Left to Right: Azadeh Riaz, Dr. Pamela Munster, Dr. Hausauer and Dr. Zeidler.
With Breast Cancer month approaching, we wanted to invite LVBX guest columnists and Aesthetx physicians, Dr. Kamakshi R. Zeidler and Dr. Amelia K. Hausauer to provide insight into breast cancer/reconstruction awareness and women’s health. An expert in aesthetic and reconstructive breast surgery, Dr. Zeidler is a thought leader on the topic of breast reconstruction and has supported countless breast cancer patients throughout their reconstruction journeys to restore their physical beauty and confidence. On October 11th, Dr. Zeidler will host her seventh annual BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) Day event which will bring together pioneers from the medical, sports and fashion industry to focus on the education and support of women dealing with breast cancer. Dr. Amelia K. Hausauer, a rising star in the field of minimally invasive aesthetics such as platelet rich plasma (PRP), microneedling, fillers, and neuromodulators (relaxing injectionables such as Botox), works side-by-side with Dr. Zeidler to help patients with safe treatments for the skin and hair post chemotherapy.
Q: Give us background on breast cancer statistics. Anything we might be surprised to know?
Dr. Zeidler: There are an estimated 266,120 new breast cancer cases expected to be diagnosed by the end of 2018 and remarkably less than half of these women will be offered breast reconstruction surgery. Additionally, with one in 400 women carrying the BRCA gene mutations, an increasing amount of women are considering elective breast reconstruction surgery. I am one of the few board certified plastic surgeons and one of a few women in the Bay Area formally trained in advanced breast reconstruction.
Q: Are there treatments and interventions than can change the course of our overall breast health? Any preventative measures we can take, or do genetics play the biggest role?
Dr. Zeidler: When it comes to breast health, a commitment to monitoring and early detection of any abnormalities is key. A healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, also don’t hurt when it comes to being proactive about one’s well being, but sometimes, even the healthiest of my patients do come in with breast cancer and in some cases genetics do play a large role.
Q:How does Aesthetx work to bring awareness, and support, to the fight against breast cancer and other women’s health issues?
Dr. Hausauer: Dr. Zeidler and I are very active in helping to educate the community about women’s health and speak regularly to a number of organizations on the topic of prevention, post-care, overall breast and skin health, etc. As a dermatologist, I always take these opportunities to discuss skin care awareness as well – early detection and preventative behavior. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in younger patients, especially women, and yet, tanning beds are still commonplace. Once you are diagnosed with one form of cancer, it’s not uncommon to be concerned about developing other forms, so this is a good time to educate and empower. Being proactive and in charge of your health and health care comes in all forms.
Q: If it’s not genetics alone, what other kind of factors contribute to breast cancer?
Dr. Zeidler: Although the precise causes of breast cancer are unclear, we know the main risk factors. The main risk factors are advancing age and a family history of breast cancer. Risk increases for a woman who has certain types of benign breast lumps and increases significantly for a woman who has previously had cancer of the breast or the ovaries.
Q: Are there any particular signs we should look for as we age? How often should we have screenings?
Dr. Zeidler: Any dramatic changes to the breast including a change in size or the detection of any lump should be attended to immediately. Starting at age 40, mammograms should be done yearly. If there is a family history of breast cancer, then screenings should be done as early as in the 20s in some cases. If there is any sign of breast cancer, then patients are to be screened every six months.
Q:What kinds of services does Aesthetx provide to support women’s breast health?
Dr. Zeidler: We are committed to utilizing state of the art equipment during surgery so that there is less trauma to the breast tissue. Finally, we work with the leading technology innovators in the breast reconstruction industry to ensure that our patients get the best treatments possible. For those patients that need additional care during their cancer journeys we partner with nonprofits, such as Cancer CAREpoint, who are able to provide a number of supportive services.
Q: What are safe treatments for patients’ skin and hair that can be performed post chemotherapy?
