Editor: It may be shocking to hear that Stephanie’s original surgeon admitted to her face, after the surgery, that he had purposefully left “a little extra” in case she “changed her mind.” But she isn’t the only victim who has described this scenario. And right now, the surgeons who behave in this manner know that they will not be held to account. Let’s be clear: disregarding the patient’s clear directive is malpractice. As Stephanie rightly says:
“We must put a stop to this cruel, abusive practice.” – Stephanie, Survivor
You can read Stephanie’s original full story here.
After being told by a plastic surgeon that her result was not fixable, Stephanie found a team of general surgeons specializing in breast surgery who were willing and able to help her. She recently underwent the corrective “revision” surgery to repair her chest and create a truly flat contour.
Now she shares with us a story of hope and perseverance.
Once diagnosed with cancer and deciding to have a double mastectomy, I explained to my surgeon, a general surgeon (big mistake), that I did not want implants. He disregarded my opinion and instead left me with a sagging, twisted, lumpy, painful chest [pictured above left]. When I asked why, he replied, “Women, women change their mind.” He also got a little defensive and when I reminded him I wanted to be smooth and flat. He almost chortled and said, “Women can’t be smooth and flat.” That’s when I realized I was going to have to search for another surgeon.
“Women, women change their mind… [w]omen can’t be smooth and flat.” – Stephanie’s original surgeon, after denying her a flat result
I traveled to Emory in Atlanta and met with a plastic surgeon who specialized in breast surgery and body contouring. Sounded good to me. But when he saw my chest, he just looked puzzled and somewhat repulsed. He said fixing mastectomy scars was not what he did. He said the pain I was feeling was possibly not from the painful lumps, but from nerve damage. He also said he did not think I was going to be able to be flat. He said women have all sorts of different lumps and bumps under their skin and he did not think it was possible to get the results I was looking for.
Luckily for me, he DID say that he could refer me to a surgeon. “She’s not a plastic surgeon. She’s a breast surgeon.” (As though that was somehow a step down.) He said they sometimes shared patients and that he had heard her say, “I’ll make you as flat as possible.”
Enter Dr. Rogsbert Phillips. She and Dr. Yara Robertson head Metro Surgical Associates in Atlanta and Lithonia. Yes, they are “general” surgeons, but they specialize in breast surgery. When she saw how the first doctor had left me, she was appalled.
She asked, “He left you like this? Was he mad at you?” She immediately comforted me and assured me, “We can help you.”
“He left you like this? Was he mad at you?”
Well, help me they did. Turns out, when they do a double, one surgeon takes one side of you and the other does the other side of you. So, I was blessed to have two wonderful surgeons BOTH working on me at the same time so that I would be under anesthesia for the shortest time possible.
They left me beautifully smooth. And guess what? The pain from the previous surgery WAS coming from those painful lumps. I now can move, lay on my side, keep my arms down (which I could not do with the painful lumps left previously), and just generally get back to my life.
She also informed me that the big boob-like lump left behind that the first surgeon kept insisting was a hematoma, turned out to be redundant fatty tissue he should have removed the first time.
I am so happy with how they left me. I feel confident and strong. I can’t recommend Metro Surgical Associates strongly enough. They were kind, skilled, and professional. I am very happy to share this story with you.
Editor: We are SO HAPPY for Stephanie. This is the outcome we hope for all those who have been denied their choice to go flat after mastectomy – a single revision surgery leaving a smooth, comfortable flat contour, and to be treated with kindness and compassion.
… and how much better would it be, to put an end to flat denial altogether and ensure that patients who want to go flat receive acceptable surgical results the first time?