Plastic surgery as a necessity

By on February 6, 2009

by Gwen Allen
At age 57 and with a size D cup, Nancy Jones was hardly what most would consider an ideal candidate for breast implants. But looking back on it, she said it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

It was three years ago that Jones became diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), a common type of non-invasive (meaning it does not penetrate the lymph nodes or the chest cavity) breast cancer that spreads through the breast “like a spider web” rather then forming a lump.

At the time of her diagnosis, she learned that the cancer encompassed one whole breast and that there was a good chance it would happen on the other side.

“I just decided to have both removed,” Jones said. “I didn’t want to think about going through this again, so I chose a bi-lateral mastectomy (both breasts removed) with immediate reconstruction.”

Though some women choose to remain flat after a mastectomy, Jones said as a woman with larger breasts, she didn’t want to “come out of surgery with nothing.” Now two sizes smaller but free of cancer, she said she is forever grateful for not only her surgeon, but also her “miracle worker” plastic surgeon, Dr. Bahram Ghaderi M.D.

Ghaderi, who works in St. Charles, said patients like Jones, who require reconstructive surgery, are more common then people realize.

“Really, plastic surgeons as a group do more reconstructive then cosmetic surgeries,” Ghaderi said. “The fact that we are (real) doctors has gone out with the popularity of reality TV shows. I think people lose sight that any surgery is significant, and that (reconstructive or cosmetic) surgery is taken lightly until they learn what it takes to go through it.”

Jones said she now knows firsthand through her own experience how difficult it is to recover from plastic surgery.

“It was hard; because I had both breasts removed, I had to have four drains and I couldn’t really use my arms,” Jones said. “So I was really limited; I couldn’t drive, shower or do a lot of everyday things until the plastic surgeon said it was OK, because if you’re not careful you can damage the work that has been done.”

Though she is pleased with her new breasts and jokes half-heartedly about their perkiness at an older age, she said she could not imagine going through the procedure on purpose.

“You know I wouldn’t recommend it unless it is needed (due to an illness),” Jones said. “But I would say Dr. Ghaderi is one in a million, because I don’t think he is in this for the money (as is often portrayed of plastic surgeons). He treated me as a person, a woman first and that is so important, especially for those who don’t ask for it (plastic surgery).”

From babies to the elderly, Dr. Ghaderi said he has seen his fair share of those who don’t ask for it.

“Our most common procedure is removing skin lesions, but we also do a lot of breast reconstruction after breast cancer, some repair from car accidents and skin graphs after a burn,” Ghaderi said. “And we see a lot of kids especially after a dog bite or to help with an ear deformity or cleft lip.”

Ghaderi said these procedures are part of the reason he became a plastic surgeon.

“Most people look at doctors as people who provide a service to the community, and we (plastic surgeons) are seen as a commodity, like buying a car,” Ghaderi said. “So the cosmetic end may have lessened the complexity of what we do, but (like any other doctor) we are here to help people. And although we can’t make an unhappy person become happy-no amount of surgery can do that-if there is one area of a person that we can improve (either for reconstructive or cosmetic reasons), then those are the people we can help the most.”

A plastic surgeon should

• Have board certification with the
American Society of Plastic Surgeons

• Have hospital privileges

• Perform consultation and examination
prior to surgery

• Explain treatment, diagnosis, options,
risks and benefits for all options

• Provide follow up appointments

• Answers all questions thoroughly

For information on cancer support groups:

Living Well Cancer Resource Center
Mastectomy Networking Group
1803 W. State St.
(630) 262-1111