Surgery – Implant Exchange

My exchange surgery (where the breast tissue expanders are replaced with permanent silicone implants) was scheduled. I was anxious for the day to arrive and tried to keep myself very busy as the date approached.

The night before surgery, I organized the medications for at-home care, printed the spreadsheets for tracking my medications and JP Drain readings, put my Emend prescription on top of my wallet so I would not forget it on the way to the hospital and finally, settled in for my last night in my Sleep Number bed for a while. After surgery, I would be sleeping somewhat upright in a Lazy-Boy Recliner until my JP Drains were out, I wanted to consciously appreciate the comfort of my bed, for I would miss it.

The day of surgery, I arose tired, I did not sleep well, not from worry, but from the excitement to finally have the uncomfortable expanders removed and have soft, pliable silicone implants in place. I also looked forward to seeing the roundness of my new, reconstructed breasts. Being tired did not bother me since I knew I would be sleeping most of the day and would definitely catch up on my sleep in the following days.

I took my Emend pill as we left the house at 10 a.m. my instructions were to take the pill with one tiny sip of water two hours prior to surgery, which was scheduled for 12:00, noon. While checking in at the surgery center, I paid my co-pay which was something like $1,600.00 and it seemed only a few minutes passed when they called my name. Great! There might be no delay!

After changing into the fashionable surgical gown, I was told that I could keep my underpants on. YIPEE!! No catheter! Catheters are only used for surgeries spanning three plus hours and my surgery time would be one to one and a half hours.

A second nurse approached with a little pill cup and bottle-cap-sized drink of water to wash the pills down. The nurse told me what the pills were, but I have now forgotten what they were. Before long, the nurse was ready to find my vein to start the I.V. I wondered whether or not I should tell her how uncooperative my veins are. I did not have to tell her, she figured that out on her own, but, to her credit, she was able to accomplish the I.V. with only one needle prick!

The next thing I knew, I was kissing my husband good-bye as I was wheeled off to the surgery room where the drip began which would curtain my consciousness, sending it to a place of oblivion.

The surgery spanned the expected one and a half hours and all went well.

At home, I vegged out the rest of the day – took my percocet, antibiotics, and recorded my JP Drain outputs. This surgery was NOTHING compared to the first surgery, the bilateral mastectomy!! This was easy in comparison! I truly had no pain other than the discomfort that the JP Drains cause, which was somewhat more uncomfortable this time around. By day 3, I felt no need to take percocet anymore.

Meanwhile, I rested while caring for my wounds as instructed. My incisions were ‘glued’ together, I was only to hand wash them with Dial, antibacterial soap and pat dry – there was no need to apply peroxide or antibiotic ointment. Because I am frightened of infections, I still followed the peroxide and antibiotic ointment steps as in my first surgery.


Antibiotic Disc JP Drain
© Medscape

The drains were also supposed to be less worrisome and I was not supposed to do anything with them either. There was supposed to be an antibiotic disc attached to the outer ports of the drains and a big plastic film was adhered to that area of my body for protection. That did not turn out well at all. By the morning after surgery, my left drain had leaked into and out from the protective plastic film. I decided to rip all the “protection” off and just deal with the drains as I had after the mastectomy, cleaning three times daily, using Dial, peroxide, antibiotic ointment and clean bandaging.

JPDrainsApr2014My JP Drain readings were outstanding in comparison to how long it took for them to reach a reading where they could be removed after the bilateral mastectomy and by day 8, this time around, those drains were removed!

I did run into some trouble though. I was feeling so good that I started doing household chores until I felt pain in my right implant area. I was NOT to be lifting or reaching above my head, both instructions I had ignored because I felt fine. I have backed off from my activities after having to sit for two days with ice packs. I have learned it is not worth risking problems through doing too much physical activities.


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