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Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Expanding reconstructive options for breast-cancer patients

Lenora Cater

Lenora Cater speaks to Fox Denver 31 News about her journey.

Women who have undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer have more options today than ever before to replace their breast tissue.

Lenora Cater of Colorado Springs had a mastectomy 11 years ago, followed by radiation and chemotherapy to eradicate any remaining cancer cells and to decrease her risk of recurrence. At the time, she was told that breast reconstruction wasn’t an option because of her radiated skin, so she got an external prosthetic.

Recently, during an evaluation for lymphedema, she learned that she could be a candidate for breast reconstruction. The DIEP-flap procedure, which uses the patient’s own tissue from the abdomen to reconstruct the breast, could be used to replace the radiated tissue and restore her breasts. Compared to previously available surgeries, this procedure spares muscle and maintains function. It is considered the procedure of choice for patients who have undergone radiation after mastectomy.

Watch the video on Fox Denver 31 News for more of Lenora's story and comments from her reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Tae Chong.

(October 2017)

Hand surgery, then Mount Everest

Kim Hess with Dr. Mickey Gordon

Kim Hess recently got the chance to thank Dr. Gordon for performing the surgery that enabled her to return to climbing and tackle Mount Everest. You can watch the video on ABC-7, the Denver Channel.

Sometimes a patient’s goals for hand surgery are as simple as being able to perform everyday tasks that the rest of us take for granted, such as tying shoes or driving a car. Other times, the goals are more ambitious.

Kim Hess, a 28-year-old woman from Steamboat Springs, came to Dr. Gordon in 2013 with a badly broken hand. When she told him what she hoped to achieve after surgery, he realized he had met a patient who gave the phrase “high goals” new meaning.

Hess’s aspiration was to climb the highest mountain peak on each of the world’s seven continents. Impressively, she had already conquered four of the mountains on that list. However, on her way down from the summit of the fourth, Mount Denali in Alaska, she had an accident that resulted in three broken bones in her hand and arm.

Given the severity of Hess’s injuries, Dr. Gordon warned her that it could be a long road back to resuming normal two-handed activities, never mind climbing mountains again. But Hess was determined to reach her lifetime goal. Next on her list: Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, more than twice as high as the tallest mountain in her native Colorado.

(March 2017)

More stories

For more news stories, visit the Department of Surgery's News Archive. To see stories exclusively from the Plastic and Reconstructive Division, follow this link.