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  • Is there a Bright Side to Cancer?

    A note from Dr. Whiteman:
    This blog entry is the start of a series of blog entries from the interns that have been working with me at Southern Plastic Surgery and Gwinnett Hospital. I think it is important to get always take a look at a fresh perspective, and look forward to hearing about the insights and experiences of the interns over the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy them as well!

    Is there a Bright Side to Cancer?

    Is there a Bright Side to Cancer? According to many of Dr. Whiteman’s patients, visits to his office are just that – a ray of hope. As a third year medical student who just spent four weeks learning from him, his staff, and his patients, I agree wholeheartedly. Surgical removal of cancer leaves a permanent reminder and can oftentimes disrupt quality of life. Luckily, the breast cancer journey doesn’t have to end there for these patients.

    Breast cancer is a particularly special field because it is not only anatomy, but a source of femininity and life. Recent data trends demonstrate that the incidence of breast cancer has increased. Investigators suggest that this increase may be due to older age at initial pregnancy, increased use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, and changes in average ages of menarche (first menstrual period) and menopause.

    Because of his expertise and reputation, Dr. Whiteman is referred many breast cancer patients at all stages of their journey, but especially for breast reconstruction. “I always enjoyed coming to see Dr. Whiteman because it marked the positive part of this road,” stated a breast cancer patient of his.

    Through his office’s breast cancer support system, many have found lifelong friendships and support from other survivors. This “buddy system” has allowed patients talk to other women not only about the disease but about their reconstructive surgery and what to expect. These women share a unique bond; because no one can completely understand how difficult this is unless they have gone through it.

    Just as not all breast cancers are the same, not all of the reconstructive surgeries for these women are alike. There are different procedures according to the needs of the patient. Treatment of cancer can consist of a lumpectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, partial, or radical mastectomy. All of these change the breast in different ways. The important factors in determining the type of reconstruction that is best include the type of treatment received, the patient’s body type, and the patient’s preference.

    There are many procedure types and they can range from creating new breasts from the patient’s own tissue to using an implant. Reconstruction can take two or more surgeries in which recreation of the nipple and tattooing of the areolar area is the final touch. The entire process can last months to over a year depending on the patient.

    One of the patients that I spoke in detail with decided on the TRAM (Transverse Rectus Abdominus Myocutaneous) Flap operation. In this procedure a tissue flap including skin, fat, and muscle taken from the abdomen is used to make a new breast mound. This surgery may require hospitalization for 3-4 days. Recovery will take 3-6 weeks. Another option is to place tissue expanders in the chest area where the breasts were. These expanders are slowly filled with saline to create room for an implant at a later date. This procedure is better for some who may want only one surgical area or who do not have ideal tissue to create a new breast. This surgery is often done as an outpatient procedure and recovery will take a couple of weeks.

    It is also important in some cases to reconstruct the opposite breast to match. As one patient put it, “I had a breast that looked like it was 20 years old and one that looked 50!” Many women opt to have the opposite breast lifted in these situations. After going through the disease many women make the best of the reconstruction and decide on the size and shape they had always wanted. There are several options and continuous advances made for women with breast cancer at any stage. Whether women begin reconstruction in the operating room immediately after their mastectomy or wait until months after chemotherapy or radiation; the reconstruction is vital in their recovery. Dr. Whiteman is known for working hand in hand with the oncologists and other surgeons to determine what is best for his patients. After what these survivors have gone through, the reconstruction is a positive step forward.

    My previous rotation was working with an oncologist, therefore, my exposure to breast cancer has come full circle. What a wonderful experience to see these women at this part of their journey with a new lease on life. They are some of the most open and touching patients I have come in contact with. After speaking with many of these ladies, it is easy to understand that they chose Dr. Whiteman to be a part of their journey because of how “comfortable” they felt with him and his office staff. As one woman declared, “It was hard to realize how much of me would be lost, I will never be the same…but Dr. Whiteman made me whole again.”

    -Beverly Davis, Student Medical Intern

    Evolence – FDA approval on longest lasting facial filler yet!

    Ortho Dermatologics recently announced FDA approval of the new labeling for EVOLENCE® – the very first facial filler who can rightfully claim results lasting through a year. While EVOLENCE® has been in the United States since 2008, the previous label was only approved to say “results lasting up to 6 months.” Further testing however, has lead the FDA to approve the new label; thus recognizing the validity of the claim that it can correct moderate to deep lines and wrinkles through 12 months.

    Wrinkles and folds are caused by the gradual depletion of collagen in the face, a process that is sped up by things like smoking, too much sun, or even unlucky genes. Like its facial filler competitors, EVOLENCE® works by replacing this lost volume and “filling” in those lines and folds that make your face look old, tired, and weathered. EVOLENCE® uses an all-natural filler made of collagen that closely mimics the collagen found in your skin – giving you a smoother, more natural look when injected into the problem areas of the face. It is important to remember, however that you can achieve the safest and best results when you get injections by a board certified plastic surgeon.

    EVOLENCE® is actually relatively new to the US market compared to other parts of the world – Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Israel, South Korea, and Russia have all been using this filler since 2004/2005. But with results lasting longer than any other product of its kind on the market, EVOLENCE® can be expected to gain quick popularity for those looking for a longer lasting wrinkle fix.

    Contact Dr. David Whiteman at the office of Southern Plastic Surgery to find out more about EVOLENCE® and to see if it’s the right product for you.

    Traveling for Cosmetic Surgery?

    You may recall awhile back the story about the wife of music celebrity Usher Raymond who traveled out of the country for ‘privacy reasons’. While her true reasons are unknown, the facts are she very recently gave birth and attempted to get liposuction while in Brazil.

    Most board certified plastic surgeons in the US would have warned her out of undergoing the procedure so early after childbirth and send her away for the time being, but those out of the US, away from bothersome things like “credentials” and “board certifications” have no qualms with taking the money from someone famous. The result of her voyage? Falling into cardiac arrest prior to the procedure due to irresponsible anesthesia administering.

    This information became, as you can see, anything but ‘private’, thereby making the reason for her leaving the US absolutely meaningless. The practice of leaving the US to get plastic surgery, whether for privacy concerns or to save some money is sometimes called ‘Medical Tourism’ and it clearly comes with its own risks.

    According to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report, 28 countries on four different continents are part of the medical tourism business. Each year 2 million patients get procedures done in other countries besides their own; and these countries offer everything from dental care to plastic and cosmetic surgery. Even Americans, more than 180,000 in 2008, are going abroad to visit hospitals and clinics in other countries besides the United States.

    The reasons for “outsourcing” often come down to the money you
    will save. Other reasons include trying to keep your operation under the radar so no one at home will know that you have gotten work done. But there is nothing to be ashamed of when considering plastic surgery. If you want to get rid of that post-pregnancy weight (similar to motives of Usher’s wife), people will understand. You just need to work with your surgeons, because many will ask you to wait for a few to several months after birth so your body can normalize and recover.

    While the choice of where you get your medical procedures done is up to you, keep in mind the risk you will be taking if your physician is not a board certified or have excellent credentials and past experience. If you travel out of the US to find a US-trained and board certified plastic surgeon; but keep in mind there may be a reason why they have left the US. Your best bet is to stay local and stick with the names you trust. All of my patients have and I hope their results speak for themselves.

    [Original news source courtesy of the Huffington Post and U.S. News & World Report]