|Fascial Wasting Hero in San Francisco
Mar 29, 2001
This is an update on my facial wasting condition which I first wrote to you about last spring. At that time I was heartbroken with the disfiguring fascian treatment that I had received from a Dr in San Francisco. Briefly, the situation involved acknowledgement of the disfigurement by the Dr as well as an admission that he had made mistakes during the procedure (on both sides of my face). My primary care physician was outraged and believed that I had been used in an experiment to see if this temporary fix for lipodystrophy would last longer if injected into the upper layer of the facial skin. As a person with AIDS living on disability income, I was shocked at the way I was treated, taken advantage of, and dismissed by a physician in the San Francisco medical community.
But my story has a VERY happy ending.....
Several months later I approached another surgeon with the same facial wasting problem. I was extremely apprehensive to pursue this (after my nightmarish experience with the other doctor) but I felt that it was something that I had to do for myself. I met with Dr. Michael Echavez in San Francisco and I immediately felt more at ease. He genuinely appeared to be interested in helping people with AIDS (and this also reflected in the financial cost of his consultation visit which was half of what any other San Francisco physician was charging). Dr. Echavez was very generous with his time (I never felt rushed even though I arrived with a clipboard of questions and asked to see photographs of his surgeries). Dr. Echavez explained the pros and cons of the procedures he performed that he felt would alleviate my facial wasting and I elected to pursue the submalar implants for their natural appearance and permanency as well as the very reasonable cost quoted by Dr. Echavez (which was 1,500.00 less than I had expected it to be from researching the cost of this procedure over the past 2 years). The submalar implants would ultimately cost twice as much as collagen treatments - but - knowing that the fullness of the collagen would only last a short while (before I would need to have further injections) led me to realize that it would, ultimately, cost less to have the implants inserted once than have injections every year. I scheduled the procedure and was surprised and delighted that Dr. Echavez was able to arrange a payment plan for me as well.
Well, it has been almost 3 months since my surgery and I couldn't possibly be happier. Dr. Echavez is a BRILLIANT surgeon - I have my face completely restored and, strange as it may sound, my life back! I am happy and optimistic about my future again....I no longer spend most of my day in sadness with my appearance. It's astonishing how facial wasting can affect so many aspects of one's life in such negative ways. I am free of what has been years of sadness, frustration and embarrassment. I think of Dr. Echavez as an angel on earth. Having this surgery was one of the best things that I have ever done for myself!
Response from Dr. Dieterich
I am delighted to hear about the happy ending. There does appear to be hope for some with surgery for this wasting. As a medical person, I am frustrated with the fact that there does not appear to be a non surgical treatment for this, but I am happy for you and your good outcome. DTD
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