Tuesday, June 7, 2011

reconstruction process

Since my first surgery to remove my breast and begin the reconstruction process is over, I am now focusing on continuing the reconstruction process. To be honest, I had read some about the process and knew that it would take 6 months to a year, but I really could not focus on the specifics of the process post surgery until I got past my mastectomy surgery. It was too much to wrap my mind around. So, on day 12 post surgery, when the surgeon took my drains out and gave me my first "fill" of my expanders, I went straight home to the Internet.  I found tons of information out there on various blogs and websites I had previously checked out for information, but as I was reading, I was reminded why at some point a few months ago I had to quit reading stuff about my situation on the Internet because I was getting all scared and anxious all over again!!!  So, I made a decision again not to rely on the Internet for information and just wait until I could talk to my surgeon the next week about what really is the future for me. 

This proved also to be tricky because if any of you reading has ever been to a busy surgeons office, you get the sense that they want to get in and get out of your room as quickly as possible.  So, I armed myself with a few questions in my head and attacked him with them the moment he entered the room. He was very patient and did answer all of my questions.  He confirmed with me that I will have fillings each week until I get to a desired size. He recommended around 700 cc of fluid in each expander to look normal for my body size.  Then, I have to wait 3 months and do nothing and have a final, more minor surgery to exchange the temporary expander for the permanent implant.  This surgery will be 1-2 hours, under general anesthesia, in the hospital, but you go home the same day.  He said that it is a much easier recovery-a few days even, because you are not under anesthesia as long (1-2 hours versus 5 1/2 hours) and that no tissue or muscle will be manipulated in any way, just doing the exchange through the same incision site and getting rid of any excess skin that I may have.  There will also not be any drains afterwards! Yes!! Since most of my breast is numb especially around the incision site, I probably wont have much pain or discomfort at all.  So, I confirmed with him, I am "going downhill from here" and he said "yes."  I felt tons better after that conversation because it was important for me to have accurate information about the reconstruction process and much of what I read on the Internet was inaccurate.  It was also important to me that I had crossed the most difficult part of this process, which was the mastectomy surgery.  The thought of having another surgery like that one was depressing, scary and overwhelming for me, so I am glad that this will not be the case.  Three months after my exchange surgery and if I choose to do this, I can have nipples constructed which will be in the surgeons office as a procedure and then the nipple color tattooed on. Another option that I am looking into is 3-d medical tattooing so I would not have to have the nipples constructed (comes with the benefit of not needing a bra), but just have a 3-d nipple image tattooed onto each breast.  But, I am not making any decisions about that until after my next and FINAL surgery, so I will post more on that later.   


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