Monday, October 5, 2009

Plastics consult

The plastics office was in a nice neighborhood - but a shabby old medical building.  There was a homeless guy sitting on the steps out front.   Not what I expect when I go to a plastic surgeon's office.

Where's the tasteful and elegant mahogony furniture?  Where's the cucumber water?  Where are the beautiful girls with perfect teeth and breasts? 

Inside, I filled out the usual paperwork and stared at a People magazine with Patrick Swayze on the cover.

Nice choice.

The receptionist (who I also suspect might be the surgeon's wife) turned on some music.


Remember how I complained about having TV on in medical buildings?  I take it all back.  A TV blaring Dr. Phil is ten times better than listening to Andrea Bocelli.

Look him up if you don't believe me.  (Yes, despite the name it's a he. Yanni is a he too. If you like Mr. Bocelli, you can't be my friend.)

So, I pulled out the iPhone, fired up IHeartRadio and tuned to Michael Medved to drown out the cheesy tenor, and I waited.

The doctor called me back and he was very solicitous.  He said he knows my case, asked me about my tests, when I found the lump, etc.  He said (as I knew) that I'm not a candidate for any of the flap reconstructions as I'm too thin.  He proceeded to pull out photos of implant reconstructions to show me what to expect.

Now, I think he was pulling out photos of his best work.  He seemed proud.  I'm not sure it helped that he kept saying they were ones he'd done in 1988.....and, they were all completely unacceptable in my estimation.

I've looked at lots of after-mastectomy reconstruction pictures online - and I do realize that these are probably the most successful and brightest of surgeons, showing off their best work and not ones of lesser quality.

But, these pictures did not resemble those at all.

Every reconstructed breast was uneven, lumpy, had strange folds of skin hanging down.  When I'd point it out and ask "Why is it like that?" he looked puzzled, like it looked fine to him.  "Oh, that is from where the skin pulled back over some scarring"

Hello!  And you didn't fix it?  Or even notice it?

Even when there were double mastectomies, they were not symmetrical, and he said he was impossible to get them that way and that the women were happy like that.  I'm talking a watermelon and peach here too, not cherry and strawberry.

Then he showed me his reconstructed nipples and tattooed areolas.  (A word that, by the way, he didn't know how to pronounce.)  They were shaped like Texas, and California, and bears and dogs - but not areolas.  He said it was difficult to get them perfectly round.

I sat there staring at the photos in shock.  Honestly, I thought I was going to cry.  Has the internet been lying to me, and this is what I have to look forward to? Dog ear folds on the sides of reconstructed breasts?  Oddly shaped placement?

He saw my shock and was very understanding.  He said that if I wanted a second opinion he would be fine with that, he wanted his patients to be comfortable.  I told him that I hadn't expected what I was seeing, that I had no experience with this, and maybe I should look at more pictures from others to be sure.

I'd been told there was only one plastic surgeon in my medical group, but I just looked it up and there are four total in my metropolitan area.  So, I can at least see one more.   I called my surgeon to make the request.

They already had me scheduled for surgery on the 19th.   I hope I still make it,  but not if my boob is going to come out looking like a puckered, deflated balloon - AFTER reconstruction.

I'm seriously disappointed and slightly sickened.  I'm quite ready for this to be started and scheduled.


  1. Oh NO! Definitely see another surgeon! Go for the cucumber water!

    I think you should write a movie or a sitcom. I mean, that's some prime material right there.

    Hang in there.

  2. Hi Ann - what I am finding really interesting about your blog is the difference in your healthcare system and ours. Not saying it is better or worse - cos as you have pointed out today you get top-notch medical professionals and ... well ... others that are not going to give you a "second base" to be proud of ... wherever you are.

    Just hang on in there until you a plastic surgeon who doesn't like Andrea (yuk)!


  3. Ann, I have had several girlfriends who underwent reconstruction after mastectomy. There are success stories out there of women who have beautiful breasts afterwards. Good luck on the second opinion, and I wish you the best of luck finding that surgeon who can reconstruct beautifully so that you will be happy with the end result.

  4. Nice post - breast reconstruction pictures ..Keep Posting

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  5. Nice post - breast reconstruction photos ..Keep Posting

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