Category Archives: Breast Reconstruction

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.

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Exchange Surgery Outcome

When I took the bra and bandages off three days after surgery and looked down, I cried! To me, to my eyes, what I saw was SQUARE pectorals and I cried. I cried little-girl, helpless tears as my husband looked at me with deer-in-the-headlight eyes. When I saw his reaction, I knew I had to gather up my emotions since he started talking about suing people.

angry_man

© Unknown – Google

“I don’t like to see you cry!” He firmly expressed to me, “… and someone’s going to pay!”

It wasn’t until a full week had passed when I chatted on facebook with my cousin (she had her exchange surgery nearly two months prior) that we shared news and photographs. My cousin’s latest news was that one of her implants was infected. I asked how she knew something was wrong, what were her symptoms. She explained that a small area near the healed scar began to be painful and red and by the next morning, her whole ‘breast’ was swollen twice its size and a burning red in color.

infected Implant1

Staph Infected Implant
© Real Self . com

She sent me a picture, (not sharing my cousin’s photo here for her privacy) displaying the swollen, red breast mound. I commented on how painful the breast looked but how lovely and realistic they were. I also told her how dissatisfied I was with mine and that I would take a picture and share it with her.

It’s funny how I never had a picture of my breasts before cancer and now, I don’t care who sees them if it will help another person who is going through breast cancer and reconstruction.

When I looked at the photos I had just taken, I thought, “Gee, those aren’t my implants, those actually look pretty good!” But, they WERE my implants! They looked totally different in the photograph than they did when I looked downward at them.

SueImplants1

7 days post-op Exchange Surgery
© Cancer Is Not Pink – Swoosieque

So, I shared my photo with my cousin and one of my daughters-in-law who both told me they thought they looked good! Oh, and my best friend concurred. So, I am content with them even though to me, looking downward, they still seem ‘square’. I am actually feeling so much better about them that I am now considering possibly changing my mind about nipple reconstruction. That’s a woman’s prerogative, right, to change her mind?

Meanwhile, I am going to concentrate on catching up with my blogging buddies’ posts and some wp challenges.

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