amazing services and great compassion! Charlotte, NC

I had to have a double mastectomy, and Dr. Capizzi...

I had to have a double mastectomy, and Dr. Capizzi and his staff made the reconstruction process do-able and as easy as it could be. Great technical abilities, wonderful compassion and a marvelously caring staff helped during a very difficult time in my life. Would recommend him for anything PS!!!
I see you are 9 years post-op. Are you still happy with your results? Glad to hear you had a nice doctor during a challenging time. ;)
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WHERE I AM, 9 YEARS OUT....

I have an appointment with Dr. Capizzi on 6/24/14 because my "gummy bears" (am I now 62) are suddenly hard, wonky lumpy, and achy. Feeling very positive that I can trust what he tells me is our best step, whether they are okay -- revise or remove.

Am posting some of my first photos from my initial reconstruction. Do not have photos of the "wonkiness" :)
I hope you update after your consult on June 24. It sounds like maybe you have some capsular contracture or something if they are now hard and wonky? Unfortunately one is always at risk for CC with implants, especially with reconstruction patients. Sounds like you have a great rapport with your surgeon and that is very helpful at this time. You had a great result after your second revision!
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ScubaCat -- Dr. Capizzi is one of the many outstanding doctors I'm blessed to have found since I have multiple chronic illnesses. When my insurance turned down my Alloderm, I did an appeal which he asked for a copy of to help other patients get it approved at BC/BS of NC. I was happy to do that. Been blessed to know him on a more personal level, as well. But that's true of all my "ologists" and my wonderful GP. Will update after I talk with him tomorrow. Kinda nervous about it all. Maybe it's just my imagination?
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24 JUN 2014 CONSULTATION RE: WONKY "GUMMY BEARS"

I saw Dr. Capizzi yesterday, and he agreed that the implants had hardened due to encapsulation (sp?), and that we could remove them entirely, or replace them. Since I had the "original"s by Allergan, after some information about the Sientra, and finding out how much better they've gotten than when I was in the 10 year initial study, I have decided to have them replaced.

We are setting up surgery -- about 1 1/2 hours, he said. Office is verifying my insurance, getting a note from my GP that I'm okay for surgery, etc. No photos to post yet, but will get husband to do some Befores, so we can post afters.

I know at 62 this may need to happen again in my lifetime, but the lifespan of the Sientra's are longer, and complications lower by considerable percentages. And at 72, who knows? Can't worry that far ahead!

Dr. Capizzi was wonderful -- same sweet, empathetic and enormously direct man as always. His staff is top notch, and very, very kind. All around, a good visit.
ScubaCat -- I had my first reconstruction after my initial cancer in 2002. Then I got a new occurrence in the RT side, and did the mastectomy; went through all the reconstruction, and they just weren't what I thought. Dr. Capizzi was great about swapping them out, and I've been happy with them until this bout of contracture and pain. I also have the Alloderm on both sides. My understanding is that somehow your body changes it to have your DNA and cells. TMI. Revisions are NOT bad -- since I've had 2 already, for different reasons. Sometimes I wish that I didn't scare so profoundly, but then again, hardly any one sees them! Just as an FYI, some local tattoo parlors (AND CHECK THEM OUT THOROUGHLY) do the nipple coloring, and do a much better job than the anesthetician at the plastic surgeons. Like all tattooing, they do fade. Don't know where you are at on that one. We have a great place here in town, and the owner's mom is a BC survivor, so he's very cool about doing these. Keep in touch and let me know how you're doing. And I'll get Jim to take some BEFORE photos so you can see my afters and appreciate it! Blessings on your day.
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AnnieG522, I actually had nipple sparing, but when I was unsure as to whether or not I was going to keep them I had looked at a couple tattoo artists (Vinnie Meyers, and a place out on Vancouver Island, mostly) and was willing to travel to do it. If I bothered, in my case my natural nipples were/are so darn pale anyway! Your body integrates with the Alloderm in a few months or so. Kind of neat, and definitely has been a benefit to breast reconstruction. It was Alloderm that allowed me to do a direct-to-implant procedure and avoid tissue expanders. Yeah, I know revisions are VERY common after reconstruction, so certainly it is not something I was unaware of before, I just am hoping for as few interventions as possible. I have been very fortunate to have a very good recovery, I know women who have had so many complications and revisions.
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PRE-OP VISIT FOR RECONSTRUCTION REVISION is 16 JULY

