AUSTIN (KXAN) – A nonprofit is offering free breast reconstructive surgeries to uninsured or underinsured breast cancer survivors in Austin. 

Mission Plasticos has provided free reconstructive surgical care to medically underserved communities around the world for the last 25 years. The Southern California-based nonprofit began in 2022 its Reshaping Lives: Full Circle initiative, which helps post-mastectomy women from underserved communities around the U.S. access breast reconstructive surgery at no cost. 

“A lot of our patients live in underserved communities – a lot of our patients are of Hispanic origin,” Adriana Murillo, Mission Pasticos’ Program Director, said. “They typically, because there’s a language barrier, do not know how to advocate for themselves within the community.”

Mission Plasticos will offer its services to women regardless of immigration status. 

 Dr. Johnny Franco, head of Austin Plastic Surgeon, conducted the first breast reconstruction surgery in Austin as a part of the Reshaping Lives: Full Circle initiative.

Franco said that there are instances where insurance companies will not cover breast reconstructive surgeries post-mastectomy. Research has shown that women are at an elevated risk of becoming depressed after having a mastectomy. 

“There are all sorts of different reasons that people fall through the cracks [where] insurance won’t cover,” Franco said. “That’s what’s really unique about Mission Plasticos is how they have kind of filled this gap.”

Franco said his team has the capacity to conduct over a dozen of these procedures a year, but said the biggest obstacle they face now is awareness. 

“Obviously, [cancer] was a traumatic life event,” Franco said. “The idea that they don’t have to try and stuff in one pad or be worried about being awkward in a dress…It’s the simple things of living everyday life and being there for their families that just have made such a big difference for [breast cancer survivors].”

Anyone in the community interested in accessing Mission Plasticos’ services can find more information on the nonprofit’s website.