could trust them to address every concern I had at any time, as quickly and compassionately as if they were right across the street from me.
Breast reconstruction is major surgery and it is a major physical, mental, and financial investment. Even when insurance covers most of the medical expenses, you still have time off work, travel expenses, and recovery items to consider, so you want to be sure it is done right the first time. Knowing I would see my reconstructed breasts every day for the rest of my life, I wanted to have the best results possible so that it wouldn’t be a daily reminder of what I lost, but new breasts that felt as natural, normal, and feminine, as possible. I got exactly what I wanted and it was worth every single mile!
Dr. Kocak and Dr. Tiwari recently posted great blogs about the best places to eat, stay, and play in both the Columbus and Cincinnati areas. If you do have to travel for your appointments, make the most of it by having some fun experiences along the way!