Dr. Whiteman Cautions Patients to be Wary of Doctors Offering ‘Awake’ Breast Augmentation Surgery

A recent article in the NY Times discussed a group of doctors who are boasting the ability to perform breast augmentation surgery while patients are awake. This breast implant procedure is performed in the physician’s office and only requires local anesthesia – boasting lower costs and the ability to interact with patients during the actual surgery.

Traditionally though, and at the practice of Southern Plastic Surgery, breast augmentation surgery is performed in a hospital while the patient is under general anesthesia to ensure patient safety. While the “awake” breast augmentation surgery sounds like a good idea in theory, the safety and legitimacy of it has been called into serious question. Here are just a couple of reasons why I caution against opting for this kind of procedure:

• Performing operations while a patient is awake, under local anesthesia takes an amount of control away from the surgeon and is not conducive to the best possible results.

• Surgeries performed in a physician’s office instead of a hospital are not subject to proper accreditation or safety standards.

• If something goes wrong in surgery or if the patient becomes uneasy by the graphic nature of the surgery there will not be an anesthesiologist or hospital staff on hand to assist.

• Local anesthesia still makes a patient “out of it” – so they may request something like a size change during surgery that they would not otherwise ask for with a sound mind.

• Many people performing these procedures are not board certified or even trained in plastic surgery! (The article notes a non board certified doctor that teaches this procedure to other non-plastic surgery doctors with a two day course!)

• Just as many complications can arise from local anesthesia as from general anesthesia, but with local anesthesia you do not have the support of a hospital or specialist if such a complication should arise.

While some procedures are perfectly safe performed under local anesthesia, a procedure as invasive as breast augmentation is not (at least not yet anyways). You don’t want anyone performing a surgery as serious as a breast augmentation who has not gone to school to study plastic surgery; or who is not board certified by an accredited, third party medical board such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Whiteman is double board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada and specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures of the face, breasts, and body. If you are interested in learning more about breast augmentation surgery, or any other cosmetic procedure, contact the office of Southern Plastic Surgery today.

‘Informed’ Breast Cancer Patients More Likely to Undergo Reconstruction

Breast Cancer surgery can be one of the most devastating experiences in a woman’s life. Not only are patients exhausted from their battle with cancer and worried about their future, but a mastectomy (the surgical removal of one or both breasts) can leave a woman feeling less like her old self than ever before. That is why a new statistic by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons came as such a shock: nearly 70 percent of women eligible for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy are not informed of the surgical options available to them.

The difference in those seeking reconstruction and those who did not was most apparent when comparing different racial and ethnic groups. In another study by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Latina who spoke limited English were less likely to undergo reconstruction than white women, black women, and English speaking Latina women. While 41 percent of white women and English speaking Latina women underwent reconstruction, only 14 percent of less acculturated Latinas did. Because of the language barrier that exists between patient and doctor, patients who spoke limited English were less informed of their options.

In fact, a related study showed that women who were simply referred to a reconstruction doctor during their breast cancer surgery were much more likely to undergo the procedure. In the ACS Clinical Congress study, 92 percent of patients who were referred underwent reconstruction and none of the non-referred patients underwent the surgery!

The statistics above show how much a little information can do to help a patient realize their recovery options. That is why new technology is emerging to help patients become more aware of their options. For instance, there is a computer based decision making aid on the market right now that teaches patients their various reconstruction options. According to a study conducted at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, women who used the CD learning module were more involved in choosing reconstruction than those who did not, and they believed they were offered a greater number of surgical options for breast reconstruction – once again highlighting how empowering information can be.

The bottom line is that all women should be informed of all of their options from the onset of their breast cancer diagnosis. Whether or not a woman chooses to undergo breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is a personal decision – yet every woman deserves the right to make that decision.

It is important to present plastic surgery as an option from the onset of treatment; that way, doctors can work together every step of the way to give a patient the best possible treatment. In fact, many patients choose to have their breasts reconstructed during the same time as their mastectomy to reduce the number of surgeries needed.

Education is only one of the ways to make the battle against breast cancer more bearable; that is why Dr. Whiteman developed a “buddy system” in the offices of Southern Plastic Surgery. His support program gives breast cancer patients the option to speak with other survivors to gain a better understanding of what to expect from their surgery.

Source: MedNews