Health Report: Breast cancer survivor designer inspires Doctor

Health Reports

Growing up in Poland, renowned Houston plastic surgeon Aldona Spiegel spent hours designing and sewing new clothes for her dolls.

Here is the extraordinary story of how that passion for design led to the invention of her patented dermal brassiere.

Blitz Phillips is a young, newly married nurse facing a bright future.

A drastic improvement from eight years ago when she discovered she carried the BRCA-one gene and at 26 underwent a double mastectomy.

“Over the course of your lifetime, your risk is about 95%,” said Blitz Phillips, breast cancer survivor.

As she said it wasn’t if she would get breast cancer, but when.

Blitz turned to doctor Aldona Spiegel who patented an internal reconstructive surgery procedure that includes an internal dermal brassiere.

“We have these beautiful young women who are now diagnosed with BRCA and need to have a preventative mastectomy,” said Aldona Spiegel, MD, plastic surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital.

“It affects your relationship. It affects how you look at yourself in the mirror. It affects everything mentally and physically,” said Phillips.

In high school, Doctor Spiegel designed her own prom dress with a fitted bodice.

She modified that to create a tissue graft with collagen that conformed to the body.

“So using this combination of collagen which acts like an internal brassiere that holds the implant, in a way that is above the muscle and isn’t deformed by the muscle, allows a direct implant reconstruction for women like Blitz,” said Dr. Spiegel.

Doctor Spiegel uses specifically designed tools so the implants don’t hurt post surgery.

“She’s avoiding putting the implant under the muscle,” said Phillips.

“It’s really a marriage of art and technique and creativity,” said Dr. Spiegel.

“I had the opportunity to make a choice before cancer made it for me,” said Phillips.

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