Medical Research: Would you tell us a little about yourself and your interests in plastic surgery?
Dr. Choi: I wanted to be a surgeon first, then I fell in love with plastic surgery after seeing a cleft lip repair as a medical student. It was amazing to watch the ingenuity of the design and the skills needed to repair a baby’s face. I felt that it was the highest gift a doctor can bestow, so that a child can go forward with life in confidence and all the promise that life holds. After finishing plastic surgery training, I developed expertise in breast reconstruction over the years. I feel breast reconstruction combines the science and art of surgery.
Medical Research: What are some of the reconstruction challenges women face after mastectomy?
Dr. Choi: Obtaining symmetry is something we strive for and it is sometimes difficult to achieve in unilateral mastectomy reconstruction. I think one of the less discussed topics is sexuality. My aim is to make women feel confident and sexy. After mastectomy and reconstruction, the affected breast does feel numb and it take time for women to feel the reconstructed breast belongs to them. My job is to make the breasts feel as natural as possible and to make them look good, sometimes better than before.
Medical Research: Can you explain nipple reconstruction and how this may benefit patients following breast procedures?
Dr. Choi: The reconstructed nipple can complete the look of the breast and give women a sense of closure with the process. I have had patients cry after seeing the nipple for the first time. Although the reconstructed nipples do not have the special sensation, most women are very happy to have them made. They feel more complete with them. At NYU, we have been using nipple sparing mastectomy and reconstruction techniques for many years. When we can preserve the entire breast envelope including the nipple, the reconstructed breast can look amazing.
Medical Research: What are some of the newer imaging techniques that are used to help plan and explain reconstructive surgery?
Dr. Choi: We are using 3 dimensional photography to show what they look like preoperatively and to plan for the surgery. We can also use the scans to assess the result. We are also developing computer animated models to explain the procedures.
Mihye Choi, M.D., F.A.C.S. (2015). NYU Plastic Surgeon Discusses Science and Art of Breast Reconstruction Surgery