61 Yrs Young and Happy After Having a "Do Over" Back to my Real Self! - Beverly Hills, CA

Breast cancer is so last year! Seriously! The...

Breast cancer is so last year! Seriously! The diagnosis of LCIS in my right breast and invasive ductal carcinoma in my left breast, hit me like a tsunami. I could not get the cancer out of my body soon enough! After 3 biopsies and a view of my films - which looked like a galaxy of white spots - I knew that I would have a double mastectomy. My decision was questioned by oncological surgeons and plastic surgeons I consulted with, as to why I would choose such a radical procedure. The biopsy of my breast tissues after the mastectomy, found undetected LCIS in the left breast as well - good decision I was told. I knew from previous experience with breast implants that I did not want them ever again. When I told plastic surgeons this, the looks of shock and surprise were followed by statements that I would have to have them, that fat grafting alone was not a choice, and that I would not be happy. I also said that I would rather have two nice clean zipper type scars than implants - talk about shock and awe! What followed was me going forward first with 424cc round silicone implants, which spent more time in my armpits than in my bra. I was finally able to get in to see a renowned surgeon who told me what he thought I needed - 595cc 410 Allergan gummy bears. It was like having padded knees stuck to my chest, cold, hard, immovable and a considerable amount of neck and shoulder pain, from carrying around the equivalent of two large sports water bottles on my chest. I did everything I could to adjust my thoughts and feelings to accept what I was told I could not change.
Then during a long walk on the beach this past January , my husband asked me if I was happy with my breasts. I was at a loss for words for several minutes, until the floodgates opened up. What poured out was that I was nowhere in the vicinity of happy. There was nothing about these things in my chest that was right with me - not the size, the weight, the shape, the feel - absolutely nothing! I had sealed off this part of myself with the equivalent of impenetrable surgical tape, nothing in and nothing out. He told me that I needed to do whatever it took, including more surgery, if need be, to be happy. That conversation set me off on a mission to find happy again. I came across real self.com and a review on Dr. Lisa Cassileth, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, CA. I could hardly contain myself waiting for my consultation. It was a completely different experience than the four prior consultations I had last year. Dr. Cassileth's friendliness and professionalism impressed me as she planted herself on her chair. Here was a surgeon who actually asked me what I wanted and listened - she wasn't there with one foot in the door and the other out - rushing to another patient. This hour and a half meeting was longer the previous four put together. Dr. Cassileth wanted all of my surgical records and a second consult to make a plan for my surgery. I walked out of her office literally floating on air - almost afraid to believe that I could be whole again, without breast implants, with my own body fat, and back to my real self. I called my husband and daughter and told them that I was so happy that I could hardly contain it. My case was pretty complex due to multiple surgeries, thinning of the lower pole of the breast and the repair of my pectoral muscles. On the day of my surgery, Dr. Cassileth met with me to mark me for surgery, but before that she spent time with me - again wanting to know if I had any other questions or any other concerns that we had not covered. I went into surgery with complete peace of mind that I was finally in the right place and in the right hands.
This was the quickest recovery of the four surgeries and other than the soreness from the lipo, which she told me to expect, I've been virtually pain-free. My breasts are small and perky and I love them! I am exactly 3 weeks out from surgery and have been walking, dancing and exercising within my short-term restrictions. I'm athletic and love to work out , so that is something I do with great respect for my body, and it has served me well. It is so good to be me again, I wake up smiling every day and I am so happy and grateful. I knew what I wanted last year from the beginning of this journey, as far as my breasts were concerned. Through it all, I have gained a greater self awareness, to be true and stay true to myself. But, we can't reconstruct ourselves, we have to rely upon physicians for that. Breast reconstruction is so complex, it takes a lot more skill, experience and finesse than breast augmentation. Dr. Cassileth isn't the best because she's a woman. She is a highly trained, gifted and engaged physician, whose practice is patient centered and driven. I am sharing my experience on real self, because so many other women have done so. If not for them, other women would not have the benefit of their experiences - I certainly would not have. This site led me to Dr. Cassileth and her great staff. Where's my big hat Pharrell? I need one for my happy dance!!!

