Today’s the day I explain my specific beast reconstruction process.
Once I knew I was going to proceed with a full bilateral mastectomy, I had to determine if I was also going to have reconstruction done. Some women don’t; they simply have the mastectomy and then use a prosthesis to try and recreate their original body. Some women decide to not even do that and simply elect to be flat chested afterward. In retrospect I kind of wish I was bold and courageous enough to have taken that route as I’ve seen images of women who have and it’s a brave and powerful statement, but not one I was willing to make at that time.
After talking to my plastic surgeon and researching options online, I decided to have immediate implant reconstruction which is a surgical procedure with 2 surgeons in the operating room at the same time. One was my breast surgeon who did the mastectomy and the other was my plastic surgeon who immediately afterward, put in an expander so that I could eventually be fitted with implants.
The procedure is tough, as are most reconstruction stories I’ve heard and researched are and I was not really very happy throughout the entire process. When I first heard all my reconstructive options from the plastic surgeon, I elected to go the expander and implant route because it seemed like the easiest route to take, but I found the expanders, and the expansion process, to be very uncomfortable.
It felt like I was wearing an iron vest for the 3 months I had them in. The entire process is reallyl daunting. They have to put the expander, and ultimately the implants, behind your chest muscle, in order to position it in place. And so they gradually expand the skin and muscle by adding saline over several weeks and it is not a fun process.
I was taking Vicodin every 6 hours as well as Ambien to sleep for several months. Me, “Miss Drug Free, only put healthy things in my body” and here I feel like a drug addict. My 14 year old daughter tells me “Oh yeah, Vicodin, I think that’s what Eminem was addicted to.” Oh, how lovely, what a nice thing to have in common with an angry, white, homophobic, rap star. (Who, by the way, I happen to love.)
A pet peeve of mine, bear with me. Every time I talk to my plastic surgeon about the expansion, and what I want to look like, I say things like “I’d like to be the way I was before, a small B cup, nothing too big.” Originally he said, “OK, that will probably be about 300-325cc’s” (this is the lingo they use for size of implants). Well, now that we’re really here, and the expanders are in, every time we discuss this, he says things like, “Well, when we get to about 350cc’s”….and then the last time I saw him on Friday, he said, “When we are at about 400cc’s,” at which point I practically fell over, because I don’t want to have huge breasts! And, clearly, he (being a man) thinks I do.
The funny thing is, that when I ask Mike if he’s got a preference (I actually said, “This is your only chance, Buddy, if you want ’em bigger, let me know now”) he said, “Do whatever you want, I’m cool.” Thank goodness. Because to be perfectly honest, in addition to the fact that I don’t really want big boobs, the expansion process is really uncomfortable and the smaller I go, the less expansion I have to deal with.
TIP: Do a lot of research online. Call friends and ask about people who’ve gone through something similar. You’ll be better prepared, and you’ll know what you’re in for. BUT, pace yourself, as it can get overwhelming.
I would usually only allow myself to spend about an hour reading through other peoples experiences; the details are disturbing at times, and often not even relevant to what I experienced, so be mindful about who you research and how long you research.