A Los Angeles plastic surgeon has developed an innovative reconstructive technique for breast cancer survivors who don’t want implants – “all within the same surgery as their mastectomy”.

Beverly Hills surgeon Dr Lisa Cassileth told Health Magazine: “There are women who want implants and others who want to go flat. That’s their choice to make. I just wanted to provide another option for women who didn’t feel like those were the directions they wanted to go in.

“That’s how SWIM – Skin-sparing Wise-pattern Internal Mammary perforator – was developed. It combines a nipple-saving mastectomy, where all the breast tissue is removed, and the leftover skin and fat from the breast is used to create a new breast.

“With breast reconstruction – and specifically as a female – you’re more likely to see the patient as yourself. I’m not just creating hot boobs so a woman can be hot. I’m listening to patients and thinking: How can I best fulfill what she wants for herself?”

Dr Cassileth (herself a doctor’s daughter) noted she was “actually an architecture major in college and loved it. You take physics and biology as part of your architecture studies, and they clicked with me”. By specialising in plastic surgery, “with my architecture background I was already a little more spatially trained; I understood how to rearrange things.”

She also emphasised the importance for “women going through tough medical situations” to “advocate for themselves”, noting: “I love a patient who comes in and has looked things up on the internet and has questions. . . . It allows us to have a conversation and allows me to talk to the patient about why I do things the way I do them. . . . If a doctor has a problem with you asking questions, they are not the right doctor for you.” AMP

Sources: Health Magazine and health.com

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