January Spotlight Patient: Meet Denise

There are several things that really seem to validate the rewards of being a plastic surgeon: I get to work with a diverse group of patients on a daily basis, help patients improve their self-image by achieving their personal cosmetic surgery goals, and have the opportunity to build lasting relationships – just to name a few. Through the recommendation of her surgeon and thorough research of my reputation, when Denise first came to Southern Plastic Surgery (SPS), she had successfully battled breast cancer, undergone a double mastectomy in 2012, and was ready to take on breast reconstruction to restore her breasts.

My JOYAs a mother of three adult children with a passion for life, Denise knew that although she had to endure a journey that she did not choose, there was much to be thankful for. We have had the pleasure of working with Denise over the past 2 ½ years and recently caught up with her to welcome her as our January spotlight patient so she could share a bit about her breast reconstruction experience:

“My memories with Dr. Whiteman and his wonderful staff will always be with me. At the first consult, Dr. Whiteman asked me what I wanted – to which I shared what I thought I needed. He was willing to do what I wanted but he wanted the BEST for me. After a very detailed discussion on what my daily life and activities were, we settled on using tissue expanders and implants to complete my breast reconstruction (which today was the BEST choice for me and my active lifestyle).

Dr. Whiteman is very easy to talk to; he listens to everything you say and surprisingly he remembers the office discussions on the day of surgery. Today, I am EXTREMELY THRILLED WITH MY RESULTS! It has enabled me to meet so many people and to help others that have had to deal with breast cancer themselves. During my experience with the Southern Plastic Surgery team, I became a part of their family. They knew about my family just as much as I knew about their families. Even when I had to have a complete hysterectomy and was fearful that the cancer had spread from previous tests in mid-2014, Dr. Whiteman and his staff visited me. The laughter, hugs, and even tears that they shared with me during my journey are something I’ll never forget.

I learned so much from the SPS team and totally enjoyed getting to know the different variety of plastic surgery interns that Dr. Whiteman had in his office during their rotations! I would most definitely consider another plastic surgery procedure but for right now, I am enjoying taking the time to let my body heal from all the previous surgeries – but the newest Laser Lights Laser Center treatments are definitely on my bucket list. I’m enjoying life and still learning something new every day! I try to not take life for granted and pay more attention to even the small things in life.”

Denise’s SPS experience didn’t end after her breast reconstruction but continued as she chose to refine her thighs with liposuction, rejuvenate her face with laser treatments and facials, and even partnered with our in-house NESTA Weight Management Specialist, Jackie Madison and Daryl Madison, experienced ACE certified personal trainer during her recovery through their Lifestyle & Weight Management programs. It’s our philosophy to treat each of our patients as if they were our own family and enjoy getting to know them as they each go through their unique plastic surgery experiences. We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from Denise and encourage you to check back in the coming weeks when we will be sharing more patient testimonial stories in the future.

Increasing Knowledge during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Many of us recognize the month of October as the first full month of fall, one that lets us wear costumes or perhaps simply the precursor to Thanksgiving.  For me and many others though, October is the month of pink ribbons and raising awareness for something that affects millions of lives directly and indirectly – breast cancer.  Just the name alone carries such magnitude in meaning and the effects breast cancer has on our loved ones are something I have witnessed firsthand.  As a double board certified plastic surgeon, I have grown extremely passionate about breast reconstruction and educating patients on their options because many women simply aren’t aware of all of the potentially life changing opportunities that exist.

Think about these survey results conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons for a second:

  • Less than 23% of women know the wide range of breast reconstruction options available.
  • Only 22% of women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected.
  • Only 19% of women understand that the timing of their treatment for breast cancer and the timing of their decision to undergo reconstruction greatly impacts their options and results.
  • 89% of women want to see breast reconstruction results before undergoing cancer treatment.

For some of my breast reconstruction patients, wanting to restore their breasts is something they choose to regain self-confidence or reduce the physical reminders of undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy following a diagnosis.  In the end however, breast reconstruction is a choice and a very personal choice at that.  To reduce the staggering percentage of women who are unfamiliar with post-cancer treatment options, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day (also known as BRA Day) was started as an initiative to promote education, awareness and access for women who may be considering breast reconstruction.  BRA Day has always promoted a team approach to breast cancer because it’s important to have every vital component of a patient’s breast cancer treatment working together to improve a patient’s outcome and quality of life.

