YOUR HEALTH: Using your body to rebuild your bust

TAMPA, Florida – Patients who aren't candidates for traditional breast implants now have another option, if they're willing to say goodbye to some of their buttocks.

Stacey Nance manages a mega mall called the Tampa Premium Outlets.

"Everything from the roof all the way down to the ground is my responsibility."

But managing her health lately has also been a full time job.

"I've had such extreme surgeries and such procedures and trying to recover."

Here's why: Stacey tested positive for the BRCA One gene, so she had a double mastectomy, then breast reconstruction where her backside played a big part.

"I had never heard of it."

Luckily, Dr. Raj S. Ambay, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon at Florida Hospital, had.

He recommended a procedure called SGAP: superior gluteal artery perforator.

"You're using tissue that most people are happy to get rid of," said Dr. Ambay.

Dr. Ambay says he takes excess tissue from the buttocks.  Then a breast is made from that tissue.

"We only take the skin and fat and we dissect these tiny little perforators," he explained.

"They're almost like the size of a tip of a ballpoint pen and then we remove that tissue, make a breast on the back table at the same time the surgeon is removing the breast for the mastectomy."

Doctors then carefully reconnect all the blood vessels.

Stacey says it took two 12-hour surgeries.

"Everything is very natural," she said.   "You know I don't have a foreign object in my body."

Dr. Ambay says pain is minimal because he doesn't take out nerves or cut the muscle.

CANDIDATES:   The surgery is more technically difficult than other flap procedures and usually takes more time to do.  There are not many plastic surgeons who are trained to do it, so you may have to search for one if you`re interested in this procedure. An SGAP flap may be a good choice for thin women who don't have enough extra belly tissue.   If you've previously had liposuction on your buttocks, you may not be a good candidate for SGAP/hip flap reconstruction because you may not have enough extra tissue available.

The first 24 hours after procedure patients need to be checked making sure vessels connect.   Dr. Ambay says there's less chance of infection because it utilizes that patient's own tissue.

Stacey is happy with the result.

"Modern medicine at its finest absolutely."

Helping patients regain their good health and get back to work after surgery.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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