This weekend I travelled to Atlanta while sitting in my office in Encino! I attended the Atlanta Breast Symposium, a world-class event, by means of a webcast. This was my first experience with this type of thing. By attending a meeting via webcast, one does give up the camaraderie of fellow experienced plastic surgeons, but it is still very worthwhile. In an ideal world, doctors would go to medical meetings in person, but as one fellow webcast viewer who is a professor of plastic surgery in Puerto Rico texted, “It sure beats no meeting!” After all, I still had the opportunity to see everything at the meeting on my computer screen, including live surgery. I did so without spending 16 hours of travel time (this includes driving to and from the airport in both Atlanta and L.A. plus waiting time at the airport) as well as ~$2500 for airfare, cabs, meals, and course tuition. The course cost me only $349, which includes the opportunity to review the course videotape for 3 months, and allowed me to see patients in L.A. on Friday from 9 AM onward and do surgery Friday afternoon. Had I flown out for Atlanta on Thursday to make the meeting by Friday morning, I would have needed to cancel surgery on Thursday and Friday as well as missing office hours on Thursday and Friday. Wow! I never realized how expensive meetings were in terms of time, missed opportunities, and finances!! It was a bit of an adjustment getting up at 3:15 AM on Friday in order to work out and make it fully dressed to my office by 5 AM, but I am an early riser anyway- plus I slept in my own bed for 3 nights!
So what did I learn at the Breast Symposium? Several things that were of interest:
• 3-D Simulation of the results anticipated from breast augmentation is now, “Ready for Prime Time!” The preoperative simulated results from the Canfield Vectra XT 3-D Imager were compared with the actual postoperative results. Impressively, they were virtually identical! This is very exciting, since the #1 question that patients ask at their initial consult is, “What will I look like after surgery?” I have not yet seen results showing breast uplifts, but what I have seen is a great improvement over what has been available until now. This technology is also very helpful for patients who want to compare their anticipated appearance with different sizes and styles of implants. I use imaging in my office for breast and nasal surgery cases and this newest piece of technology may find its way to my “wish list.”
• The use of ADM’s (Strattice and Alloderm) for the treatment of capsular contracture is very promising. Capsular Contracture (CC) is the #1 complication after breast augmentation surgery. CC is the squeezing down of the normal scar tissue that grows around every breast implant and that leads to an unattractive look, can be painful, and can interfere with mammograms. ADM stands for Acellular Dermal Matrix and is marketed under the names Alloderm and Strattice. It is nothing more than skin from a human or a pig. It has been treated so as to remove all cells so that just the collagen framework remains. When treating CC, the scar tissue around the implant is excised and the part of the implant that is not covered by muscle is then covered by the ADM. Although it is expensive (adding ~$4,000 to the surgical fee), it is great to know that we now have something additional to use in cases of CC that do not respond to removal of scar tissue/massage/Singulair/strict sterile technique.
• In my post of January 7, 2012 (https://www.drsanders.com/blog), I mentioned the use of a device used to suspend the breast by means of internal sutures, thus accomplishing a “scarless breast lift.” A patient who was operated at the previous year’s meeting had undergone such a procedure by the inventor of the device. We were able to see that person interviewed on video and to see their current appearance as well as their pre-op photos. The inventor of the device, Dr. Jack Fisher, spoke about the results. The device offers a subtle improvement by lifting the nipple up by ~1/2 inch and also shifts breast tissue upward to a degree. Hopefully further refinements in the device will yield even more improvement.
For those of you who are concerned that my continuing medical education efforts may be slipping, don’t worry! I have not given up actually going to medical meetings and will be off to Miami in 3 weeks!! This is the real deal – I will actually be there in person – no virtual trip. A full report will be forthcoming on a future blog. I will also be able to give you the latest on the Kennedy Space Center, which is nearby!
Should you have any questions about any of the above, please contact my office.