One Month Post-exchange Surgery

Thursday, May 1, 2014 was my 4-week anniversary for having the expanders replaced with permanent implants. I have been taking photos on each following week’s anniversary, including yesterday, the 4-week milestone. I am still not pleased with the outcome, but, rather than dwell on the physical appearance of my chest, I am turning my focus onto my mind and its needed healing from expectations and the sober reality of how these “breasts” truly are deformed.

SueImplants1

© Swoosieque
1st photo, one-week post-op exchange surgery; angle and lighting create a better looking result.

I know that the last time I wrote about this subject, I was delusional due to a photograph which I took and posted, post-exchange surgery. The angle of the camera and dimmed lighting truly gave an illusion of acceptable post-reconstruction breasts. However, my eyes were not, in fact, deceived when I had cried and complained about how lumpy and ugly this reconstruction turned out, rather, they were deceived by that photograph. Heck, I even thought that I might reconsider going ahead with nipple reconstruction surgery.

My one-month appointment with my plastic surgeon was this morning. In anticipation, I had very much trouble falling asleep last night so I opted for a Librax, which I take for my spastic colon – it helped me to fall and stay asleep all night and when I awakened, all of my concerns were in order and I was coherent.

This was the first time throughout this entire breast cancer episode of my life that my husband did not accompany me into the doctor’s examination room. He asked me if I wanted or needed him to come and I told him there was no need.

I changed out of my shirt and bra (still wearing the heavy-duty support contraption) and waited for the doctor, who almost immediately entered the room.

She looked at my scars and was very happy with my healing progress, then asked if I had any concerns or questions.

My first question, already pre-planned, was to ask when it would be safe to go for a dental appointment – cleaning and whatever work may be necessary. I knew timing was extremely important from a previous conversation wherein my plastic surgeon explained the danger of bacteria from teeth cleaning. The bacteria, released into the blood stream, would find its way to the new-forming protective “pocket” surrounding the implants, causing hardening – encapsulation. This is something to avoid after this type of surgery, according to my plastic surgeon. She informed me it would be safe to see my dentist six months from today, in November.

4WeeksImplants1

© Swoosieque
4-weeks post-op exchange surgery to implants. Ugly, lumpy mounds.

Next, we talked about nipples. I told her that I still did not like the shape of my chest. She countered with, “right now, your mind is seeing mounds with scars; with nipples, your mind will recognize those mounds as breasts!”

I did not disagree with her, I felt no need to discuss the subject any further, I also expressed my thought that perhaps in time, as I lose weight (I need to lose forty pounds) my opinion may change. No, losing weight will make no change to the prosthetics within my chest. The size and shape, especially the shape, will not change, thus, neither will my decision to forego nipple reconstruction.

NippleSizesSamples

© Swoosieque
Three sizes silicon nipples and adherent rings.

In the meantime, I have ordered some removable silicone nipples which I found on a Crossdressing and Transgender supply website.

ImplantsW_Nipples

© Swoosieque
post-mastectomy implants with removable, silicone nipples.

I tried on the small sized nipples to see if my plastic surgeon was correct. Would my brain look into the mirror and think, “Voila! Breasts!”

Hell no! The nipples look real, my breast-mounds look like lumps of poorly stuffed smashed sausages! They are not shaped like breasts!

I have, however, come to terms with this reconstruction as follows:

  • I am firstly and most importantly, ALIVE
  • I have an excellent prognosis for a long life
  • My pre-cancer breasts were grotesque!
  • My post-mastectomy “breasts” look fine in a bra, under clothes
  • I can shift my focus on more important issues relevant to actual health rather than vanity

With my acceptance of how things look, I forego any further surgeries related to reconstruction – I had better quit while I’m ahead.

With the way in which these “breasts” turned out, I could only imagine how awful the reconstructed nipples would look! They might end up on the sides of my nose! I shall leave well enough alone.

Bottom line – if you are reading this as a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient, seeking information from other survivors, take heart, my story is not typical. Most of my breast cancer blogging friends and many surviving family members seem to be pleased with their reconstruction, but, nothing is ever 100% guaranteed.

I don’t know what I could have asked my plastic surgeon prior to surgery which might have steered me to a different plastic surgeon. If I had seen my blog, I think I would have printed out these pictures and asked the prospective plastic surgeon what the chances were of ending up with the same results.

I didn’t have time for questions though. I wanted the cancer out of my body and THAT was accomplished. My lumpy, uneven breast mounds are my battle scars, proving that I won the fight, I LIVE!!!

Oh, one more thing about battle scars. I bought the silicone scar cream, bioCorneum plus SPF30, which Angelina Jolie used and my plastic surgeon recommended. I bought mine at Amazon. In a future post I will report how the scars are responding.

BAR_LINE2

Advertisements

22 responses to “One Month Post-exchange Surgery

  1. you go girl 🙂 be happy with how they are because at least you beat the cancer and won 😀

    Like

  2. I really hate the way my implants looks, but there’s nothing really wrong with them except they aren’t real. I don’t think I’d really like anything made of silicone. I’m glad I skipped the nipples.

    BUT. They look fine under clothing with a bra. And in the end, that matters.

    There really ARE worse things than unattractive fake breasts. Lots worse.

    Like

    • Exactly! That’s why I chose to start focusing on getting on with my life rather than being stuck on the appearance of my chest.

