Under the Knife
The Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery and the Med Spa sets itself apart from plastic surgery clinics by offering reconstructive surgeries for those in treatment or recovering from cancer. 

From anti-aging procedures to hair removal to body sculpting, the Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery and the Med Spa would appear to be like any other plastic surgery clinic, but it isn’t. Situated within the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center in downtown Chicago, the Med Spa sets itself apart by also featuring treatments specially designed for those affected by cancer.

“[I see] everyone as an individual,” says the Med Spa’s Dr. Neil Fine, named one of Chicago’s top cancer doctors by Chicago magazine in 2017. “What is it that you need, and what is it that you have? […] I work with what you have to give you what you need.”

Fine performs surgery on patients with a variety of cancer types, including skin or cancer of the head and neck, but most of his patients are in treatment or recovering from breast cancer mastectomies, lumpectomies, or radiation therapy during treatment. He works closely with those who are unhappy with their appearance post-treatment to educate them on what can be done. “Women will have lumpectomy and radiation therapy treatment, and this will deform or change their breasts [and] they’ll think maybe there’s nothing that can be done about it,” Fine says. “Lots of people don’t know what all the options are [and] that’s why they come and see us.”

Once we start taking care of them, we finish taking care of them.

The Med Spa also offers treatments unfamiliar to the general public. Fine says that some breast reconstruction patients have enough fat around their abdomen to move this tissue to the chest, recreating a breast that looks and feels like the one that was just removed. And if a patient loses a nipple during mastectomy surgery, the Med Spa’s in-house tattoo artist can recreate what was lost. “It can look remarkable,” says Fine. “You wouldn’t be able to tell that that’s not actually a nipple.”

Fine is careful to note that, for many, cosmetic surgery can be cost-prohibitive, but when it comes to people recovering from cancer, there are options. “Northwestern does provide free or subsidized care to people who don’t have resources,” says Fine. “Once we start taking care of them, we finish taking care of them.”

Fine is resolute that those in recovery from breast cancer could benefit from visiting the Med Spa. “Every woman who has breast cancer pretty much is [referred to a] plastic surgeon, so that they can understand what their options are,” says Fine. “We don’t know how we can help you, until you come and talk to us.”

Join Dr. Fine in celebrating Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day on May 8.


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