Back to Square One :(

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…

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7 Responses to “Back to Square One :(”

  1. Kelly Schultz

    Nicole, hang in there. You’ve already made it over so many obstacles, this is just ONE MORE (well, 5 if you count the surgeries) to get over. I’m sure that its frustrating because there’s nothing worse than seeing your imperfection and knowing its there and just waiting for it to be fixed. Just remember that your Frankenboobie will NOT define you :) . You’re awesome and I’m sure your boobies are too!!! Lol :)

  2. Anonymous

    I am sorry you are having a hard time. Keep your chin up and remember to trust that God has plans for you…although His plans are often not ours…we will be praying for a peaceful appointment.

  3. kelli

    I totally understand what you are dealing with. I too am having a 4th surgery after my double mastectomy because my cancer boon, the one that was radiated, has skin that is not doing what it should. My next surgery is in two weeks. The doctor is removing the expander, cutting away the thin scar tissue skin (again) and using alloderm as well.

    I know how frustrated you are, and I will keep you in my prayers.

  4. Carol LaRegina

    hang in there sweetheart… I know what you are going through….. radiated skin may look normal but its not….. i have gone the exander route as well, gets a little uncomfortable at the end , but you can handle it. I had 7 surgeries after mastectomy , I have gone through a total of 11 surgeries dealing with reconstruction and nipple placements…. thinking good thoughts for you!!!!! write me anytime you have any questions!!

  5. Nicole bills

    Good luck on your next surgery Kelli!! I’d love to hear how things go and if you are happy with the results of the alloderm.

    Kelly and Carol – you are both very sweet and are always so encouraging. I truly appreciate all of your continued support :)

  6. Beth


    I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this near your wedding. Your hair looks beautiful and frankly I keep reviewing your photos to look forward to what my hair will look like as of a future month (you finished your chemo precisely two years before I did – so it like looking into a glass ball – thank you, thank you, thank you :) ). I am going through the expansion process right now and just finished my last expansion with standard expanders and I look a bit like I’m trying to get a role on Baywatch – not a good look for me. I’m not sure if your doctor suggested “anatomically correct expanders” (instead of the round ones like I have), but you might want to ask about them since the top and bottom of the expander can have a different amount of expansion. You may be a good candidate for this since your concern is really stretching the bottom of the right side. It may also avoid the way overstretched look that I’m dealing with right now. Whatever you and your doctors decide, you will make a beautiful bride. You are in my prayers. Thank you so much for your posts!!!

  7. Jayde


    I come to your page from time to time because you provide me with hope that one day I will have beautiful hair again. Mine is very curly now…much like yours was when it started growing back. Since you provided me with hope I wanted to give you some. I had my final reconstruction in December using Gummy Bear Implants and also had fat grafting at the same time. I love the result. The implants seem kinda hard at first, but they are already feeling softer. Also, the fat grafting really improved my overall look and I look better than I did before my double mastectomy. My doctor did a great job. I am very blessed though that my doctor is the one that invented the tissue expander and the one that invented the gummy bear implant. I am so thankful he did…because I think they help so many women!

    Anyway, I think you are making a great choice to go with the GBI. The fat grafting really works! The big chunk they had to remove to get clear margins when I had my mastectomy is TOTALLY gone and my boob looks perfectly normal and round again. :-) I prayed for you tonight that God would give you great boobs. Every newlywed should have great boobs.


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