From a young age, Denise McLemore was inundated with images of the so-called “perfect” female figure. She saw images of full-breasted women in magazines and on television, and felt the ever-present societal pressures of having a particular type of body. After she had and breastfed her children, she was left with little breast tissue in a world that celebrated large breasts. Since it was commonplace in her social circles, she had augmentation surgery to enhance her breasts, but never felt that they were an authentic part of her.
Years later, after replacing her implants overseas, Denise discovered that the implants she had put in contained a rare, cancer-causing material. She decided that she was ready to have them removed through breast explant surgery. Upon learning about Dr. Potter’s practice through a coworker, who was a breast cancer survivor, Denise made an appointment to meet her.
Denise felt an instant connection with Dr. Potter. She loved the female-based, dynamic energy of the practice and appreciated the trustworthy, attentive atmosphere. Denise had been to multiple plastic surgeons before meeting with Dr. Potter, but didn’t feel like any of them listened to her. “They kept telling me I was not going to be happy. They were trying to get me to put another implant in.” Denise understood that her decision to not replace her implant was unconventional in the cosmetic surgery industry and she felt like she was met with resistance until meeting Dr. Potter. “She listened to me…and the ultimate choice for me was a healthy breast,” Denise said. She noted how Dr. Potter laid out all of her options in an organized way and gave her choices without pressure. Ultimately, Denise followed her gut instinct and decided to go through with explant surgery without an implant replacement. “The norm of beauty is not the norm I have chosen,” Denise said about her decision to embrace a smaller-chested physique.
After having a terrible experience with her previous implant replacement, Denise was very nervous about the surgery. Dr. Potter calmed her every step of the way, letting her know she was safe and in good hands. Prior to explant surgery, Denise was sent for a routine mammogram, but the results left room for questions. Denise was referred to a breast cancer specialist who discovered that, while she didn’t have cancer, she did have silicone in her lymph node, which indicated that her implant had ruptured.
The news that her implant ruptured was frightening for Denise, but ultimately Dr. Potter assured her that she didn’t need to worry. Denise felt ready and she wanted to get the implants out in a timely fashion because of the risk of the material. “I wanted to get it over with, “she said, “it was top priority to have the surgery and get them out of me.”
Throughout the process, Denise felt empowered by Dr. Potter and her staff. She said that “they listened to me and…answered all of my questions. They made sure every one of them was answered.” She noted that the team was extraordinary and did everything possible to make sure she felt comfortable about the process, even calling them a “super team”. Denise remarked how she “loved the anesthesiologist, the RN…and the person that checked [her] in.” Everyone at the practice pays attention to the wants and needs of the patient and works to guide them to make a decision that is right for them and their body. Denise said that Dr. Potter is someone she “trusts wholeheartedly.”
After the explant surgery was completed, Denise felt that it was important to be vocally vulnerable about her relationship to her body and how it related to her explant surgery. She wrote out her experience and shared it on Facebook. She was met with comments of support from many other women who could relate to the comparison game and societal pressure to look a particular way. She wanted to address this issue and to “be a sounding board for those who are at odds with [their] bodies, in whatever sense, whether [women] choose to enhance themselves or not.” Cosmetic surgery can be a great thing for those who want it, but that is a choice that each individual should make for themselves. No one should feel pressure to have any procedure strictly because they need to look a certain way to fit in.
Denise finally feels free in her body, and Dr. Potter helped her get there. Not only through performing the explant surgery, but her positive presence throughout the process empowered Denise to make a decision that was wholly hers—no one else’s.
For Denise, explant surgery was a way to guide her back to feeling at home in her body. For the 32 years that she had implants, she felt a false sense of security with them. She said that “As I lived with them, they [weren’t] really me.” As she grew older, she re-evaluated what was important to her, and living in her own sense of authenticity became more and more important. “They were separate from me. And now I am completely me. I love the fact that this body is mine and all it’s gone through…I appreciate it so much.”
Denise’s physical changes helped her get to a place of internal change as well, moving toward self-love and acceptance. She embraced listening to her gut and living a genuine life of authenticity in a body that feels like home. Dr. Potter helped Denise become wholly herself again—and that looks different for everyone.