Joburg plastic surgeon gives hope to women who can't afford breast reductions

By Saskia Hill
02 August 2016

A large cleavage is often associated with attractiveness – but for many women it can be agony. And Dr Marisse Venter wants to help.

The plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Johannesburg wants to make the lives of women like this easier.

Her incredible undertaking came about in 2015, when Marisse and her team performed breast reductions on three handicapped disadvantaged girls from the Casa do Sol School. The school aims to make it easier for learners to become part of society.

Dr Marisse Venter and Dr Smith. PHOTO: Supplied Dr Marisse Venter and Dr Smith. PHOTO: Supplied

It was with this thought in mind that deputy headmistress, Jenny Drew, contacted Marisse after reading that she and her team perform free plastic surgery on certain patients who need help.

Marisse practises in the Breast Care Centre at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, where she and her team operated on the three girls for free in December last year.

Dr Venter, Gordan & Nandi PHOTO: Supplied Dr Venter, Gordan & Nandi PHOTO: Supplied

“Breast reductions are done to change the size, weight, firmness and shape of breasts,” Dr Venter says. Breasts that are too big can be physically detrimental and also affect your mental health.

She says breast operations aren’t supposed to be luxuries and in the cases of the three girls they were necessary. Now, with their handicaps, they can better carry out daily tasks and care for themselves.

The girls, who were lagging behind as far as physical activities were concerned, couldn’t take part in school activities, Dr Venter says.

After consultations and intensive evaluations and research the girls underwent the operations. “A breast reduction gives you more freedom in your movements.”

“Before the operations they were embarrassed when they had to dress in front of the other girls at their school.

“Their breasts no longer have a negative influence on their psychological wellbeing; they’ve improved their self-confidence and social interaction.”

Marisse has a big heart, says colleague Storm Bentley. Although she specialises in reconstructive surgery on cancer patients she does more than expected and hopes to make a difference in more people’s lives.

Dr Venter with Gordan. PHOTO: Supplied Dr Venter with Gordan. PHOTO: Supplied

Candidates and patients can arrange a consultation only if they don’t have medical aid. When Dr Venter and her team evaluate a candidate an application form is filled in and submitted to the board at Netcare.

The board decides whether the operation can be done or not.

Criteria:

Male and female patients without medical aid are eligible for an operation if the doctors confirm that they can improve their condition. The conditions for an operation:

- The patient mustn’t be a member of a medical aid fund.

- Patients with over-large, asymmetrical or deformed breasts.

- Male patients with breast tissue.

- Patients with oversized breasts, a big belly, back and neck bumps or who have lost fat in the face due to HIV treatment.

- Patients with facial abnormalities such as lesions and birthmarks that are surgically removable.

- Patients with ear or nose abnormalities that can be corrected with surgery.

Dr Venter does these operations to raise awareness in communities. She and her team hope to expand the non-profit service.

The team are offering their medical services free and are seeking candidates who meet the criteria.

  • If you know someone who can’t afford reconstructive surgery contact Dr Venter’s assistant, Storm Bentley, at stormbentley3@gmail.com for more information.

Read more:

'I got a new life – I've never regretted it': Woman after breast reduction surgery

Ariel Winter: ‘My large breasts were affecting me psychologically’

Bright foods ‘can cut breast cancer risk’

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