Tag Archives: breast reconstruction

Scar and surgery photos

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

Had another follow up appointment on Friday. Dr. M refreshed the tape that’s holding up my right foob. We are going to keep doing this for a few more weeks in hopes that it will be enough for the scar tissue to form at the bottom of the pocket and close it up, BUT I may need another surgery anyway. We compared the two sides size-wise and found that we may need to swap out my right implant for a larger one. Plus, I still need to do something about this missing nipple, so yes, more OR time in my future.

He removed the strips covering my incisions, so I can now inspect them closely. They look 3049813476 times better than after the PBM. No necrosis in sight! I have a spot that looks a little bit like the start of a stitch abscess, so I will be watching it. Here’s what my scars looked like pre-exchange and what they look like now, 12 days post-op. Different lighting, but you can see that at the bottom that they are no longer angry red and keloid-ish.

Scars on righty   Scars on lefty

I also got a copy of my surgery pictures! It is really cool to see the changes from this angle. From left: 1. 184 g/ccs removed during PBM surgery (1/22/2013), 2. Expanders at exchange (9/3/2013), 3. One out, one to go, 4. Mentor round, smooth, high profile silicones in 350ccs.

PBM  Exchange 2 expanders  Exchange 1 expander  Exchange implants

So I think this is why my right foob seems smaller than the left one, even though the implant size is the same at 350ccs: I am concave/the hole in my chest is deeper on this side, so the implant sinks into the cavity more. We can’t do anything about it right this moment, though.

Concave front view   Concave side view

Exchange surgery aftermath

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

Easy peasyIt has been five days since the exchange surgery that swapped out my rock-hard tissue expanders for soft and squishy silicone implants. I must say that as I was told beforehand, this surgery really was a breeze compared to the original prophylactic bilateral mastectomy I underwent in January.

My husband took the day of surgery (Tuesday) off from work, but I was home alone the next day and onward. I spent the majority of that day napping, but was pretty mobile while awake. As I already mentioned (see: From the other side), I didn’t experience very much pain. Took my last Norco right before Wednesday’s follow up appointment, during which my drains were removed. This time around it hurt like a b#%$@! I’d say around an 8.Pain Scale

The second follow up appointment was on Friday. This is the day I started driving. During my appointment I got my handy dandy medical device ID card. I’m flying internationally in two weeks, so I’ll make sure to have it with me, but I hope I never have to use this thing.

Kinesio tapeDr. M removed the ACE bandage and bra to examine the girls. He agreed that righty is hanging lower than lefty and used some kinesio-type tape to mold it into the proper position. I was told to continue to wear a tight bra and return on Monday morning.

Hubby was out of town the whole weekend, so I spent it home alone taking it easy. I had to keep reminding myself that even though I feel 100% fine, I’m not. I was wrestling with a pickle jar earlier and finally thought: these pickles are good, but a complication-free recovery is better and had my veggie burger sans pickles. It was still yummy.

The reveal

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

Saw the PS this afternoon for my exchange surgery follow-up. Some great news and some not so awesome. First, the good news: the hemovac/pancake drains have been removed. Woo hoo!!! Buh buy, I hope I never see you again!

In other news: during this appointment I got to see the girls in their full glory for the first time. They are smaller than what I was expecting, even with my over-compensation when declaring what the perfect size would be. We discussed doing 400-450ccs and over-filled to 550ccs to accommodate this volume. The implants I have are Mentor round, smooth, high profile silicones in 350ccs. I was very adamant that I did not want to be able to rest a drink on my bosom. Well, I definitely got the natural slope I wanted. No “shelving” in sight!

2013_9_4And the not so awesome news: righty sits lower than lefty. When I had the expanders, it was the other way around: lefty sat lower than righty. The PS had to open up the pocket to make things even. I don’t know if too much tissue was separated or if it is just swelling or if that’s the void from the drain tube that will eventually close down a bit. This is pretty obvious when I put on a tank top. I didn’t really get a good look and notice this until I was at home, so haven’t yet discussed it with Dr. M.