All my insurance paperwork went through (technically he is not in network, but BC/BS makes exceptions if no one is closer than 25 miles, especially since he did the original surgeries.) My surgery is scheduled for Wed, 23 July. This will be my FOURTH reconstruction surgery. Feeling a little nervous but am hoping the pre-op visit will help. Registered at the hospital, okayed by my GP and my cardiologist. His office has been great to do everything in a very timely manner, with little need for concern on my part about everything being right!

Capsular Contraction as of 14Jul2014

You can see the difference from my original post, the photo on the far right. Will post the "after" and process photos after surgery. Hopefully it will be useful to someone :)
Thanks for posting the photos Annie..very helpful. I can see your discomfort but it also looks like you have a lot to work with. I'm banking on some great results for you. Hooray on the insurance! Sending positive and healthy thoughts your way. Glad you're not giving up as 62 is still young!
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I wish you health and a speedy recovery. Also, research "dental work causing contracture in breast implants". Not all doctors believe there is a true correlation there. But it may be worth researching. The solution is to take antibiotics even before a routine cleaning. There's so much controversy, however, about over using antibiotics--you know like because of that we now have MRSA, MRSS, and MRSP. Ugh. Nonetheless, it can't hurt to just read up on it.
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Thank you for the solid information. I actually hadn't gone to the dentist in 25 years (yep), and went Jan-Mar right before I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease; had several extractions (and lots of stress). Just finished a round of antibiotics after my cleaning. I can't take many antibiotics, but because I have a heart stent I sometimes do. Obviously my immune system sucks since I have had so many problems, but still consider myself healthy. All my other docs & ologists have given me the go ahead for this surgery. But am hoping to keep dental work to every 6 months cleaning (hard lesson learned!) Hope someone else sees this post as well. Thanks for caring about us!
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16 JULY PRE OP VISIT

All went well -- thanks to each of you for prayers and kind thoughts & wishes :) All my questions were thoroughly answered; I did ask to touch the Sientra type that I was getting, and was very impressed with its flexibility, durability and coating to prevent capsular contraction (they even have a warranty!). Got my prescrips (antibiotic and pain) filled, all registered at the hospital and cleared by all my other "ologists" and GP for surgery. SO, next Wednesday the 23rd at 2:00 pm ET, there I'll be. Only worried about the anesthesia, because I have so many drug issues and bad reactions, but have been at this hospital many, many times for surgery and heart caths, so they "know" me. The recovery will depend on how much capsular contraction they have to clean out, but I knew that already. FYI, Sientra has a great reputation, is American owned and incorporated, but no stock available (which makes sense because their market is limited to plastic surgeons). FDA gave them a great endorsement, and the photo's I've seen at the Stillwater Plastic Surgery site are awesome. So, hopefully the frankenboobs will be okay. (PS: I think of myself as a post-menopausal cyborg)

21JUL2014 - Pre Op with Anesthesia/Hospital

Everyone was great -- my file was in good shape, but they reviewed it all with 2 different people, making doubly sure that it was correct. Got my special soap, and instructions to shower the night before, and the day of surgery. Going to use propofol (sp?) as the anesthesia, said I could take a Xanax for the drive to Charlotte, and then versade during pre op. So, I ought to be calm! The good thing about the propofol is that it acts quickly, but you come out of it quickly, too! So....countdown!