      I am beginning to feel relief as I learn to live with the results – again, key word being “live”.

      Yes, there are worse things than unattractive fake breasts – chemo, radiation, triple negative bc, metastasis, etc…

      Like

  3. I am interested in hearing how the cream works for you. I’ve been using just a Vitamin E cream I got at the drugstore.

    As you know, I had the TRAM flap surgery. While more “real” than silicone, they have little or no sensation due to the surgery. I had the nipple reconstruction, but declined further “tweaking” when it was offered. For some reason, I don’t really WANT mine to look just like “real” breasts. I want to keep what scars are left as a memorial to survival. And I plan on visiting a tattoo artist for something personal and meaningful on the areolas, rather than just the darkening tattoos from the surgeon.

    Bottom line, it’s your body and your breasts, and you should do what means the most to you.

    Like

    • I also have absolutely NO FEELING in these breast mounds. I was told to not expect any sensation or feeling to return, ever. It’s really a weird sensation, or, more precisely, lack thereof!

      IF I choose to do anything in the future, I really like your idea of tattoos, but for me, it would be without the nipple surgery, just some kind of meaningful tattoo, but, that would be way far down the road… after my scars settle down and I lose my first 20 pounds. 🙂

      Like

    • Oh, forgot to mention, yes, I will be taking weekly photos of the scars as I test out that scar cream. I’ll give it a month and then write and show any progress! 😀

      Like

  4. Of course, it’s totally understandable if you’re tired of being a patient and ready to move on, but I hear something in this post that says you are trying to convince yourself to settle. Have you thought about getting another opinion to see what a better surgeon would be able to do? When I was doing my research online, I came across a few surgeons’ photo galleries that included re-dos. It couldn’t hurt to get some information. Yes, being alive is the most important thing, but after what you’ve been through, you deserve to be happy with the results. There’s a website called ratemds.com that allows you to enter your area and the specialty you’re looking for. It will bring up doctors and comments from patients along with ratings.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply and the suggestion of ratemds.com, I have bookmarked it for future reference.

      Some of my thought process has been that I don’t really care what my chest looks like naked, even though I am married, what seems most important to my husband is that I’m not complaining and crying. He’s happy that I’m alive too. 😉

      One thing I forgot to mention about my last visit with the plastic surgeon – she took her final pictures of my chest. I would be willing to be a MILLION DOLLARS that THOSE photos will NOT be used on her website as examples of her work. Unfortunately, on plastic surgeon’s sites, they are only going to post their finest works, not their botches. I think word of mouth is best.

      Thank you again for your comments, I truly appreciate them!

      Like

  5. It is good that you’ve documented with words and pictures for potential readers that are newly facing this surgery. Pictures and honesty are needed, they help in making choices!

    Like

    • Thanks Curmudgeon, I agree. And, I will continue to take pictures as I lose weight and these implants settle in, hoping against despair that time will smooth things out.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

      Like

  6. Thank you so much for being brave enough to speak the truth about your reconstruction. I am having a bilateral mastectomy in 2 weeks and have chosen not to have reconstruction at this time. Your blog made me feel a lot better about making that decision. I have always been large-breasted and am actually looking forward to not having breasts. I haven’t read much about fake ones for after the surgery, but I know they exist and plan to get them in a variety of sizes. I think it will be a refreshing change to decide which breasts to wear with a particular outfit instead of having all my clothing decisions be based on my breast size. I will no longer have to shop in the Plus Size department for tops! I will be able to button a blouse without those miserable gaps! Sorry . . . I am getting carried away. Just wanted to tell you that I don’t usually read blogs and such, but yours is really cool and helpful.

    Like

    • It’s already August 31st and I have no idea how I missed your comment!

      I love your attitude, about using the silicone forms to wear rather than go through the surgery. If I had known how badly this reconstruction was going to be, I would have NOT gone for reconstruction. The idea of being able to change sizes (silicone breast forms) sounds so cool! Wish I knew then, what I know now.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

      Like

  7. Thank you for sharing. I’m not there yet, but I understand. I love the idea that you are focusing on the positive. Congratulations….You’ve won! Now find joy each day!

    Like

    • As I mentioned to the previous comment, I don’t know how I missed these last 3 comments. Oh well, better late than never to reply.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m heading over to your blog to see how you are doing!

      Like

  8. Wow — looking at your reconstruction pics, I swear they look exactly like mine. I had my bilateral mastectomy in April and my exchange surgery three days ago. I had really great breasts before cancer. I’m having a hard time looking in the mirror now. They’re lumpy and flat across the front and I can’t imagine even finding a bra that would fit these. They don’t look like breasts, more like someone took a mold of my flattened breasts in a sports bra and stuck them on me. I know there are plenty of things worse than ugly fake breasts, but this all sucks. I know I’ll get past it but for now it’s just disappointing.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for commenting!

      Just last week, I requested that all of my records, from my plastic surgeon, be sent to a different plastic surgeon, including the photographs – ALL of them. Even now, nearly 6 months after the implant exchange, these “mounds” are still ugly and lumpy. I just want a second opinion and this plastic surgeon has a tremendous reputation for fixing mess-ups.

      I don’t know if anything can be done to make mine look more like real breasts, or even if I would decide to go ahead with another surgery, I’m not sure it’s worth it. But, as time goes by, I am learning to live with this ugliness.

      Like

Thoughts on this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s