Aside from the asymmetry and being smaller than I anticipated, I think they actually look pretty good. I like the shape, the amount of cleavage, and the natural slope.

From the other side

Thank you to everyone who sent their love, support, and best wishes for today! The exchange surgery was a piece of cake! Nom nom. 🙂

2013_9_3 post-exchangeWe started just after 9am and I was on my way home by 2pm. Dr. M removed my tissue expanders and replaced them with silicone implants. I didn’t see him post-op, so don’t know yet what projection and volume I ended up with. They are definitely smaller than the expanders and are not all the way up to my collar bones. Woo hoo! I haven’t messed much with the dressings and plan on leaving this up to Dr. M.

On the pain scale, I’m at about 2. Really feeling good. I took Norco, stinky antibiotics, and some Arnica Montana to help fight inflammation and bruising as soon as I got home and ate something. This time around the nurse gave me an anti-nausea, behind-the-ear patch. I do have terrible dry mouth, though, so I’m drinking lots of water and eating cough drops like candy. This also means frequent trips to the potty.

Drain reservoir

I am sporting a sexy hospital-issue bra and an ACE bandage as you can see above and dealing with two drains. Yes, this happened. The tubes exit my armpits causing me more discomfort than the chest pains! Once again they are the giant hemovac type reservoirs. I have a follow up appointment Wednesday afternoon, during which the drains are supposed to be removed. Less than 24 hours to go!

Squishy time

Mario finishWell, the day is almost here. Exchange surgery is less than 12 hours away! I’m so happy to finally be here. All that’s left is a good night’s sleep. I feel like Mario when he finally reaches those stairs at the end of the level. 😀

Following the handy-dandy checklist I put together for my prophylactic mastectomy back in January, I have gotten everything ready. Based on all the feedback from the Ladies that have gone through the exchange surgery before me, I expect this to be a breeze. The exchange surgery will only take about two hours and will be an outpatient procedure. I should be home by about 4pm.

Prep for surgery

I didn’t borrow a recliner this time, so I built myself a pillow-fort-kind-of-thing on the bed. I prepped a basket of essentials to keep by my bedside. It will travel with me between the bed upstairs and the couch, as needed. The hospital bag is packed with a few essentials like the tablet, hand wipes, chapstick, cough drops, lanyard (for those stinkin’ drains), medications, and my awesome My Destiny Foundation tiara.

I have been downing prune juice for the past couple of days to get ahead of the constipation. Also bought some snacks and food items that will be easy to prep while I’m home alone this week. I took the rest of the week off and expect to be doing absolutely nothing.

Later gaters. Write to ya from the other side!

Headlights

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

So this little trick popped up in the Facebook groups. Did you know that if you hold a flashlight to a boob with an expander or an implant, it will glow? Yes, yes I did try this myself. Gives a new meaning to HEADLIGHTS! The left is the image from i-am-bored.com circulating the groups; the right is my version. You can see the shade of the expander port in the top of the image. Creepy!

Headlights

Show me the goods!

Only two weeks to go until my exchange surgery! I am so excited. Can’t wait to be on the other side of this thing. I’m looking forward to being finished. I report to the hospital at 7:30am, for a 9:30am surgery, on Tuesday, September 3rd.

Pre-op appointment

Met with Dr. M this afternoon for my pre-op appointment. Discussed a few more details, got my pictures taken, signed the familiar consent forms, got the don’t-take-these-meds sheet, had my blood drawn, and peed in a cup.

