I had a bilateral mastectomy in June 2013.
Subcutaneous ("nipple-sparing") mastectomy
During subcutaneous ("nipple-sparing") mastectomy, all of the breast tissue is removed, but the nipple is left alone. Subcutaneous mastectomy is performed less often than simple or total mastectomy because more breast tissue is left behind afterwards that could later develop cancer. Some physicians have also reported that breast reconstruction after subcutaneous mastectomy can result in distortion and possibly numbness of the nipple.
I was told that my cancer was far enough away from my nipple for the sparing procedure. I elected to go with nipple sparing for a simple reason. I just felt the need to keep a part of me. I hope that doesn't come back to bite me. And, yes - it's all numb. I can't feel a thing. But, it's still a part of the 'old' me that I felt safe to keep based on my doctor's assessment.
Over the course of several months, I had several tissue expansion procedures prior to chemo and toward the end of chemo.
A silicone balloon expander is inserted under the skin near the area to be repaired and then gradually filled with salt water over time, causing the skin to stretch and grow.
By the way, no one really prepared me for the pain and discomfort associated with having expanders. The procedure - days following & the actual expanders were the reason for many a sleepless night.
In January 2014, I had my exchange or breast reconstruction surgery.
What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is achieved through several plastic surgery techniques that attempt to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size following mastectomy.
Although breast reconstruction can rebuild your breast, the results are highly variable:
A reconstructed breast will not have the same sensation and feel as the breast it replaces.
Visible incision lines will always be present on the breast, whether from reconstruction or mastectomy
So ..... I gave all that background to say this Friday I will be undergoing another surgery. After my reconstruction, I told my doctor that I would NEVER consider elective surgery.
After months of poking and prodding in 2013/2014, I figured I could live with the outcome of my reconstruction. When I took the bandages off (in January 2014,) I stood in the mirror surrounded by my best friends and cried. I didn't see the outcome that I expected to see. I am not sure what I expected to see, but what I was staring at was not it. My boobs were more flat than plump and spread wider from left to right than I expected. That said, my plastic surgeon did a great job relatively speaking. I've been around other mastectomy patients and even some doctors who have examined me have commented on how well my reconstruction looks. My scars are minimal. Having seen some of my friends' scars, I agree. My doc did a good job!
Breast removal and reconstruction can be an emotional roller coaster. You're ok. You're not ok. It's fine. It's not fine. You're thankful to be alive & you shouldn't let anything else matter ... until you look at yourself naked and you miss what you use to see. Up / down ... bumpy ride (still almost 3 years later).
It's important to note that breast augmentation for a mastectomy patient is NOT the same as a woman who still has her breast tissue. There is a certain amount of discomfort - stiffness daily. It's just something I've learned to live with .... Also, as you gain weight, your boobies do not get bigger. You grow; they do not. This is the first thing that began to 'alter' the way I saw my new boobies.
Now that things have calmed and cooled a bit, I've reconsidered my position on elective surgery. I made a decision late last year to undergo more surgery to correct a few things:
1. My right implant is harder than the left. It's not unbearable. But, I'm going to get it fixed.
2. Now that my skin has stretched a bit more without more painful expansions. I am going to get a slightly larger implant.
3. My chest area is hollow where all the tissue was removed. I am going to have a fat transfer (from under my arms into my chest area).
Every person is different. Some women opt for reconstruction. Some do not. I am sharing this information because I've always been transparent in THIS...... THIS that I've called my ASSIGNMENT. It's not intended to be the path for someone else (at all). It's an opportunity (again) for me to share as I travel through this maze.
I am thankful for the continued support & most of all your prayers.
I am praying for a solid and quick recovery 'cuz I have Training to do ....
Santa Barbara Adventure Race June 2016! (whoot whoot!!)