Why do I Marvel at Breast Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery?

Why do I Marvel at Breast Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery? I ask myself this question often: Why do I marvel at breast reconstruction & plastic surgery? October was a busy month for many who work in this field and educate about this topic. I think it was one of the busiest months I had this year. I was in six states and six different airports engaging with or educating about breast reconstruction with plastic surgeons, patients, advocates, and the public. I was exhausted yet exhilarated to know the innovations and developments in the field of breast reconstruction and plastic surgery continue to keep me motivated and captivated. It has been three years since my own breast reconstruction and yet, thinking back to November of 2014 and having no breasts on my body, it is easy to understand my own fascination with this topic. When you use your own tissue to Continue Reading →

How Long Does DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery Take?

How Long Does DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery Take? This is a question I wanted to write about after attending PSTM17 in Orlando as a patient advocate. Speaking to ASPS board certified plastic surgeons at the meeting afforded me the opportunity to understand the answer to, how long does a DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery take? It is an intricate, microsurgical procedure that includes incisions and work on both the abdominal area and the breast area. The assumption is, the surgery is long. In fact, when assessing my own DIEP flap, I often report my DIEP flap lasted nine hours. What we don’t often take into consideration is what the surgery entails from start to finish. I reviewed my own surgical report to write this blog. I also spoke with plastic surgeons at PSTM17 and wanted to share some important points of discussion. I gathered information from my sister, a nurse, Continue Reading →

From Nipple Sparring Mastectomy to DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

From Nipple Sparring Mastectomy to DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction A nipple sparring mastectomy to DIEP flap breast reconstruction can be a very successful surgical process after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I want to share my success story and reference articles that I have been reading about nipple sparring mastectomy (NSM). My NSM Experience: Breast Surgeon I credit my breast surgeon, Dr. Michele Boyce Ley, and my plastic surgeon, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo, for the success of my nipple sparring mastectomy and DIEP flap breast reconstruction. My NSM process began in my breast surgeon’s office the day we consulted about next steps after my second breast cancer diagnosis. She was very hopeful but realistic about saving my nipples while performing my double mastectomy knowing I had in mind that I wanted DIEP flap later. The MRI scan ordered prior to my mastectomy led her to make this pre-surgical assessment due to Continue Reading →

This is What Happens through DIEP flap Connections

This is What Happens through DIEP flap Connections Education about breast reconstruction options after breast cancer and mastectomy: This is what happens through DIEP flap connections. Two women living in two different parts of the country, one surgeon, a plastic surgery team, and a desire by all to educate and inform! I traveled to have my DIEP flap breast reconstruction in December of 2014 at PRMA in San Antonio, Texas. I was connected to another woman, Rhonda, now a “breast friend”, through PRMA when she became interested in DIEP flap. I was part of the Pink Ladies Support Group at PRMA.  This group speaks to other women about their own experience and traveling to have DIEP flap. Rhonda, like me, was interested in booking her surgery with Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo. I received the following email the morning of January 25, 2016. Hey gals!  Dr. C has an out of state Continue Reading →

Intimacy ~ Touching your breasts after DIEP flap surgery

Intimacy ~ Touching Your Breasts after DIEP flap Surgery This blog has been sitting in my archives for quite some time.  Intimacy and touching your breast after DIEP flap surgery seems like an unabashed topic to write about. The intimacy of the content and the shared photos delayed my writing. Respect for my fellow DIEP flap sisters and touching your breasts after this surgery is not something every woman wants to do. I know this to be true because I talk to women who feel this way. I fully respect all the complexities that surround the new sensation of your DIEP flap breasts.  The purpose of my blog is to share my experience and in some way, empower breast reconstruction patients to embrace their new breasts after they have healed from surgery and to feel comfortable touching their newly reconstructed breasts. If my suggestions and story work for you, I Continue Reading →

