my breast reconstruction, by Judy

It can take a looong time, but it will certainly be worth it in the end.

I’m in the midst of breast reconstruction. I had a mastectomy of my left breast in Aug. 2008, followed by radiation in Sept. and Oct. of 2008. I was told to wait a year after radiation to start any breast reconstruction process.

So I did. I waited a year, then saw a plastic surgeon I like to call Dr. Boobala (nope, not his real name) and have been seeing him for almost a year now. I had my initial consultation in early Sept. 2009 and had my first surgery on Oct. 12, 2009. That surgery was a latissimus dorsi flap breast reconstruction. That involved taking muscle from my back and moving it to my chest, forming a small breast mound. There wasn’t enough to make a full-sized breast, so I then had another surgery on March 15. That surgery was to reduce Righty and put a tissue expander into Lefty. Dr. Boobala did it that way because he didn’t think he’d be able to make Lefty as big as Righty (the remaining breast) . . . and that was fine with me. I don’t care that much about the size of the breasts; I mainly didn’t want to deal with prostheses anymore and wanted a breast back. Losing a breast was harder for me than I initially thought it would be.

After healing from the implant/reduction surgery, Dr. Boobala started the “fill” process. Every week since March 31, I’ve gone into the office, and they’ve “filled” my expander with saline. This stretches out my skin so that, when there’s enough skin, I’ll wait for six weeks, then have another surgery to put a permanent implant in.

Dr. Boobala recently told me that he might not be able to get Lefty to quite the same size as Righty, so if I want, I can have Righty reduced even more at the same time that they put the implant into Lefty.

After all of that, I’ll have to have another small surgery to form a nipple and aereola.

It’s quite a process, as you can see, but I already feel better about myself, not having to use a prosthesis and having two breasts, even if one of them keeps getting “inflated” 😉 each week. I think we’re almost done with the fills — maybe two or three more of those, but I’m not sure about that. At any rate, once those are done, I’ll take six weeks off to let the skin settle at its new size. Then I’ll have the surgery to put an implant in Righty and I’ll go ahead and get Lefty reduced again if needed and if insurance covers it.

So. There’s the story of my Righty and Lefty. I’ll admit, I’m getting tired of going to Dr. Boobala’s office each week, but that’s really a minor complaint. As I tell them when they say “back for more torture next week!”,

I’ve been through much worse.

And no, there will be no pictures of the new boobs. Well, Dr. Boobala will have those, but I certainly won’t be sharing any. *ahem*

Heh.

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6 Responses to my breast reconstruction, by Judy

  1. […] Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer. […]

  2. Articley says:

    Thank you very much …

  3. k8 says:

    i’m on the same llloooooonnnngggggg recon journey. My PS says he won’t reduce the right side until we’re done and happy with the left, so he has something to match……made sense to me….

    k8

  4. Hi – followed the link in the latest WP email message. I am 11 years post oral-pharyngeal cancers. I can no longer swallow so use a stomach tube for everything – no more worrying about groceries :). One of my surgeries involved taking breast tissue and moving it up into the bottom of my mouth (pectoralus flap)to replace the removed cancer tissue – so Lefty has been a bit smaller than Righty for years. Having never been largely endowed, it hasn’t made s difference in clothing but was disconcerting in the beginning. Now, like you, I am glad to be alive, still working and still participating in life. Godspeed in your life and healing.

  5. Jan says:

    I am new to this. Diagnosed with breast cancer last May – had a mastectomy and chemotherapy. In January chose to have the other breast removed so to lessen the worry. I am now scheduled for reconstructive surgery in the fall but am worried about the risk. Especially blood clots. I am on tamoxifen and my oncologist told me I should stop taking it for about 3 week pre surgery. Has anyone else had this concern, issue?

  6. justenjoyhim says:

    Thanks, all.

    Nobody told me to stop taking Tamoxifen for any of my surgeries, Jan. That’s a new one to me.

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