Since I have not talked about my surgeries in a while on this blog, I thought I’d give things a recap and an update with how things have turned out.
Monday’s surgery was my first of two reconstructive surgeries, this one being the most major (although less major than the mastectomy itself, which was not an outpatient procedure). During the mastectomy (right side only), a breast expander was installed. The breast expander is a silicone bag with a port on it. Over time, the surgeon injects saline into the expander. The purpose is to stretch the skin to prepare it for the eventual implant. They cannot put the implant in right away because the skin after the mastectomy has to recover before it can hold the ultimate volume of the implant. Also, radiation should be done before the permanent implant is installed.
My surgery on Monday was to swap out the defective expander with the permanent implant before the skin had the chance to shrink back down. Dr. FixIt made an incision under the breast to do the swap. He did not go in through the mastectomy scar (which runs horizontally across the middle of the breast) because apparently it would not heal as well.
I had decided at the outset to take advantage of the whole situation to do a breast reduction and lift of Lefty, so that was done on Monday also. Apparently it’s required by CA law for health insurance to cover cosmetic procedures on the unaffected breast after breast cancer to make things as even as possible, so I figured I might as well. In this surgery (and with that link, you now know who Dr. FixIt is…), they again go in under the breast and make an “anchor” shaped incision and remove some tissue. They also reposition the nipple for the “lift” part of the procedure (headlights!!).
Dr. FixIt explained that Lefty would be much higher than Righty immediately after the procedure, but would settle, because it’s natural breast tissue (no implant). He also reminded me that the two boobs are starting out from radically different places, and are having very different procedures. He was going to do his best to have me end up with things as symmetric as possible, but clearly he was trying to set my expectations. Quite honestly, if I could survive with the asymmetry I’ve had over the last year, I’m ok with a bit of residual crookedness – hey, adds character.
Yesterday I had my post-op with Dr. FixIt’s nurse. I got to see my new boobs for the first time. They are wrapped under a thick layer of cotton right now, to provide some compression. I had Tad take a photo (sorry, not gonna post that); they look pretty angry right now, of course. I think Lefty looks a lot smaller than Righty, and I assume (hope) that’s because of the settling thing I talked about above. Quite honestly, Righty looks pretty close to how it looked when the breast expander was full. There is a pinch of skin that was created during the mastectomy that is a bit smoothed out but still there; I’m hoping this gets fixed a bit more in the second recon surgery.
Speaking of which, there is one more surgery to go, to be scheduled in a couple of months. At this second surgery, Dr. FixIt will form a nipple by somehow pinching up the surrounding skin. Additionally, he will inject fat from elsewhere on my body into Righty as padding around the implant, since there is no breast tissue to provide such padding (as there would be for a normal breast augmentation) post-mastectomy. And then, with any luck, I’ll be truly DONE.