3 wk Post-op Pictures

Each of us has our own idea of what is pleasing to us, this is mine.

424cc round silicone implants

After the mastectomy with tissue expanders, second surgery - TE's were removed and these things were placed. I took this picture after the drains and dressings came off, while laying down. Really? My surgeon looked at me like this and thought what? Good job? She told me later that fat injections would help and that I shouldn't expect perfection. I knew I was headed for more surgery....with a different surgeon.
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Absolutely the best possible choice of plastic surgeon anywhere, hands down. Dr. Cassileth's skills and expertise were truly put to the test on my case. What I wanted was to be implant free, to have my pectoral muscles repaired, my own nipples, a fat transfer, and not to be concave - anything else would be a bonus. The outcome of my breast reconstruction has far exceeded anything I had hoped for. My best wishes to all of the other wonderful women out there who are going through a journey of their own. I am thankful that mine led me to her doorstep.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (13)

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Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so happy that you found the right surgeon that not only gave you good results but treated you with the respect that everyone deserves! Did you have your implants taken out at the same time of your fat grafting? Sending you the best!
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since this was still considered reconstruction did your insurance help with the cost of your fat grafting or did they consider it cosmetic? I still have my expanders n and trying to plan accordingly..also have you noticed more sensation returning to the area with new blood and nerve innervation?
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Yes, fat grafting is considered part of reconstruction and was covered by insurance. The sensation is returning and definitely more . Hope this helps.
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di you have to get special permission to go to an out of network doctor or was she in your insurance network..she would be out of state for me
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She isn't in any network, however her office will take care of submitting pre-authorizations for patients. They were very helpful.
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Once authorized, they accepted my insurance being paid directly to them. Any uncovered amount to be billed to me. I only paid the consult fee out of pocket.
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wow so nice to know she is an option..i have enjoyed watching her youtube videos,,thanks so much for sharing all this info..after reading so terrible reviews about dr khouri its nice to know there are alternatives ..and I am always more comfortable around a woman doctor
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After my consult eith Dr. Cassileth, I flew to Miami for a consult with Dr. Khouri. Since he pioneered fat grafting and Brava, and had the most experience, I had to weigh that important factor. He was rude, dismissive and arrogant. He would not even look at the photos I had downloaded from the internet, to give him an idea of what I hoped for, because the were not from his website. I told him that none of those were of the smaller size that I wanted. He told me that I could not go smaller because of the previous mastopexies- the nipples would not survive. He took a long phone call during our consult, then stepped outside snd continued the call. Dr. K then asked if a visiting doctor could step in, I consented. He spent less than 10 minutes talking to me - not with me. He said I would not need Brava., but would have to fly back for 3 or more procedures. I booked a date for surgery to allow myself time to consider. By the time I returned home, I knew without a doubt, that Dr. Cassileth was the right choice for me. I know there are so many decisions along the way, we can just gather as much information as we can, listen to others, but ultimately trust ourselves. I wish you the very best.
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Forgot to mention, it was so startling to hear from a physician - no less a reconstructive plastic surgeon, your breasts aren't too large for you - they 're grotesque.
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So how are you doing?. . Have you retained most of the fat transfer? Any photos to update?
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I'm so happy you shared your unique and inspiring story on RealSelf. Your review exudes not only relief and joy, but a sense of freedom. Good for you for following your instincts with the double mastectomy too! Hoping you and your husband have many more wonderful walks on the beach! ;)
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Thanks Beth, I appreciate your good thoughts. Wishing you all happiness as well:)
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Thanks! And thank you for posting your "before" picture. It's so helpful for other women. It gives them hope that they can also be reconstructed and happy again!
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