Doranne Vega came to see Kelsey-Seybold plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Jamal Bullocks in hopes of getting relief from the pain that scar tissue from a previous double-mastectomy was causing. Her pain prevented her from even comfortably wearing her breast prosthesis.Instead of just relief from her pain, Doranne received total breast reconstruction that turned her life around.Doranne had seen another plastic surgeon, but he wouldn’t operate until she lost weight. Meanwhile, her pain had worsened because of necrosis and a bad infection from saline expanders that had been put in to prepare her for saline implants.
“Even though the first plastic surgeon is an excellent plastic surgeon, he’s not a specialist in reconstruction. Dr. Bullocks is. So my breast cancer doctor recommended I see him instead,” she said.“The right breast had very little tissue, and it was stretched and adhering to the chest wall. So whenever I moved, it really hurt,” she recalled. “I got my prosthetics, and I was just going to do that. I’m not a real vain person. But the more that the tissue contracted, the more pain I was in, and I started hunching over.
”Realizing Doranne couldn’t go several more months to meet the surgeon’s weight loss requirements, her doctor referred her to Dr. Bullocks.“I went to see Dr. Bullocks, and he gave me a 90 percent chance of success, even with my diabetes and circulatory problems. That’s pretty much all that I needed to hear,” she said.
“Weight wasn’t a concern for Dr. Bullocks, and as soon as he told me he could do this, I lost 10 pounds! I’ve lost probably 75 more pounds since then.
”Dr. Bullocks discussed options with Doranne, including the DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap procedure, an advanced microsurgical technique for breast reconstruction. The patient’s own abdominal skin and fat are used to help restore a natural, warm, soft breast after mastectomy. This technique spares the abdominal musculature, which means that recovery is faster and complications are fewer than with other surgical options. Breast reconstruction that uses the patient’s own tissue is popular because the consistency of the abdominal tissue is very similar to natural breast tissue. Women who undergo the DIEP flap reconstruction also benefit from improved abdominal contouring, much like a “tummy tuck.”
“He spent time to thoroughly explain the procedure in detail. He also let me know it would be a long procedure. And it was…because of the microsurgery that’s involved. But I knew what he was going to do and how he was going to do it. He took all the time to explain and make sure I was ready,” she said.
Dr. Bullocks performed Doranne’s DIEP flap reconstruction surgery in November 2011, forming new breasts and removing the scar tissue that was causing her so much pain. She had a second surgery in March 2012 where he made modifications, which included adding nipples.
“I’m 66, so getting the breasts wasn’t a vanity thing. I told him I’d be grateful for whatever he could do,” Doranne shared. “Being older, you wouldn’t think somebody would care that much about how an older person looks. Dr. Bullocks made me feel like a rock star. He was like, ‘so what does your age have to do with any of this?’ He made me feel beautiful and that I deserved to have this done, that I deserve to be out of the pain – and that makes a huge difference.”She couldn’t be happier with the results. Although there isn’t any sensation in her new breasts, they look natural in clothes.
“I got perky Cs!” Doranne enthused, describing her new size as an improvement from her previous double-Ds. “They’re nice, they’re symmetrical and they’re comfortable.
”She highly recommends Dr. Bullocks, who has a laid-back presence and “easy smile” that conveys confidence.
“I went into it without any fear.
That’s the kind of feeling he instilled in me. His staff is the same way. He instills a sense of peace in you. He’s very calm, and he has this ability to explain so you understand exactly what’s going on and what’s going to happen not just during surgery but your recovery,” she said. “I tell people if anything ever happens, get in to see Dr. Bullocks as fast as you can. I always felt like I was his only patient. If he makes all his patients feel that way, holy cow, that’s a talent.”