This year, BRA Day will be celebrated on October 21 and will be a day devoted to sharing, learning and helping.  Nationwide events will give women a chance to hear from local plastic surgeons about breast reconstruction options, meet with specialists and other cancer survivors, plus a “Show & Tell” initiative where women can actually see what breast reconstruction results helped other former breast cancer patients achieve.  It’s great to see cities across the United States embracing BRA Day and sending a  powerful message to women to not only be proactive in educating themselves on their options but to be open and encouraging of other women who are facing a breast cancer journey of their own.

My passion for breast cancer fuels my deep connection with performing breast reconstruction because survivors have gone through an experience that is unlike anything many of us will ever experience.  The outlook on life that many of my patients exhibit is encouraging beyond words as many them exhibit strength in the face of adversity  but come out stronger and genuinely wanting to live life to its fullest.  Each of these women and men I have met truly inspired me to create Life After the Fight, an interactive business directory for breast cancer survivors who started their own businesses after their breast cancer journey.  Life After the Fight connects breast cancer survivors and their businesses with other professionals to promote their entrepreneurial endeavors to local patrons.  Not only can we support local businesses, but we can support the survivors that have carried on after their fight.

When a patient chooses me to be a part of their breast cancer journey, it is truly humbling and always an honor for me.  All it takes is a conversation to start learning more about breast reconstruction options and how it can improve a patient’s life.  Our door is always open and we would love to help you get started on your breast reconstruction journey when you feel the time is right.  Don’t hesitate to contact Southern Plastic Surgery with any questions you may have and remember – don’t give up the fight, you can do it!

Raquel’s Story: Don’t Always Believe the Hype

I get to work with a lot of great patients – for some, on more than one occasion.  Being able to hear how a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure has positively impacted their lives later in life is part of the drive that keeps me motivated to help patients achieve their goals!  Today, I’d like to share with you Raquel’s story.  When Raquel first came to me nine years ago, she was interested in pursuing her first breast enhancement procedure.  “A friend of mine was also consulting for breast implants around the same time and had recommended Dr. Whiteman.  She had explained how comfortable she felt with him versus other doctors she had met with,” Raquel recently shared, “but what sold me was that Dr. Whiteman also worked with breast cancer survivors for breast reconstruction surgery.”

breast implant surgery in atlanta georgia dr david whitemanDuring Raquel’s consultation we discussed her goals and explored several different breast implant sizes and types to find the fit that worked best for her.  “I had always been flat chested, smaller than an A cup, so I had always wanted breast implants to balance me out.  Fitting into bathing suits or tops and dresses was always a problem; I never wanted anything too big, just natural,” Raquel recalled.  “Once in my 20s, I was mentally ready and went for it.”  A few years after her procedure, Raquel gave birth to her first child and experienced capsular contracture, a condition associated with breast augmentation where scar tissue forms around a breast implant causing the breasts to harden.  “I had the misfortune of having one of my breasts capsulate after my first pregnancy, which is something random that could happen for no rhyme or reason, and replacing them was the only solution.  I chose to have them replaced and both experiences with Dr. Whiteman and the hospital staff were the best.”  When we have a patient come to us with something like capsular contracture, breast revision is the procedure of choice to eliminate the scar tissue and exchange the affected breast implant.

Since her breast revision four years ago, Raquel has welcomed her second child into the family (her kids are currently 5 years old and 5 months old) and keeps busy as an active mom and wife, fitting in home projects and decorating in her spare time.  “Life after my surgery is great; my husband has no complaints!  I have been extremely happy with my breast augmentation results; they are the perfect size for my tomboyish body and it has given me a confidence boost.  I enjoy not having to worry about clothes fitting me!”

For breast augmentation patients, breastfeeding with implants is a common concern.  While it’s true that some patients may have difficulty, don’t believe the hype for discouraging breast augmentation and breastfeeding because each person is different.  When we asked Raquel how it was for her choosing breast augmentation prior to having kids and breastfeeding, she would tell you what she told us, “I had no problem breastfeeding both of my kids.  It’s been nine years since my first breast surgery and four years since replacing them and they still look as good as when I had my first surgery.”  As a double board certified plastic surgeon, it’s my job to educate my patients on maintaining their results to the best of their ability. This could mean incorporating a healthier diet and exercise plan, finding the time to have a procedure that fits into your lifestyle and discussing what’s best for you and your body long-term.  With open communication between you and your surgeon, hopefully your experience will be just as rewarding as it has been for Raquel.

I’ll be sharing more patient testimonial stories with you in the upcoming months and invite you to reach out to my office if you have any questions regarding a procedure that we perform at Southern Plastic Surgery.  Be sure to also connect with me, Dr. David Whiteman, on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for the latest plastic surgery trends, patient features, news and information.