24JUL2014 - Surgery over

All went well; got there at 11:30 a ET, was prepped and in surgery promptly at 2:00p. Anesthesiolgist was GREAT, and got my vein first stick (not easy with chemo veins). All the nurses were lovely. My doc said all went perfectly. I am loosely bandaged and pretty sore, but will take some more pain meds, and switch to Tyenol Sat. When I can take bandage off, will post the photos. Still a little groggy, and sore. But could do it again at 72 if I have to! Thanks for all the lovely wishes and prayers. You guys are the best. Signing off for now.
Glad you had the Verced and Xanax to accompany you pre-op! Do you hydrate a lot prior to a "stick" to help with finding veins? Take care and keep us posted as you heal. Praying for a quick and easy recovery!
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Hi Annie, Glad to read that all went well and I wish you a speedy recovery. Let's hope that this surgery does it and you can finally be done!
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POST OP Photos - 4 days after surgery

Took my shower this am, and took off the loose bandages. Everything looks great! And they feel like real breasts. He did 625cc Sientra in LT, 600cc Sientra in the RT. Already hurt far less than before surgery, and right now it's only the itching/achy from the incisions.

He did a great job. Go to the Unique Boutique for a bra fitting on 22 August. Always hard to find an "off the rack" bra that fits well. And with BC, it's covered by insurance.

Hope the photos help someone with their decisions :) Thanks for all the wonderful support.
Annie, Happy to read that this surgery was less painful than the past surgeries. Nice to hear that you are feeling better, I bet the shower felt wonderful !
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30Jul2014 - First Post Op Visit

Things looked good -- the surgical glue was removed, and I was told that i should start feeling nerve reconnection pain. And I have! Owwie! Like electric shops. Did not sleep well, apparently woke up my sweet husband when I was screaming like a banshee! He couldn't get back to sleep, but I did. Had to go very slow today -- reaching and bending is a challenge. Did get 3 bathrooms cleaned, and dusted the house as my women's group meets here tomorrow.

I go back in 3 weeks for another post op, barring any complications. Haven't needed anything for pain (even Tylenol) since the 3rd day after surgery. They are looking good, albeit bruised!
Hi Annie, just wanted to check in and see how you are doing? I hope GREAT!!!
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Oh yikes...hoping you're taking this week off from cleaning! Are you sleeping any better yet? Do you think you'll be ready for your bra fitting by 8/22? Thanks for your update!
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One Month Post Op

Dr. Capizzi checked everything out, and all is healing well. I go back Oct 21st. Their office has been great with my insurance -- some stuff was coded IN patient and denied -- it was all OUT patient. But getting it fixed, between the hospital and BC/BS Medicare is a stressful business. Gotta love the office staff at Stillwater Plastic Surgery for all their help and endless patience!

They FEEL great -- no pain in the area, stitches a little itchy as they absorb. Had a "knot" cut, so it could heal up. The one thing I do know (sadly) is that reconstructed breasts never look like breast augmentation pictures. We always hope -- but am okay with what I got.

I hate October and all its pinkness. Appreciate the solidarity, but how does going braless help those of us who lost breasts in what feels like a mutilation, regardless of how skilled the thoracic surgeon? Ah well -- we humans don't "get it" until we get it! Prayers that no one else goes through breast cancer!
Love pink -- had this all typed and hadn't logged on -- sheesh -- I get squirrelier every day. Doing okay as my updated review said. Right now I have a Lifewatch heart monitor on 24/7 for 2 weeks to rule out some stuff. The electrodes patches are sticky, and a little uncomfortable. Unlike your "love pink" handle, I don't like October. I am grateful to have survived so much, but sad for the beloved friends I lost, my friends who are having recurrences right now, and those who are newly diagnosed. Grief and survivor guilt surface pretty heavily during Oct. Had to stop doing the walk, the year the lady who had 17 balloons the year before didn't come -- she had passed. Everyone handles it differently. Appreciate your friendship and concern! My real email is m**** at gmail dot com.
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The bra fitting went well, and Medicare paid for 6 bras, 2 prosthesis, and 4 cami's. Can't wear them yet as Dr. C said no compression. And I'm wearing a 24/7 Lifewatch heart monitor for a couple of weeks for some other problems. (Hooray for Adriamycin, Methotrexate, and 5-FU, besides radiation that beamed towards my heart.) Wait, I'm still here, so erase that thought. Had an MRI (no change in my brain tumor, no new problems, no strokes) -- had a complex EEG (no seizures or weird waves), and the ENT pronounced me fine in that area. So -- next step is, are things related to another heart issue. I personally think I am just crazy! Thanks for checking on me. Annie
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Charlotte Plastic Surgeon

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