NEW YORK, NY – An estimated 207,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States in 2010. Women diagnosed with breast cancer face both physical and emotional hurdles. Plastic surgeons are often called upon to reconstruct a woman’s breast following mastectomy, but some members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the nation’s leading organization of board-certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic plastic surgery, go beyond their traditional roles to also help women restore their optimism for the future.
Eleven years ago, Salt Lake City, Utah, plastic surgeon Renato Saltz, MD, founded the Image Reborn Foundation (www.imagerebornfoundation.org), a retreat program for women with breast cancer. The purpose of the retreat is to provide a healing environment in which women with breast cancer are encouraged to reclaim their sense of personal power.
“As a plastic surgeon, I can reconstruct a woman’s breast and make it look very natural, says Dr. Saltz, ASAPS past-president, “but there’s more to feeling ‘whole’ again than just the physical aspect. A lot of what these patients need is to reconnect with themselves, and sometimes this is easier in a supportive group setting among people who understand what the cancer experience is like.”
The three day long Image Reborn Foundation retreats are held in the beautiful Park City mountains. The retreats offered at no cost to the women are completely supervised and run by breast cancer survivors and include support groups, medical education, advice on nutrition and exercise, massage therapy and simple relaxation. To date, over 1200 women have participated.
“The waiting is often the worst and most agonizing part of a diagnosis of breast cancer,” says Princeton, New Jersey, plastic surgeon Marc Alan Drimmer, MD, founder of the Princeton Breast Institute. The Institute, which Dr. Drimmer began in 1987, is dedicated to assisting women through the entire process of breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. “We begin by making sure that every patient receives immediate attention, with the necessary testing conducted within 24 hours of her first visit. That allows us to provide patients with a professional support team right from the beginning.” The Institute also sponsors breast cancer patient support groups and develops educational materials to help women make informed choices about their treatment and recovery.
It has been seventeen years since ASAPS member Sheldon Lincenberg, MD, founded Pink Ribbons, an organization that sponsors an annual breast cancer fundraising fashion show in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the years, almost 200 survivors have walked the runway and nearly $1 million has been contributed to local breast cancer organizations. “What makes this event so unique is that many of the models are breast cancer survivors. “Breast cancer survivors often have concerns about body image and sexuality,” says Dr. Lincenberg. “This event, besides being a lot of fun, communicates the important message that women who have had breast cancer still look and feel glamorous.”
Drs. Saltz, Drimmer and Lincenberg have all been awarded the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s Certificate of Special Recognition for Community Service and Volunteerism. ASAPS initiated this certificate program in 2002 to recognize and encourage ASAPS members’ charitable and other contributions to their communities. Since the program’s inception, 88 ASAPS surgeons have received the certificate.
“Aesthetic plastic surgeons give back to their communities in many ways,” says ASAPS President Felmont Eaves, MD, of Charlotte, North Carolina. “The work that many of our members do to assist breast cancer patients is extremely important. This type of contribution is very typical of our profession. It’s one of the reasons that I am proud to be a plastic surgeon and an ASAPS member.”
Wai Yee, a woman who had breast reconstruction following a mastectomy, says, “During the initial period of my diagnosis all my thoughts were on recovery, now I want to get back with my life again. I want to look good. I want to feel healthy. And I think the reconstruction has helped me with that.”
For a firsthand look at a Wai Yee’s experience with breast reconstruction, please watch the following video from Project Beauty, ASAPS’ authoritative beauty site: http://www.projectbeauty.com/index.php/videos/watch/wai-yee-talks-about-her-reconstructive-breast-surgery/
To see a list of all recipients of the ASAPS Certificate of Special Recognition for Community Service and Volunteerism, along with a brief description of their volunteer activities, click on the link below: http://www.surgery.org/private/special-recognition
Plastic surgeons who have received the ASAPS Certificate of Special Recognition for Community Service and Volunteerism are available for interviews. Contact the ASAPS Communications Office.
The over 2,600-member American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is the only plastic surgery organization devoted entirely to the advancement of cosmetic surgery. ASAPS is recognized throughout the world as the authoritative source for cosmetic surgery education. U.S. members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Canadian members are certified in plastic surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Website: www.surgery.org.