Victoria's Breast Reconstruction*
Victoria, age 30
Being a mommy, spending time with my family, traveling
Oncology nurse (starting June 1, 2015)
What was your procedure?
Breast reconstruction after a prophylactic double mastectomy
Please describe the circumstances that led to your cancer diagnosis.
My father was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2006. Throughout his treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, they had spoken to him about the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic mutations. My siblings and I learned of the chances that we may all have mutated genes as well. Our family discussed this at great length and decided that all of us wanted to be tested to see if we had the BRCA 1&2 mutations. In November of 2006 we had our blood drawn and tested at the University of Louisville hospital in the genetic unit of Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center. My sister's test was negative for the BRCA 1&2, my brother was positive for the BRCA 2 and I was positive for the BRCA 1 & 2. So although this was not a cancer diagnosis this was my time to beat cancer before it could beat me.
What motivated you to pursue plastic surgery?
When I found out about the genetic mutation I knew immediately I wanted to do everything possible that I could prophylactically do to beat cancer before it beat me. Therefore the mastectomy was an absolute definite procedure for me. Because of the fact that I was 23 years old at the time I knew I would want to do the breast reconstruction for my own confidence and self-esteem. On top of that though, I realized through this journey that I wanted to work with cancer patients and I knew that if I went through both procedures I would have my own experiences/feelings that I could eventually share with other people who are making these same choices in their life.
How much research did you do?
I actually was pregnant at the time I was told about the mutation so I spent almost two years actually researching my options, procedures, attending breast cancer seminars, and I actually interviewed plastic surgeons throughout the United States including locations such as Tampa, FL and Beverly Hills, CA.
Did you talk to family members/friends about your plans?
I did speak to all of my immediate family about my options and my decisions. My father also stayed by my side the whole time attending interviews with doctors, cancer seminars, all of it.
Was Dr. Mizuguchi recommended or did you find him on your own?
I had originally found Dr. Mizuguchi on my own through research online. After I found him that way and started asking around I found many people that had been to him for other procedures that would absolutely refer me to him. I now have referred him to many people that I know for procedures and all of them chose him to do their procedures and they absolutely love his work as well.
How many plastic surgeons did you consult?
By phone and internet, I spoke to many offices and doctors. By actual face-to-face consultations, there were only three plastic surgeons that I chose to actually consult in person.
Please describe your consultation with Dr. Mizuguchi. Did you have more than one consultation?
My consult with Dr. Mizuguchi was the last consult I went to and it was literally a miracle come true. By the time I met him in person I was very discouraged and depressed about the whole situation, thinking that I would never find a surgeon that I trusted. To my surprise Dr. Mizuguchi himself was everything and more that people had described him to be. His personality, honesty, attention and most of all his respect to my concerns and wishes exceeded my expectations. Beyond just the doctor himself, his office staff members were all so positive and caring. I could not believe at my consultation just how comfortable and welcome they made me feel.
What is it about Dr. Mizuguchi that led you to choose him?
When I was doing my research on surgeons I actually spoke to surgical techs or nurses that had at one time worked with Dr. Mizuguchi in surgery. I wanted to know which doctors rushed through their cases and which ones spent as much time as was needed to make sure that they did the absolute best plastic surgery that they could. Dr. Mizuguchi was spoken of so highly. Not one person had a negative thing to say about him. Knowing these things about him from others is what led me to make my initial consult with him. At the consultation Dr. Mizuguchi was the exact person people described him as. His passion for what he does, his positive attitude and his respect for me, my ideas, my concerns and my goals as the patient were the reasons I chose him to be my surgeon.
Was the breast reconstruction done immediately after the mastectomy, or in separate operations?
My first phase of reconstruction was done immediately after my oncology surgeon finished the mastectomy. I woke up from my mastectomy with the tissue expanders in and filled with as much saline as possible at that time.
Did you feel prepared for the procedure?
I felt absolutely 100% prepared. I felt like I was very aware of what the procedure entailed, what to expect before the procedure and what to expect after as well. I was completely ready.
Did you have implants as part of the reconstruction?
Yes, I do have implants. They were still in research at the time I had them put in and most people call them the "gummy bear" implants!
What was your recovery like? Did it match what you expected?
Ha ha, my recovery was painful. But yes I completely expected the amount of pain I had. The pain was definitely discussed to me before the procedure. I feel though that I thought the pain was worse than others may have felt because number one it was the first surgery I had ever had and secondly I had the mastectomy and first stage of reconstruction done at the same time. After that initial procedure and I had the tissue expanders I would go to Dr. Mizuguchi's office for my follow ups and saline injections which led me to my final surgery where they put the actual real implants in. After Dr. Mizuguchi did that procedure the pain was very minimal compared to the initial procedure.
Please describe your interaction with the staff at our practice?
They were all wonderful. I know that throughout all of my visits to Dr. Mizuguchi's office I got to know two nurses pretty well because they were my nurses on most of my visits and I always felt extremely comfortable with them and they always had positive things to say. All of the office staff was great from the time I walked in the door and was greeted to the time I was walking out and scheduling my next follow up. I never had one bad experience there, ever.
*Keep in mind that each patient is unique and your results may vary.