Thanks to pro bono surgery done by Andrew Jacono, MD, an attending reconstructive and facial plastic surgeon of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System, a Long Island mother who was a victim of domestic violence is getting a major boost towards building a new life.
Melissa, 42, a client of the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic, was referred to Dr. Jacono for surgery to repair medical and cosmetic damage after she suffered multiple battering of her face over the course of 17 years at the hands of her ex-partner.
Repeated trauma to the middle portion of Melissa's face caused problems with her nose and eyelids. Her nose was crushed into her face causing an external deformity that is referred to as a saddle nose deformity as it is shaped like a saddle and severly depressed almost flush with the face. These injuries made breathing difficult. In addition, the supporting tendons of her eyelids were weakened. This caused her lower eyelids to sag and pull away from her eyeballs, a condition called ectropion that occurs in people as they age, typically in their 70s. The eyes become dry and tear as a result.
Because Melissa's bone and cartilage were destroyed, she underwent a complicated reconstructive rhinoplasty. These lost cartilages and bone were obtained from other portions of her body. "Using a delicate procedure, I borrowed bone from her skull to help reform the bridge of her nose and resupport it. Ear cartilage was removed through a small hidden incision and replaced in the tip of her nose to help restore breathing," said Doctor Jacono.
"The surgery on her eyelids, involved tightening the supportive ligaments of the eyelid. This is performed through a small incision under the eyelashes. This alleviated sagging of the eyelids, tearing and drying of the eye."
Dr. Jacono and North Shore-LIJ waived fees for the major surgery, which was performed in early October at LIJ Medical Center. Dr. Jacono is a member of Face to Face, a national nonprofit organization that provides pro bono surgery to domestic violence survivors who have suffered injuries to the face, head or neck.
"By the time Melissa was referred to me for a consultation, she had already done a tremendous amount of work with the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence to rebuild her life," said Dr. Jacono. "Performing surgery is the end piece. There is a great sense of satisfaction in helping Melissa to restore her health and physical appearance and contribute to a positive future."
"Melissa is a wonderful example of how a woman who has lived in a abusive long-term relationship can turn her life around when the community comes together to help," said Sandra Oliva, executive director of the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "Every year the coalition gets more than 6,000 calls on our hotline, women bravely reaching out for support - often for the sake of their children as well as themselves. And, with help, many are able to break out of isolation and restrictions they live with, controls that are damaging beyond the physical abuse."
The Coalition offers comprehensive services ranging from safe housing to counseling, therapy for child witnesses, advocacy in the hospitals and courts, and help in setting up new living and employment situations.
"We work with many community resources to provide what's needed for clients," said Ms. Oliva. "In Melissa's case, we were absolutely thrilled with the connection to Dr. Jacono and North Shore-LIJ that is enabling her to restore her health and sense of self esteem. And, we are all inspired by her willingness to speak out and share her experience so other abused women can see what's possible."