Drs. Ravi Tandon & John Colfry: Reconstructing Lives and Hope
October has arrived, and with the cooler weather and changing seasons, it is also one of the most purpose-driven times of the year, mainly because it is breast cancer awareness month. It is truly inspiring to see how many people come together with fundraisers and charity events, all for one cause. The color pink can be seen everywhere during October. Breast cancer awareness unites all walks of life. It is so uplifting to see mass amounts of individuals focusing on one cause together, despite any differences. Hope is the goal, and every bit helps tremendously.
Dr. Ravi Tandon and Dr.John Colfry, work together to help breast cancer patients not only win the battle but to do so through cutting edge treatment and reconstruction that allows patients to have the best possible outcomes.
Dr. John Colfry is a breast surgical oncologist at Touro. “I am most proud of the radioactive seed breast surgery that I brought to Touro from my training experience at MD Anderson. I use tiny radioactive seeds to precisely localize and remove breast cancer. The results are more precise, less tissue disturbed, better cosmetic results, and require less second operations to clear tumor. These seeds can also be placed in lymph nodes to target diseased lymph nodes and only remove a few rather than unnecessarily remove non-diseased lymph nodes. This means less surgery for patients and lower rates of lymphedema (arm swelling) after lymph node surgery,” explains Dr. Colfry.
When at all possible, Dr. Colfry performs nipple sparing mastectomies on patients who do not have disease noted near the nipple. This means all of the breast tissue is removed but the patient keeps her skin and nipple to allow for reconstructive surgery. “The cosmetic results with this approach are fantastic,” says Dr. Colfry.
Dr. Ravi Tandon contributes greatly to the hope and recovery of so many local women who face the daunting challenges of breast cancer and the surgical options that come with it. Although Dr. Tandon performs cosmetic surgery of the breast, face and body, his passion is breast reconstruction. His patients include women who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer as well as women who had a mastectomy years ago, when the advanced breast reconstructive surgical options of today were not available.
Dr. Tandon and Dr. Colfry utilize a multidisciplinary approach in the treatment and recovery of breast cancer patients. As patients undergo the process of oncology, radiation and surgery, they work together to help restore as much regularity to the patients’ lives as possible. Dr. Tandon states, “We bring family-friendly, personalized care to each patient”. The concept of family and community is a crucial part of patient treatment and recovery. It helps to make our team more effective by providing the right warmth and support to patients during the challenges they face during their experience. “What sets us apart is our team,” states Dr. Tandon. “The united effort that we put forth is what makes all the difference in the positive results that patients receive under our care. The ultimate focus is on patient-centric care to optimize the individual’s experience.”
Dr. Tandon elaborates on the reasons as to why many patients are now exploring their options with breast reconstruction, even years after a mastectomy. He states, “Historically, in the United States, less than half the patients would get breast reconstruction because they were not aware of the options.” Dr. Tandon explains that one of the main focuses of consultations with his patients is directed towards educating them of their reconstructive options. States, including Louisiana, have even passed legislation to ensure that every woman who undergoes a mastectomy is advised of their reconstructive options and has insurance coverage of these surgeries.
There are two main paths that patients have when choosing breast reconstructive surgery: autologous (using the body’s own tissue to replace breast tissue) or implant (silicone/saline based). “We individualize the reconstruction plan for each patient,” states Dr. Tandon. There are advantages to both methods depending upon each patient’s needs and circumstances. With an autologous approach, a patient’s lower abdomen or thigh tissue is used to replace breast tissue that is removed during the surgery. Essentially the patient gets somewhat of a “tummy tuck” to replace the removed breast tissue. Patients get results that look and feel very natural because we are replacing fatty tissue with fatty tissue, adhering to the plastic surgery principle of replacing “like” with “like”.
When patients receive breast implants as part of their reconstruction process, there is less downtime in the beginning compared to using autologous tissue. Modern advancements in the quality of breast implants has made the option of using artificial materials much more viable than in years past. The breast implant option has become a very safe choice, with many advantages, when applicable to a specific patient’s needs.
One of the modern techniques Dr. Tandon has adopted to help improve the overall patient outcomes is a pre-pectoral implant placement. In this approach, the implant inserted above the muscle instead of traditionally below the muscle. By using this technique, there is less pain for the patient as well as animation deformity (displacement of the implant with muscle flexion). Patients are much more satisfied, due to the quicker recovery time and noticeably less animation problems.
Being one of the few microsurgical fellowship trained surgeons in New Orleans, Dr. Tandon has embraced his journey in the medical field as a testament to his lifelong dedication to his practice. Following medical school at Vanderbilt University and general surgery training at Tulane University, Dr. Tandon did his plastic surgery fellowship training at Albert Einstein in New York City. Dr. Tandon then went on to pursue a microsurgical fellowship at New York University, where he focused primarily on reconstruction of oncological defects, under the wing of his mentor, renowned surgeon and “guru” of breast reconstruction, Dr. Bob Allen.
“The bar for breast cancer care and reconstruction is higher in New Orleans than most of the country because of the immense talent in the area. Some of the advanced reconstructive techniques offered here are not available all over the country, only in certain meccas of healthcare and New Orleans is one of them,” says Dr. Tandon.
Dr. Tandon also performs an array of cosmetic procedures, including facelift, brow/eyelid surgery, liposuction, tummy tuck, mommy make overs and Brazilian butt lift. He also performs non-surgical procedures such as Botox and injectable fillers. His work in breast reconstruction is one of his specialties, and his passion for helping women going through the experience of breast cancer treatment is what drives him to continue evolving in his medical practice.
Dr. Tandon practices with his two partners Dr. David Jansen and Dr. John Guste. They perform the advanced reconstructive surgeries with a team approach that leads to better outcomes and personalized patient care.
Dr. Tandon is also instrumental in the training of future plastic surgeons. He is clinical faculty at Tulane University and Louisiana State University. His purpose is to not only help and treat as many patients as possible so that they may resume a normal life during and after breast cancer treatment, but also to help build a fortified front of experienced and skilled doctors in the battle against breast cancer.
The facts on breast cancer are truly astounding. A woman is diagnosed with the disease every two minutes, on average. Most people personally know at least one woman who has either had or currently has breast cancer, which makes sense considering that one in eight women is diagnosed with it in their lifetime. On a positive note, there are over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors who are alive in the United States today. Medical professionals such as Dr. Tandon and Dr. Colfry are leading the charge in helping patients to adapt and overcome all of the challenges that they face in resuming a sense of normalcy, as they fight to regain a positive body image during their journey of breast cancer treatment. It is through the passion that surgeons such as Dr. Tandon and Dr. Colfry possess that patients can find the hope that they need to live to fight another day.