Yo mammae

April 8, 2008 § 5 Comments

I was filming a nipple reconstruction. The last in a series of operations to reconstruct the right breast of a woman in her sixties. She’d had a mastectomy for breast cancer. This final operation would be the end of a long and winding treatment.

I had only filmed with this plastic surgeon (PS) once before. Then he’d complained about the senior surgeon’s music and demanded to play Metallica the next time they’d operate together. The nipple reconstruction was being done at the outpatient department. As I entered the small OR, PS was rummaging a drawer full of pink caps. “I have to find a green cap,” he said. “I can’t possibly appear on camera with a pink one!”

The patient was getting a “star flap” reconstruction. A skin flap with three pointed arms is cut on the designated place on the breast (picture credit). The top arm becomes the top of the nipple, and the side arms form the base (picture credit). After removing the sutures, the nipple is left alone to heal for about three months, before the finishing touch is added; the areola complex is mimicked with a tattoo.

Nipple placement had been decided and the flap cut out. As the surgeon was suturing we all started chatting. With a cameraman present there’s usually some talk about hospital dramas, Grey’s Anatomy, E.R. etc. This was no exception. After comparing this not-so-glamorous reality to that of television, I said to the others: “I promise you I’m not gonna put any dramatic music on this video”. “Oh, but PS has a very good voice,” the nurse offered. “Maybe he could sing on the sound track?” And the surgeon said: “Yeah! I could sing My Boobs are OK!”

For a brief second; total silence.

Then the patient let out a burst of laughter, and we all started to breathe again.

“My Boobs are OK” was Norwegian “glamour model” Lene Alexandra’s shot at pop stardom in 2007. Just like the sixty-year-old cancer patient, she’s got implants.

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