Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today I Met the Man I'm Going to Have Reconstruct My Boobs

Actually, I met Dr. F on Saturday (and I would have blogged about it then, but my home interwebbing is down, hopefully to be fixed today, as G is standing by for the cable guy, having taken a day off from work to attend to such things, as well as our car, which has become stubborn about braking and accelerating -- bonus househubby action: when we spoke a few moments ago, G said he was waiting for the kitchen floor to dry. Because he had mopped it. Le swoon). More correctly, I met Dr. F two weeks ago in Florida at the FORCE conference. But I officially consulted with him Saturday, and I'm this/close to signing up his services.

The process of selecting surgeons to scoop out my ladyfats and reconfigure them has been arduous. The surgery I'm considering -- prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, for those who have been dozing -- is performed by a dynamic duo of doctors: a breast surgeon (expert at the scoopage) and a plastic surgeon (expert at the perky boobage). That means I have consulted now with five different surgeons (my sixth and final appointment, with the surgeon who works most closely with Dr. F -- who is a plastic surgeon -- is scheduled for next week). The choice hasn't been easy: I've left each of my appointments imagining that I could see myself going with that doctor. (And having so many choices, so many options, so much freedom and leeway and latitude, can be as much a curse as it is a blessing.) But ultimately, Dr. F (and for those who are interested in hearing more about him, including juicy details like his full last name, can email me; I don't want this blog entry to turn into an advertisement for his services) can do everything I want: he will put the incisions under my boobs, where I want them; he will preserve my nipple; and he specializes in one-step procedures.

(A brief explanation: traditionally, these operations have been completed in two steps. After the mastectomy, temporary "expanders" are placed under the chest muscle and gradually, over the course of many weeks, inflated until they reach the desired size. A second "exchange surgery" then takes place, wherein the expanders are swapped out for permanent implants. This process can take up to five months. Check out Lianne's photo journal of her expansion process here. The so-called one-step process is newer; instead of expanders, implants are immediately inserted post-mastectomy. Rebbecca runs an indispensable site dedicated to the one-step process.)

To settle on a surgeon, I've adopted and modified Goldilocks's system of trial and judgment. The first plastic surgeon was too stabby (he wanted to put the incision straight across my breast); the second plastic surgeon was too green (his specialty is microsurgery, not implants); but Dr. F was just right. In addition to being dedicated to the BRCA community--none of the other surgeons I consulted with bothered to come to the FORCE conference--Dr. F has performed more than 3500 breast reconstructions, 120 of which were PBMs for genetic mutation carriers like me. (When I think of this I have to laugh as I remember, just three months ago, how little I understood about the wild world of breast reconstruction and how afraid I was to be only the second person on the planet -- after my brave, pioneering cousin, who is recovering from her PBM as I type -- to have this kind of surgery. Oh, if I had only known.) But perhaps the most compelling reason to go with Dr. F comes not from his technique or his admirable devotion to BRCA babes like myself; it comes from his patients. I've seen (and touched) more of his "artistry" and "handiwork" than any other doctor's. His patients seem to revere him; they whip off their shirts to show off their results the moment you mention you're considering him. In fact, I met one last week and I was feeling her up within minutes. You can't buy advertising like that.

And so, pending the outcome of my meeting with his surgical partner next week, I'll be signed up soon for surgery. I'm planning to wait until December for the big day (so I can enjoy -- and begin to say goodbye to -- my natural breasts this summer). But just you wait. One day, sometime soon, I hope to be one of those crazy, happy ladies who doff their tops to show-off their Dr. F-reconstructed breasts. Lord knows, I've taken my shirt off for a lot less.


  1. I am soooo happy for you and totally jealous to boot, lol! I wish I could find that "just right" doc, but I'm still looking.

    Super glad to hear you are getting everything you want, that is JUST what SHOULD happen, especially for you BRCA gals. Tho I'm neg, I have felt a kinship and a huge respect. Perhaps it's partially because my mother has BC and I believe that there are more genes out there, they've just not been found yet. I imagine my 8yo DD in the future and hope that by then they will know even more and have even better options for all of us.

    Huge heartfelt congrats!!!

  2. Stephanie,

    If you don't mind my asking...
    What made you choose One Step with Nipple Sparing, versus, Skin Sparing and removal of the nipple?

    - Brandi