Dr. Hausauer: Chemotherapy and other medications can severely dry the skin. It can make it look shriveled, crackled or crepey. Using fragrance-free, thick moisturizers such as ointments (like Vaseline or Aquaphor), creams, or oils is better than lotions that have water and alcohol. Apply these when the skin is still moist, rather than bone dry. Allergen free (often labeled “hypoallergenic” or “clear”) detergents are also beneficial. Nails and hair can also take a beating during chemotherapy. Protecting your nails from chores and wet work with cotton-lined rubber gloves is an easy tip. The cause and duration of hair loss varies depending on medication. Some patients are good candidates for cooling caps that limit the chemo toxicity to hair follicles. This needs to be discussed with your oncologist and is not right in every case but can be helpful. Platelet rich plasma is a hot topic in hair loss right now but is not proven to be effective in this case. It is not first-line, and in some cases, should also be avoided. Discussing these and other options with a board-certified dermatologist familiar with such treatments is always the first step.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis and completing treatment–surgical and/or medical–can rob you of your sense of self. There are many physical and emotional changes, so little pick-me-ups such as medical-grade facials, Botox, and fillers can be immensely helpful. I like to discuss the options with patients and confirm that their medical team/oncologist is on board then let the transformation begin.
Q: What treatments can be done to erase scarring post reconstruction surgery?
Dr. Hausauer: Scarring is a particularly emotional topic, because once patients are on the other side of a diagnosis and treatment, scars may be a reminder of their struggles. While for some this can be a badge of strength, for many more of my patients, they symbolize what has been lost. Luckily, we now have multiple options to blur and soften scars. We start this discussion early, so that patients have a clear roadmap forward and feel in control of their future bodies. For redness and to prevent thickening, the Vbeam laser is a good option. It targets red blood cells and can be performed at the time when stitches or skin glue are removed just a few weeks post-operatively. Laser resurfacing and microneedling are my go-to methods for minimizing scars. It is impossible to completely erase them but both of these treatments (my favorite laser currently is called the Halo since we’ve had phenomenal results) when done is a series can make worlds of differences in smoothing and blending. The goal is to wear that swimsuit or lingerie without being self-conscious or only seeing scars and trauma. Everyone has the right to be comfortable in their own skin, so these are some of the most rewarding patients that I have the privilege of caring for.
Q: Tell us about Bra Day 2018; what will it entail and what are your hopes for this major event?
Dr. Zeidler: BRA Day 2018 provides an incredible opportunity to educate the community about breast cancer and the rising number of genetic mutations that put women at risk for breast cancer. My patients truly inspire me with the courage they show throughout their journeys and I love seeing how reconstruction helps restore their physical beauty and confidence. This year, Dr. Pamela Munster, Head of BRCA Research for UCSF and author of the new book, “Twisting Fate: My Journey with BRCA – from Breast Cancer Doctor to Patient and Back,” will be giving an intriguing update on the latest technology, research and advancements in reconstruction and breast cancer, specifically around the BRCA gene mutation. BRA Day 2018 will also feature leading companies such as Allergan and Sientra which will demonstrate some of the latest technological advancements. In addition to Dr. Munster, Brandi Chastain and Azadeh Riaz will be celebrity judges for the bra decorating contest. BRA Day 2018 will also showcase a video from a recent photo shoot featuring breast cancer survivors where Azadeh will be styling the patients who will then share their personal journeys.
I am particularly excited to have Azadeh join with me on this event given the natural synergy between plastic surgery and fashion design. Azadeh and I have a shared language and passion when it comes to making women feel more confident and comfortable. I am so thrilled that she will be styling these brave and inspiring women who radiate beauty both inside and out.
Dr. Zeidler: I would say that looking good in clothing and the ability to wear certain fashions is a key factor not only in a day to day quality of life but is also key to the expression of personal style for many patients. The ability to perform surgery to maintain and give back confidence with wearing fashion is fundamental to what I do. When it comes to fashion as with surgical planning and execution, an understanding of the body, how it moves and how it must function and how it captures each woman’s unique aesthetic – is key to great results. What I do with tissue and skin and the body parallels what Azadeh does with fabric.Q: Are tickets available?
A: Yes, BRA Day is set to take place at the Silicon Valley Capital Club on October 11th, 2018 from 6-8pm, BRA Day 2018. Registration to attend is $30 per person and participation in the BRA decorating contest is $60. To register for both click here. For more information please call or email Ariane Chapple at 408.402.6285 or email: email@example.com. All proceeds from the event will go to Cancer CAREpoint.