All I Want for Christmas is a NEW NIPPLE

As promised, here’s a post with the details of my final reconstructive surgery. This surgery was to modify the shape of Righty, and to do some skin origami to create a nipple. Prior to this surgery, Righty was just a bag o’ skin with a silicone implant. The mastectomy removed ALL breast tissue, so there was nothing in there to give it a little padding – you could feel the edges of the implant. When Dr. FixIt first described this procedure to me, a looooong time ago, I said, “like spackle!” He did not laugh. The spackle is actually fat, transferred from my abdomen in a liposuction procedure (nice!).

For the first step of the nipple reconstruction, about 2 weeks ago I went in to Dr. FixIt’s office for a procedure called a “delay.” Under local anesthesia (that I barely needed – can’t feel much in that boob), he cut a keyhole-shaped flap of skin, which he then sutured back down. Radiation can cause would healing issues, and cutting the skin ahead of time allowed healing to begin early.

Two weeks ago, Dr. FixIt cut the pattern on the left into the breast and then sutured it back down. In yesterday’s surgery, he did the rest of the steps shown above.

During surgery, Dr. FixIt removed the sutures and folded the skin flap up into a nipple shape. Next, he grafted some skin from my lower abdomen (someplace with no hair) to create the areola. And voilà, new nipple! Here is an article that explains this procedure in more detail.

It took forever to get this surgery scheduled, because it was not urgent. But my BFF was on it, and she was able to pull off a before-Christmas date, which was all I wanted. I also wanted an early time slot – my previous surgery was 5pm, and it was torture not to be able to eat OR DRINK (even water!) all day. Well, my wish was granted … my check-in time was bloody 6am!!! I ended up driving myself to the hospital (35 minutes away). Tad dropped the kids off for school, picked up our friend Scott, and came to get the car. It is now at Scott’s house to get its battery recharged and we’ll go get it today or tomorrow. (THANKS SCOTT!!!) Meanwhile, back at the house, Mackie met the mobile groomer who was scheduled to come before we knew the surgery date. (THANKS MACKIE!!!) Whew. It takes a village.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, my check-in process was uneventful. Once again, I won the bet with Dr. FixIt – he again swore they would not draw blood; he again was wrong. But this time, so early in the morning, it was no problem. The surgery started ON TIME at 7:30am. I was done by around 10am (I think; I was pretty groggy).

When we arrived home we discovered that this surgery was particularly oozy – I had leaked all over the car seat. While Tad cleaned that up, I thanked myself for saving the chucks I got at the hospital when I gave birth, and the disposable mats from when we were potty training the kids. With those on the bed, and some ratty towels arranged on top of many pillows, soon I was comfortably relaxed, sleeping off the anesthesia.

Merry Bloody Christmas! I’ve covered the bloodiest bits of cotton in this photo – you’re welcome.

I was warned that the pain with this procedure would come from the liposuction and the skin graft, not the breast. This seems to be the case, although it really is not that painful and I’m once again skipping the pain killers. This morning I fashioned my own drainage system down there to catch any lingering drips. I am wearing the same kind of surgical bra I’d been given before, and a compression band around my abdomen, both stuffed with a copious amount of cotton padding that is getting everywhere. Tad says I look like a Teddy bear that a puppy has gotten to; I think the bloody cotton around my waist looks like some kind of gruesome tutu.

Later this morning we’ll drive up to RB to my post-op visit where the bandages will come off and I get to see how it looks. Hopefully they’ll re-bandage me more effectively and I won’t need to be so creative with the gauze pads.


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