Kim’s Revision Surgery After Intentional Flat Denial

NPOAS Founder Kim Bowles prepares for revision surgery to remove the “pockets for implants” left behind against her consent by Cleveland Clinic plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Steven Bernard in 2017. (January 14, 2020)
I finally decided to get revision surgery, after almost three years living with “a little extra in case you change your mind.”

I shouldn’t be here, being prepped for revision surgery. I had a plastic surgeon at my mastectomy two years ago solely to do a flat closure. I had pictures, a witness, “smooth flat result” was in my medical record. My choice was to be done in one surgery. It was my choice. And it was stolen from me.

“I’ll leave a little extra in case you change your mind” is an attitude that forces women already traumatized by breast cancer treatment into yet another risky, costly, and anxiety provoking surgery in order to get a surgical result they can live with.

It’s wrong.

I shouldn’t be here.

It’s way past time to #putflatonthemenu, folks.

Surgery on irradiated tissue is always riskier than for healthy tissue, and in Kim’s case the site became severely infected and she was hospitalized for several days (picture is ten days post-op).
Operating on irradiated tissue could have been avoided if my closure surgeon had honored our agreement.

Irradiated skin means surgery is riskier. A big part of my decision to go flat at my initial mastectomy, was to avoid incurring those risks. Unfortunately for me, my closure surgeon at Cleveland Clinic decided to “leave a little extra in case you change your mind [about implants]” willingly and knowingly against my consent.

It took me almost three years to finally get revision surgery to fix what he did to me. I’m at the hospital right now with a severe post-op infection, facing possible inpatient admission for IV antibiotics, when I should be home caring for my children.

This is what flat denial looks like, folks. Dragging women through AVOIDABLE psychological, physical, and financial trauma.

And for what?

I will never stop fighting to put an end to this cruel and abusive practice.

Surgeons, protect your patients.


Kim leading a Board meeting during her post-revision hospitalization. (January 28, 2020)

Published by Not Putting on a Shirt

Founder of Not Putting on a Shirt, a mastectomy patients' rights organization that advocates for optimal surgical outcomes for patients going flat.

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