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Special Report: Feeling Whole Again
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- When you think about someone getting breast implants, you might picture a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model.
You might not picture somebody who looks like your sister or your neighbor -- or somebody like Nancy Bantz.
But Bantz just had a full breast reconstruction three weeks ago.
"A woman's breasts are with us for a long time, and it's part of being feminine, we've got to admit it, it is," Bantz said.
Four months before that, thought, Bantz was preparing herself for a completely different kind of surgery.
"I went for my yearly routine mammogram the end of December," Bantz said. "And a biopsy was done and I had a diagnosis by January 9 of breast cancer in one breast."
To completely remove the cancer -- and avoid the chance of it coming back -- Bantz opted for a full, bilateral mastectomy. The surgeons emptied both of her breasts, but the cancer took more than just a physical toll.
"That diagnosis is what I think every woman fears," she said.
Bantz had never even considered getting her body back to what it had been before, but when her doctor put her in the hands of PCI plastic surgeon Dr. Kahlil Andrews, he put her at ease.
"Breast reconstruction is a very personal decision," Kahlil said.
Based on Bantz's age and the size of her breasts, Andrews thought she made a great candidate for implants -- but not just any kind.
"Patients who have mastectomies have just a thin layer of tissue, so any imperfections in an implant are going to show through," Kahlil said.
Kahlil suggested Gummy Bear implants for Bantz. They're new, approved by the FDA just two months ago. Made of a highly cohesive silicone gel, the implants don't leak, and if you cut them in half, they look like the inside of a gummy bear.
Andrews said one of the best thing about the gummy bear implant is that it helps patients maintain a more natural shape. A regular, round silicone implant will sit in the body and look something like a bean bag chair. But because most women have enough breast tissue to cover any rippling, they're fine. Breast cancer patients don't have any leftover breast tissue, so they need as much of a realistically shaped implant as possible.
"Having this shape certainly gives a patient a more natural look, the other thing that it does it that it helps maintain that upper pole," Andrews said.
That upper pole helps clothes lay more naturally over the implant, so when Andrews suggested the Natrelle 410, a type of gummy bear implant, Bantz said it was the one she wanted.
Still, Bantz said it wasn't an easy decision, but it was a family decision.
"I knew I just wanted to be okay and my husband wanted me to do whatever I needed to do and he just wanted me to be well," she said.
Piecing herself together again became part of that wellness, and so did beginning her retirement.
In a week, her reconstruction will be completely healed, and Bantz said, she's ready for her next journey.
"I feel pretty much like I'm back together again. Like I'm whole. You'll never be exactly the same as you were. And I knew that, but I am extremely happy with my results, so far," she said.
Bantz, a registered nurse, said the implants aren't for everybody, but patients who are interested should talk to their doctors about their options. Find out more about Dr. Andrews and PCI here.