I had my 4 month post op appointment with Dr. Harper last Friday and it really didn’t go the way I was hoping. Instead of spending my time convincing Dr. Harper how we could get everything done with this next surgery and make it my last, he spent the appointment explaining to me why we needed reset the whole reconstruction process and start again from square one. Hmph
I wrote previously about how the skin in my right boob (cancer boob) isn’t stretching the way it should with the implant in there and really causing things to look less than ideal again. You never know how skin will react after radiation…and well, mine isn’t behaving very well. We removed all of the hard, scarred tissue during my first surgery…but it’s unfortunately built up again over the course of the last 6 months. I don’t know if it’s the firmness of the tissue that’s preventing the proper stretching from happening, if it’s a continued side effect from radiation, or if my boob is just plain stubborn, but here’s where “square one” comes into play.
Surgery 1 take 2 will involve Dr. Harper removing my implant, cleaning out / removing all of the hard tissue that I have, and repositioning my nipple. Because there’s a good amount of tissue that will be removed and my skin has a proven history of not acting as it should…he’ll be putting an expander in my right side instead of a new implant. For the following two months, I’ll have to make weekly trips to the doctor’s office to have more and more fluid added to the expander….and (fingers crossed) stretch the skin on the underside of my boob once and for all.
Why is it so important for my skin to stretch? Without the proper stretching, the implant will always sit higher and will more than likely always pull on my nipple and make me look like Frankboobenstine.
Once he’s happy with the amount of fluid that’s in the expander, I’ll have to wait another month before he goes back in and replaces both of my implants with a fairly new product called the Gummy Bear. The Gummy Bear is supposed to be a good option for women undergoing reconstruction following breast cancer because the implant “contains more cross-linking in the silicone gel than earlier models which makes it more cohesive, which in turn makes the implants firmer”. And which is exactly what I need…a firmer implant that will hold its shape under the pressure of my lumpectomy scar.
The potential 5th surgery, yes I said 5th, will involve the fat grafting (aka silver lining) I wrote about after my second surgery. IF the site of my lumpectomy continues to remain flat with the new implant, Dr. Harper will “harvest” fat (hopefully from my thighs) to inject behind my lumpectomy scar.
It’s all very frustrating and not really what I wanted to be worrying about in the months leading up to the wedding, but it can always be worse right? I’m hoping the implant / expander swap will happen in the next few weeks, so I can get my Gummy Bears the beginning of September. I have no idea how the expander will look, or if I’ll be completely lopsided once it’s reached max capacity, but one bulging boob is not the look I was going for on my wedding day.
I’m trying really hard to keep things in perspective. Friday’s appointment was the first of two big appointments within the week and if one has to not go the way I want, I definitely want it to be the boob one. I have my other big appointment with my oncologist Dr. Frenette tomorrow. It’s my standard 6 month check up, but I’m going to be talking to him about when realistically I can stop taking my tamoxifen and have babies. I have a timeline in my head of how I want things to go, I just need to get him to agree with it….and him not agreeing with me on this topic is going to be a much bigger pill to swallow than Dr. Harper telling me I need 2 – 3 more surgeries. Stay tuned!
Photos from 126 post chemo are below…