Honoring my Father During my DIEPflap Surgery

Honoring my Father During my DIEPflap Surgery This is a perfect weekend to write a tribute honoring my Father and his support during my DIEPflap surgery.  My father is in his late 80’s now so watching me go through DIEPflap breast reconstruction two and half years ago was not an easy process for him.  He knew nothing about this type of surgery.  My Dad’s generation and friends who had radical mastectomies and survived breast cancer never knew of the options to rebuild one’s breasts after they had to be removed after a breast cancer diagnosis.  It was just assumed that the loss was part of the plan and how you would continue to live your life. I gently guided Dad and Mom through the process and why I chose to have DIEPflap breast reconstruction after my second breast cancer diagnosis.  I will admit, it was tough.  His main concern for Continue Reading →

My Double Mastectomy: Three Years Later

Double Mastectomy: Three Years Later May 15, 2014, I was sitting in a hospital room recovering from a double mastectomy.  Why am I smiling so much in the photo?  The answer: I just finished a phone conversation with my parents.  They live a little over one thousand miles from me.  I couldn’t believe how little pain I was in and how good I felt.  It was important to me that they hear my voice. Both my Mother and Father were in disbelief that I was calling them. Just 24 hours before, they were on alert at their home waiting for the phone call to let them know I was out of surgery and doing well.  When I mentioned to them I was heading home in a couple of hours after the call, they were even more surprised.  I could hear the sense of relief in their voices over the phone. Continue Reading →

Finding a Breast Reconstruction Plastic Surgeon

Finding a Breast Reconstruction Plastic Surgeon How did you find your plastic surgeon?  This poll question was posted recently on the closed, private Facebook page supporting breast reconstruction patients.  These were the three response questions to choose from. Recommendation from another physician, if so, which one in comments please. Oncologist, breast surgeon, primary care or other? 64 respondents Online research? 20 respondents Recommendation from a friend? 17 respondents Question 1: Recommendation from another physician. Of the 64 respondents, not all listed the type of physician they received their recommendation from in the comments. Here are the results of the respondents who did comment. Breast surgeon: 37 Oncologist: 4 Primary Care 2 Other listed referrals included the following: Mammography technician Receptionist at an oncology office Nurse practitioner Breast cancer patient navigator Genetic oncologist It is interesting to note that most women got recommendations from their breast surgeons.  I was fortunate to Continue Reading →

#NationalDoctorsDay 2017

#NationalDoctorsDay 2017 Social media celebrates all number of fun holidays and today we celebrate #NationalDoctorsDay 2017.  The red carnation has become the symbol of this day to honor doctors. The challenges facing physicians today are worthy of setting aside one day a year to honor their dedication.  I have watched family members go through medical school.  The hours of training are long and arduous.  The personal sacrifice to self and family is admirable. Sub-specialties, like plastic surgery and particularly microsurgery, take even more training, more dedication, and immense skill.  The education is life-long and takes many more hours of study and exams to maintain board certification and learn the latest techniques in their chosen field.  There are long hours spent at hospitals, calls taken late into the evening, and likely some restless hours spent wondering how to solve tomorrow’s challenging medical issue with patients. We trust a physician to heal Continue Reading →

Possible Risks and Complications of Breast Reconstruction

Possible Risks and Complications of Breast Reconstruction I recently had the privilege of discussing some of the of possible risks and complications of breast reconstruction with Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo from PRMA plastic surgery.  The interview was done for #AllThingsCancer a program put out by the Anti-Cancer Club.  The two basic choices for breast reconstruction after mastectomy are implant based and autologous breast reconstruction (“flaps”).  There are pros and cons to each option.  What is important to emphasize is that for most patients, each option usually includes a staged approach involving more than one procedure for the best results. Implant breast reconstruction involves replacing the tissue removed by the mastectomy with a saline or silicone filled implant.  In most cases, a temporary implant known as a tissue expander is placed first to help shape the new breast.  The tissue expander is then replaced by a permanent implant at a second surgery. Autologous “flap” techniques Continue Reading →