Initial Breast Reconstruction: December 15, 2016
Almost one year ago to the exact day, I was preparing for my initial breast reconstruction following 30 rounds of sizzling sweet cancer torching radiation treatments. It would be about 8 months of living with “boulder boobies”, thank you expanders… and I absolutely could not wait to wake up post-op with my dream foobs, or at least so I thought…
As a breast cancer survivor, doing everything from chemo to a double mastectomy to radiation, at this point in my journey and about a year and a half since my initial diagnosis; I was ready for it to be DONE! I simply wanted to get back to living my life, being me, looking cute and feeling sexy as I always have.
I remember having a few surgical consultations with my plastic surgeon however I truthfully don’t remember doing a ton of research of breast implants prior to my initial surgery. I guess reaching what I thought as the “end of my journey” and pretty much being physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted… I basically put all my faith in my surgeon and let him chose what HE thought was my best option. HUGE mistake people! One, why I would ever let a man chose what my boobs should look like is beyond me (even though my surgeon is absolutely fabulous, What is envisioned and what he envisioned were completely different doll parts). Two, there are a kazillion different implant options, why was I only recommended one or two? Hmnnn…
I even remember having second thoughts the week before my reconstruction! As I was getting my pre-op blood work done, I actually called my plastic surgeons office and spoke with the surgical resident basically explaining my fears of waking up with “pancake boobs”, oh no one wants pancake boobs! I swear at this point, I was having dreams almost nightly, okay not dreams… these were freakin nightmares of me waking up, looking down and just crying. Was this a premonition? Perhaps… or something internal pushing for me to use my voice and be very outspoken about what I picture myself looking like, and what is acceptable in my eyes as a beautiful boobiful rack of titty tatas!
Surgery day came and went and I woke up with the larger size implant (praise Jesus), 470cc Natrelle textured teardrop gummy bear implants. Immediately POD #1 I was unhappy with my newly sculpted chest. As I opened the clasps of my front closure surgical bra, I couldn’t help but think of everything I was upset with. After talking to my doctor and him continuing to reassure me that “they have to settle” and “it takes time”… something deep down told me that it simply wasn’t right.
Then, I fell down the stairs. Oh yes… talk about an extremely frightening and painful experience. Luckily this swap for implants from expanders I did not need a drain, but as my arms stretched out to catch my body from slamming into the 6th step from the top, I felt a tear and immediate pain. No blood thank God and my incisions remained closed however It effing hurt! And that’s me describing it nicely. I called my surgeon in tears of which I could only talk to the I call doctor because of the Christmas Holiday. Oh yes… that was a painfully useless conversation. Basically all I did was monitor my incisions as I watched my right foob raise higher and higher on my chest…
Six months post op came and went and well, just as I had expected… my new foobs were wonky as all heck! I would try to look at my chest from different angles, and grew to really love my left non radiated boob much more than it’s evil step sister, the cancer filled radiation burnt beast righty. I remember begging my surgeon from the very beginning to redo my surgery but of course he wouldn’t touch me for about a year post-op to give my skin and surrounding tissues time to settle and heal. That’s when he mentioned a condition known as Capsular Contracture.
“Capsular contracture is a breast augmentation complication that develops when internal scar tissue forms a tight or constricting capsule around a breast implant, contracting it until it becomes misshapen and hard. … Capsules actually form around every breast implant, silicone or saline but has an increased likelihood with radiation” – google
Oh freaking fabulous! So add my fall down the stairs with a feeling of a tear, 30 rounds of radiation with extra boosts because of node positive breast cancer and WAM, you have yourself the perfect candidate for effed up breast reconstruction!
Then, I began to itch. Okay, not that big of a deal right, I mean… it’s newly operated skin, it must be dry- use more moisturizers, or maybe I’m allergic to something I’m using right? Or could it be that my cancer was hiding and has chosen 1 year post active treatment to recur and ruin my start of my new life forever? After multiple scans, tons of follow-up appointments, and continual discussions with all the genius minded doctors on my oncology team, we came to the conclusion that I am still cancer free! Wahooooooo! However, why am I so stinkin itchy? Could it be the implants? Hmn…
Turns out, the FDA released a warning in 2011 identifying “a possible association between breast implants (specifically textured type) and the development of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma”. At that time, they were simply encouraging doctors to explain risks to their patients and simply perform routine monitoring reporting basically there is nothing to really do unless a patient presents with abnormally symptomology including lumps, bumps, swelling, or asymmetry. Well, I don’t exactly remember my surgeon specifically reporting these details to me aside from any of the other hundred warning regarding surgery so allowing him to place “textured” style implants wasn’t even a question because the reward of them not moving out weighed the risk of malfunction right? Everything causes cancer these days, and I already had it once could it really happen to me again? Gosh… I was sooooo naive.
Anyways, my mystery itchy foobs continued on and on with no real explanation. I finally met with my plastic surgeon and my mystery symptom of itchy boobies along with asymmetry due to potential capsular contracture as well as my loathing toward my crooked boobies was just enough ammo to encourage him to take me under the knife yet again. And this time… I’m having everything done exactly as I want!
Stay Tuned for Part 2: Surgery Options- It’s My Choice This Time!