Suzanne Somers Discusses her Revolutionary Breast Reconstruction with Iscador
Suzanne Somers tells Dr. Oz during his show how she used Iscador and Biodentical Hormone as an alternative treatment to breast cancer and a way to achieve a remarkable breast reconstruction.
In a candid interview on the Dr. Oz show, actress and fitness personality Suzanne Somers discusses her revolutionary breast reconstruction after losing her right breast to cancer. Dissatisfied with current cancer treatments and traditional classic breast reconstruction therapies, Suzanne Somers takes her health in own hands and along the way finds a new surgical technique that wound up giving her a natural appearing and feeling breast to replace the one she had lost.
Just a few months after her breast reconstruction surgery, Suzanne Somers takes the stage on the Dr. Oz show and tells her story by beginning with how that at age 50, after having just had a mammogram that tested negative for breast cancer, her physician suggested trying out a new sonogram machine that he had on hand. The sonogram picked up on a 2.4 centimeter tumor against her chest wall that the mammogram had missed.
“Like a lot of women who’ve had breast cancer, you’ve had a lumpectomy, says Dr. Oz.
Suzanne tells us that before her lumpectomy she had decided to fight the cancer in her own way. “It was like going to war and I was going to do it my way,” she states. She began her treatment by refusing chemotherapy and refusing to stop taking her supplemental hormone therapy, believing that keeping her hormones balanced was important to her health and preventing further cancer development.
“Now if you say ’I’m just going to do a lumpectomy, I thought it’d take like a quarter’s worth out. But when they took the bandages off, there was like, two-thirds of my breast gone,” says Suzanne. “Now throughout my career, I’ve been kind of known as a sex symbol…how ironic here I am, sex symbol, and I have one and a third breasts. I think that over the years, I’ve been able to camouflage it pretty well. I’ve worn prosthetics so I could push the side up, and for the past eleven years I haven’t had a breast there,” says Suzanne.
Dr. Oz points out that aside from the lumpectomy, that she had also undergone radiation treatment and asks Suzanne what it was like for her.
“I could write a book about what they don’t tell you about radiation,” says Suzanne. “I was told that for six weeks, everyday it would be a walk in the park. For me it was not a walk in the park. I vomited every day throughout the day. I laid in the fetal position, I was sick, sick all the time,” she admits. “And so I had one-third of a breast, but then every month, every year it just got flatter and flatter. And this year it was just gone.”
When Dr. Oz asks her about her decision to go against her doctor’s wishes by refusing chemotherapy, Suzanne tells him that from what she had researched, that chemotherapy did not appear to offer any benefit toward saving what she had left of her body. “It’s my body, my life and I wanted to live, and I had felt that I had done enough research…that I was informed, and looking back it was the best thing I ever did. Look at me now—11 years later and I am so healthy. I’ve had this incredible quality of life all these years.”
Suzanne attributes her healing to taking alternative medicines and living healthier. She admits to injecting herself for eight years with Iscador - an extract of mistletoe that she used as a preventive against further cancer development. She also maintained her use of bio-identical hormones and turned to healthy eating by growing her own vegetables.
Moving onto discussing her breast reconstruction therapy using her own stem cells and body tissue, Dr. Oz asks Suzanne why did she not go for the classic typical implant reconstruction therapies.
“Compared to what I have now, I cannot imagine any woman wanting to choose implants over it…Gosh! It’s so nice to look down and see two again,” she says laughing.
Suzanne explains that surgeons did her breast reconstruction by taking fat from her stomach and spinning it in a centrifuge, “…whipping it up until it is like a mousse,” she says describing how the spinning separates her tissues into layers with the top layer being fat cells, the middle layer being blood and the bottom layer being stem cells. The stem cells were then cleaned and the healthiest appearing were separated from the rest and then reintroduced into the fat. The fat/stem cell mix is then injected into the breast under the skin “…until it poofs up on the other side. So incredible!” said Suzanne with enthusiasm.
“It’s exactly as you describe it,” agreed Dr. Oz as he tells the audience that the stem cells with the fat injected into the breast helps form a scaffold of stem cells to keep the fat cells healthy. And, that these stem cells cause formation of new blood vessels to nourish the breast and help it achieve symmetry with the other breast. He then shows actual footage of Suzanne’s breast being syringed with the stem/fat cell mix demonstrating how the previously flat breast fills and forms into a normal appearing breast.
“It was quite emotional,” says Suzanne, “to look down there and suddenly see them there. And I thought, ‘What a great advancement for women.’” She then talks about how that she discovered this surgery through a surgeon in Japan who has performed hundreds of these surgeries on Japanese women.
Speaking to Joel Aronowitz, M.D. a plastic surgeon and founder of University Stem Cell Center, Dr. Oz asked him why does he believe that the breast reconstruction surgery Suzanne had is a better option for women in comparison to traditional breast reconstruction therapies.
“Clearly no operation is for everybody,” says Dr. Aronowitz, “but this is a new alternative that is going to be available to a lot of women because you don’t have to have scars elsewhere on your body.” He also adds that you do not have the complications that can come from having an implant.
He tells us that this type of breast reconstruction surgery is still in the clinical trial stages in the U.S. and that women typically have to wait 5 years after their cancer treatment to have the surgery—but does expect that to eventually change to being done immediately after cancer treatment.
“It’s important to know that to get a nice result like Suzanne has, you have to preserve the skin envelope of the breast so that there is something to fill up, because we are not replacing the skin,” says Dr. Aronowitz.
Dr. Oz points out to the viewers that mastectomies often involve removing both the nipple and the breast skin. But to have the kind of surgery Suzanne had, you must have both left intact.
“And it’s important for women when they are going to have a mastectomy to say ‘I want you to preserve the skin and the nipple at all costs unless there is risk of cancer,’” adds Suzanne.
Complications of the surgery are limited to the same complications that come with liposuction. In addition, small cysts of fat cells that do not survive can form into small calcifications that may be confused later with cancer during a mammogram or manual breast exam.
Dr. Peter Rubin, Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center praises the positive results of using stem cells in reconstructive surgery. However, he also points out that since the stem cells release chemicals that cause the development of new blood vessels, that it could also causes the growth of a new cancer from a few cancer cells that may remain after cancer treatment. And, that this raises important questions.
“When is the optimal timing after breast cancer surgery to perform this procedure? And another question, of course, is how will this procedure impact cancer screening?” poses Dr. Rubin.
Dr. Aronowitz answers that the more breast tissue that is removed, that the more likely all of the cancerous cells are removed. Furthermore, that there is no indication that injecting fat and stem cells will cause the development of cancer any more than exercising will, which also increases blood flow and stimulates blood vessel growth.
Dr. Rubin states that in spite of the advantage of this type of breast reconstruction surgery, we have to remember that it is still in its experimental stages and that we need more data to make informed decisions. That said, however, he believes that it shows great promise and that this type of stem cell therapy is currently being tested for use on healing many types of injuries in war veterans.
Suzanne points out that she wants people to know that she took the initiative in taking charge of her health and that she made sure that what she did was legal and was done with FDA approved clinical trials, and that women should be aware of unsafe, illegal services that perform fat injections without authorization.
Dr. Aronowitz says that for women who want to consider having this kind of breast reconstruction done that there are several centers that do this type of surgery and that a woman can contact the Breast Preservation Foundation for recommendations.