My final surgery has finally come and gone and I’m ‘in balance.’ I decided on saline implants and am very happy with my decision. My PS did a fantastic job matching sides; I knew it would not look perfect, but was hoping for good results and got them. Just prior to surgery my chest was marked up with blue Sharpe pen lines, arrows and measurements as the road map to symmetry. The surgery took just under two hours and the team took incredible care of me.
The procedure for Stage 2 reconstruction is to take out the expander (shown to the right on the left side of the photograph) in my left breast and replace it with the permanent saline implant (a silicone permanent is shown above, but you get the idea). The surgeon cuts along the same scar from previous surgery/ies to avoid creating a new scar. There are three profiles of implants – low, medium and high, depending on how wide your chest is and the look you are wanting. I opted for medium profile as I’ve got a broad “swimmers” chest. Once the left side was complete, Dr. Ferlmann then moved to my right breast. The mastectomy took out 150 grams of breast tissue on my left side, so he used that as the number for what my right breast was. He put in a 300 gram implant, so the remainder is adding 150 to my right side. A three inch incision was made under my right breast, which should not be noticeable in the future where Dr. F was able to insert the implant and carefully place it under my pectorals muscle. At this point in the procedure, I was propped up to the sitting position on the operating table and the nurses give instruction to further fine tune the symmetry – a bit to the left, up, over or ‘too big’ or ‘too little,’ though I’m glad I didn’t remember this part. I just told him I didn’t want to look like Dolly Parton. That is a lot of faith you put in your PS, so pick one you like and can trust!
When the procedure was over, I was in recovery for about 30 minutes, then wheeled to a room for another 90 minutes until my head cleared and I could tolerate crackers, water and apple juice. Seven hours after I had arrived at the hospital, I was wheeled out the door and into our waiting Honda Civic with pillow secured under the seatbelt for the drive home.
Writing this section post-op two days, I can tell you this surgery was so much easier on the body than the mastectomy (major surgery) and less invasive than the Stage 1 Reconstruction. I am now laying low and taking slow morning walks, but feel my range of motion is so much better after this surgery and the expander that was in place and binding in places (it was sewn into me in three places to keep it from moving) now allows my left pectoral muscle to move more freely.
As I mentioned on previous pages, most women opt to have the mastectomy and Stage 1 of reconstruction in the same surgery. If I had done all my tests, homework and knew who my PS was going to be, that is the path I would have chosen. But this road I traveled was right for me at the time and your decision will be right for you. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should feel or should be doing.
Next up was nipple and tattoo research. My goal to be completely done by the New Year, but little did I know healing takes longer than I had hoped.