Here are a few of my final questions:

  • QuestionWill I be required to wear any type of bra (compressions or underwire) after the exchange surgery? Should I purchase something? No. If any type of compression is needed it will be via ace bandage and dressings or a mastectomy bra that will be issued by the hospital.
  • I have hypertrophic-ish spots on my incision scars from the mastectomy, should I use something special after the exchange to prevent this from happening? The lumpy scar tissue will be removed during the exchange surgery. Since the pockets are already created/expanded, there won’t be as much stress on the incisions going forward. Silicone sheets? That’s an option that will apply pressure to the incisions to keep them flat. We will revisit once they close.
  • What about this ugly, scarred tissue from the area that was necrotic? Depending on how much skin is loose/available after the implants are placed, we may be able to remove the chunk now. Otherwise, a skin graft from the hip area is an option, but that would need to happen at a later time.
  • And the most important question: will I have drains again? Yes. That wiped the smile off my face. Noooooooooooo! I was hoping I would never see a surgical drain again.

For my photo session today, I removed everything except my underpants. This is the third set of full body pics we’ve taken, but it was still weird. While standing on a pedestal I was thinking of this XKCD strip Lannis shared a little while ago and giggling. Where are my beads? I earned them!

Source: xkcd.com

Eighth expansion

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

I can almost smell it: the end of the expansion process. This was supposed to be my final expansion, however I wimped out and we only added 25ccs to each expander, for a total of 525ccs/side. The goal is 550ccs, so I have another appointment for the final FINAL expansion in one week.

GravityThe reason for halving the volume is pain. The last expansion brought on a lot of pain. Not that I thought it was going to get more pleasant, but it was pretty bad. As usual, the worst of it come early in the morning. I’ve never dreaded getting out of bed so much. As soon as I sat up, gravity would work its magic. Talk about grumpy mornings.

The pressure was intense and I was on ibuprofen for about three days after. It didn’t help that we spent that weekend camping, so I was not sleeping in my own comfy bed. I really thought if someone poked me, a foob would pop. I even had a dream that my cat sat on my chest and the thing just blew up under her. Not like a slow deflation, but a violent explosion! I woke up in a sweat and immediately groped my chest to make sure everything was still there. Whew!

Enjoy the pics. It’s getting crowded down there!

2013_7_12 Fills

100 + 50 +75 +75 + 50 + 50 + 50 + 50 + 25 = 525ccs

Extra! Extra! Seventh expansion

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

The Virginian-PilotThe story I mentioned in my last post, has been published in Sunday’s edition of The Virginian-Pilot. “At-risk local women take the fight to breast cancer” features stories of the two local FORCE coordinators and mentions this very blog. Check it out.

In other news, I am definitely over the hill with the expansions. I reached the size I’d like to be after the exchange surgery with my last expansion that brought me to 450ccs and am now in the overfilling stage. My seventh expansion added 50ccs to each expander, for a total of 500ccs/sideThere is one more 50cc fill left. I don’t  know how that’s going to go. I feel like any minute now, these foobs are going to pop!

No surprise that this was the most painful expansion thus far. After previous fills I usually had a shitty Saturday morning, but did not really think about it by Sunday afternoon. Today is Monday and I did not have a pleasant morning. I slept fine, but I was feeling pain as soon as I sat up in bed after waking up. Gravity … I hate your face right now! I am both looking forward to and dreading the final expansion in three weeks.

2013_6_21 Fills

100 + 50 +75 +75 + 50 + 50 + 50 + 50 = 500ccs

Sixth expansion

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

Yup, I’m done size-wise. I wasn’t 100% sure after the fifth expansion, but I’m 200% sure now. 50ccs have been added to each expander, for a total of 450ccs/side.

After the last expansion brought me to 400ccs, I was quite happy with the result and declared that this is what size I’d like to be after the exchange. However, the feedback on pre versus post-exchange size has been pretty consistent: when you think you’re done, do a little extra; implants sit different and will be a bit smaller than the expanders. So here we are, at 450ccs.

What’s next? Two more expansions are in my future. My PS overfills by 100ccs in order to overstretch the skin and muscle. This ultimately gives a more natural result post-exchange surgery.

Here they are after six expansions.

2013_6_7 fills

100 + 50 +75 +75 + 50 + 50 + 50 = 450ccs