Real Patient Stories
Fourth Time’s a Charm
Some women look forward to their breast augmentation surgery as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but for Darlene, it took 20 years, four separate surgeries, and finally finding the right surgeon to achieve the look she’d wanted all along.
The First and Second Surgeries
Darlene, a mother of three, was living in Alaska in 1988 when she decided to give herself breast implants as a present: “It was my birthday, and I said to myself ‘I would like to have some implants because the babies took everything out of me.'” After nursing her children “until they were biting her,” she barely filled out an A cup. Additionally, she had a career in advertising and found that working in a field dominated by young people placed added pressure on her to “look the part.” She followed through with that birthday present and had her augmentation surgery performed in Seattle, where she received the older-generation silicone implants that were eventually taken off the market in 1991.
At her checkup following surgery, her doctor noticed capsular contracture, a scarring and tightening around the implants, which causes them to feel hard. Her doctor recommended to re-do her augmentation then, and she agreed – only two months after her initial surgery. She moved soon after this second surgery and didn’t follow up with him again, and the capsular contraction continued to be a problem.
Surgery Number Three
In November 2006, Darlene went to a plastic surgeon in Southern California who recommended she have her implants replaced, due to the fact that she’d had the silicone implants for almost 20 years and the capsular contraction still caused her breasts to feel hard. While she was in surgery, her doctor discovered that her implants had actually ruptured. He removed them and inserted 600cc versions of the new cohesive-gel silicone implants that had just been approved by the FDA at the time. The surgery went well, but the implants turned out to be far too big for her frame and they encapsulated once again. Darlene says, “It was just too much. It wasn’t the kind of image I wanted. I gave away all of my strapless dresses because I felt like I looked vulgar in them.”
Tired of breasts that were “puffy and up too high,” Darlene, now in her 60’s, scheduled a consultation with Dr. Ambe in November of 2007. She says that during this first meeting, “He took a lot of notes and didn’t rush me. He wanted to know my whole history; he listened and asked a lot of questions.” During this process, Dr. Ambe learned that Darlene had an autoimmune disorder and, therefore, recommended replacing her silicone implants with saline. Additionally, he felt that her breasts were far too big for her size and recommended smaller, saline implants. “He looked at my frame and he could tell exactly where I should be. I’m sure some women want to look like Anna Nicole, but most of us want to look pretty natural.”
Darlene didn’t consult with any other doctors after that. “When I met Dr. Ambe, I was convinced he was the right one. He gave me the insight no other doctor had given.” Namely, that there’s evidence suggesting a correlation between silicone implants and auto immune disorders, and she’s more prone to capsular contraction because of her autoimmune disorder. “He had an air of confidence about him that projected to me, so I believed him.”
There’s little to say about Darlene’s actual breast revision surgery with Dr. Ambe, because it went off without a hitch. She remembers, “It wasn’t that difficult. I was a little sore, but it wasn’t that difficult at all.” She was wide awake when she went home and only required help from a caregiver for the first 24 hours. Dr. Ambe’s staff invited her to call the practice anytime, day or night, if she had concerns, but she didn’t need to take them up on their offer. In fact, she was out walking her dog on her second day home.
Following surgery, Darlene met with Dr. Ambe twice a week initially and he monitored her very closely for six weeks. “He gave me extra attention because he knew I’d had problems in the past. He took an interest in me as an individual, not just as a paying customer.”
Happily Ever After
And how does Darlene feel about her size 36C breasts now? “They’re exactly what I expected – I’m very fortunate. It took four times, but I finally got it right because I went to the right doctor.”
If Darlene sounds like a fan of the practice, she is. “If I ever had to have any other kind of [plastic] surgery, I’d go to him in a heartbeat without even thinking about it. Whatever it may be. I’ve already recommended him to several of my friends.”
And Dr. Ambe appears to be a fan of Darlene as well. He was so impressed by her that he recommended she fly to New York for a special Valentine’s Day taping of the Rachel Ray show, featuring women who’d had plastic surgery. Rachel asked her to stand up and “Show ’em what you’ve got, sister.” Later, when Rachel asked “Are you happy now?” Darlene replied simply, “Yes, I’m very happy.”
That happiness continues for Darlene. She proclaims, “If it wasn’t for Dr. Ambe, my breasts wouldn’t look this great today. When the doctor walks in a room and he has that air about him, you have a pretty good gut feeling. I just knew when I met him that it was going to be OK this time.”