Switching Plastic Surgeons

I have listened and responded to my gut instincts, setting in motion actions to acquire my first-choice plastic surgeon, Dr. S. after traversing this breast-cancer-reconstruction-passage with a plastic surgeon who was picked for me due to her availability and Dr. S.’s unavailability.

I first learned of Dr. S. in speaking with another local breast cancer “sister”. I asked for the names of her team of doctors since she raved about them. Having the names in hand, I diligently researched each of these specialists online, coming away feeling impressed and that I would be in good hands.

Having never experienced medical drama of this magnitude, I was not certain where to begin but chose to make an appointment with the breast surgeon as my first step. My life would be in her hands before anyone else’s, as she would dig out all of the cancer and interpret the sentinel node biopsies. It was during my visit with her, she informed me that Dr. S. was no longer affiliated with the hospital, therefore would not be able to perform my immediate reconstruction surgery; he moved on to focus his roles at the University where he serves as Chief of Plastic Surgery & Program Director, Surgical Director of Plastic Surgery and Department of Surgery. My breast surgeon left the room, made a quick call to a different plastic surgeon and upon her return, the surgery date was set. Insofar as arranging the surgery, all I needed to do was meet with the plastic surgeon.

As I recall, I liked the plastic surgeon. Of course, I would rather have preferred Dr. S., but I was in a hurry to get the cancer out of my body so I convinced myself that I would be in good hands with this substitute.

Since that first meeting with her, she has placed the tissue expanders, filled them, replaced one of them as it was defective and leaked and finally, we set our date for the exchange surgery and suddenly, I stepped on the brakes.

Post-bilateral Mastectomy Expanders

EXAMPLE OF: Lumpy, Uneven
Placed Too High
Breast Expanders

During my last office visit with her, which was the pre-op visit prior to the exchange surgery, numerous pieces of incorrect information were passed on to me. It began with the reference booklet I was to take home. Informational sheets explaining pre-op and post-op care, medications and emergency situations were printed for me to read and initial as having read and understood the contents. The pages were then photocopied and the photocopies were placed into a binder; the nurse reviewed each page with me before giving the binder to me for home reference then left the room.

When the doctor came into the room, she looked at my chest and began explaining her plan of action for the exchange surgery. This ‘plan of action’ was nothing like her initial plan of action which had included cutting out the existing, jagged scars with clean, straight incisions, leaving a hairline scar. She had also spoken about using silicone strips to aid in healing. Her new plan of action, revealed a week and a half before surgery, was in direct opposition to what had originally been explained to me.

When I asked about the new incisions for the scars, she brushed it off, “…your scars will heal in time…”

I did not feel confident in that blasé answer.

My discontent did not stop with the new plan of action. As the doctor explained that I would be going home with JP Drains, a pain pump and steri strips, I wondered if I had blacked out or something. Only moments before, her nurse reviewed the booklet with me that explicitly stated (and in print) that I would NOT be going home with drains but some new disc-type contraption, steri-strips would be replaced with some new glue, and the pain pump would be replaced with a new one-pill drug. I felt that I needed to change something too, change doctors!

I was not certain where to start nor how to do this. I did not want to cancel this surgery until I knew that I could see Dr. S. I sent him an email at 7:30 a.m., explaining that he had been my first choice for this surgery but Dr. T. had to pick someone else since he was no longer affiliated at the hospital. He personally responded to me within half an hour, copying his staff with his response as he told me that he would gladly see me.

While I waited to hear from Dr. S’s staff, I phoned Dr. T. ’s office to ask if she would share my surgical records with him and officially send a referral to him. Things moved swiftly and within a few hours, I had an appointment set up with Dr. S., had filled out the required paperwork and faxed it all back to his office. He was correct, he does have a wonderful staff!

Not wanting to burn my bridges, I still needed to deal with my current plastic surgeon. I phoned her office and explained that I would not be healed from my sinus infection for next week’s surgery and needed to postpone it. The girl on the phone explained to me that she would just cancel the surgery and I could phone her back when I was feeling better. What? How easy could that be?

Now that I will be in super-doctor hands, I am anxious to see if he can make my existing chest, with lousy-looking expanders, actually resemble something that looks like breasts. I have been googling post-mastectomy reconstruction photos, copied them to a Word document and will print the pictures out as I ask him if there is any possibility that my chest might resemble any of these photos. I want honesty. I don’t want smoke blown up my as*.

I need to know the truth. I need to know if beginning with Photo #1, exchange surgery can ever come close to resembling Photo #2. I am not talking about size, I am referring to symmetry and placement upon the chest wall. I just want the truth.

Expanders

Photo #1

TissueExpndrs1

Photo #2
© Concannon Plastic Surgery

BAR_LINE2

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9 responses to “Switching Plastic Surgeons

  1. The first plastic surgeon I saw assured me I could not have reconstruction at all because there was no skin to work with (too many previous surgeries). The one I ultimately worked with said “Okay, here’s how we are going to do it,” and she did it.

    I am told they are pretty nice. I’m just prejudiced because I don’t like my body these days. She thought they should be bigger, but after a lifetime of large breasts, I wanted small ones. We compromised with a “C- cup” … I was leaning toward B- and she towards D-. It had to do with the balance between shoulder width, size of rib cage and breast size. I have (for a short person) broad shoulders and a 38″ rib cage even when I have no fat on me at all.

    Size and shape-wise, it has worked out well. They are big enough, but not heavy and clothing fits well for the first time in my life. The woman (surgeon) is a GENIUS. A good plastic surgeon can really make miracles and change you life for the better.

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    • But, were your expanders as high and lumpy as photo #1 or did your expanders look more similar to the shape of breasts?

      I am just worried that these expanders make me look like a man’s chest, you know, a body-builder-type of man and that there will be nothing anyone can do to make my chest look female again.

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      • I loved the way my expanders looked. So firm and perfect. Perky 🙂 I asked her if I could keep the expanders. (No.) The implants have always looked a bit square to my eyes, probably much to me than anyone else. My husband likes them FINE. It turns out — men are not picky about breast shape.

        The shape of the expanders is not entirely a predictor of what the implants will look like. They stretch the skin to accommodate the implants, but they shouldn’t look weird. If you aren’t happy with your surgeon, change now, not later, while there’s still time to make a correction.

        Regardless, the final breast will look different. Exactly HOW different is hard to say.

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  2. Wow I am so sorry you have to deal with this. I am glad you went with your instinct and ran! If we are no our own advocate no one else will. It amazing how a dr can be so wrong about everything they tell you.

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  3. I am so glad you decided to make that call! I really hope that things turn out as you want them to. These days, with the technology available, there is no reason not to be satisfied with your result.

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  4. Trust is crucial. Your instincts are good. Best of luck with all this. Hang on in there.

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  5. My TE’s look very similar to yours. High up in my chest and they make me look very broad (that man shape). Your’s are actually more cemetrical than mine, one of mine appears higher than the other and with only 420cc in them at this time they look like they are moving under my armpits. I guess I just thought they were suppose to look that way…awful!!! Glad you are looking into it, like others and yourself have said, go with your gut. 🙂

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    • Mine too feel like they are moving to under my armpits. After looking at my cousin’s TE’s, I definitely felt that I need to see a different plastic surgeon, this is not right.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and especially for leaving a comment! 😀

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