One Year Post Breast Reconstruction Surgery………

This weekend marked the one year anniversary of my implant surgery, and almost 16 months post mastectomy.
And although I don’t post anything about this these days, as in there’s nothing really to write about, I thought I should put an update for those who have found/follow the blog just for that topic.

So, what has happened in the past year and am I happy with the implants?
(aka ‘the foobs’ as in Fake boobs)

Well the past year has been pretty uneventful.
All previous check ups were normal, no complications and healing went very well, even better than expected, as I continued smoking throughout.
(I know, my bad)
I did the implant massage as directed….(moving the implants up, down, side to side to keep the ‘pockets’ free from scar tissue enveloping the implants and causing a rock hard chest that would require corrective surgery) and so have an almost natural feeling chest.
Oh and I did develop a frozen shoulder a few months after the last surgery, that required me to see a specialist and get a cortisone shot…which I will say worked liked a charm, but other than that, the healing process went smoothly.

Now, on to today…
There are a few things that really bother me, some I wish I had known before hand and a couple that were expected, or at least I was forewarned about.

First of all, I still have zero feeling in the skin surrounding the implant.
Although I do sometimes feel an itch or burning sensation beneath the skin.
Muscle maybe?
I know some people have said they get some of the feeling back over time, and some never do.
I’m assuming that I fall in the latter category as there is absolutely nothing whatsoever.

The second thing….the scar!
I HATE it!!
At first, I couldn’t/wouldn’t look at it.
Which was not a good thing as I was supposed to check it’s healing and look for signs of infection. But I guess I didn’t really think about that.
I kept it clean, changed the dressings, but unless I was face on in the mirror, I didn’t actually ‘look’ at it.
Those huge ‘slash marks’ across my chest in the first months, were at times a little too much for me.
These days it’s not so bad. I still hate it, no change there….but now I hate it for different reasons.
I’m no longer bothered about seeing it, and it has faded somewhat, but now I just don’t like how it shows through clothing.
It’s like a huge crease across my chest….it dips in a little, so if I wear a tight fitting top…it’s noticeable. VERY noticeable.
I was unaware of this at first, because looking down at my chest, the scar is just below the line of sight, so I would go braless in just a tank tee and think it looked fine.
Even looking in the mirror doesn’t show that ‘crease’. It wasn’t until I had a photo taken at the beach late last summer that I became painfully aware of how really, really bad it looked. I don’t know if this will go in time as the scar tissue around the incision line softens, as it has done in some places. I certainly hope it does.

Third thing….implants don’t change size (nothing like stating the obvious)….but unfortunately, the rest of the body does.
I can only speak for the type of surgery I had….and I don’t know if different methods have differing results, but having the implants placed behind the pectoral muscles and then gaining a few upper body pounds is not a pretty sight.

Some of this is due to the actual surgery. My plastic surgeon had to close up the left side muscle to keep the implant in place, but left the right side open to heal naturally.
Result after gaining a little weight…one round and nicely shaped foob, one not so round and odd shaped foob.

Now, being behind the pecs, I find that pretty much any movement I make flexes the muscles and lifts the implant…sometimes individually, which is great if you want a new party trick…Arnold Schwarzenegger eat your heart out baby!….however, there’s also a downside….
Imagine inflating a balloon…and wrapping said balloon in fabric so its nicely covered. Now slowly deflate the balloon…the fabric drapes and ripples and folds.
Yup, there you have it….
That extra fat you (more to the point ‘I’) just deposited on your (my) upper body ripples and drapes and folds at the sides when your muscle flexes over the non growing implant.
Like I said…not pretty.

Another thing I’ve found is … wearing a bra hurts.
This could be just me, but although the skin on the front of my chest has no feeling in it, the skin surrounding it seems to be hyper sensitive in parts.
Wearing a bra, even a light fitting one, feels like it digs in to those places and causes pain.
And on the subject of bras. Pain aside, I find trying to wear one with no feeling up front is difficult. I’m constantly self conscious as to whether its actually on correctly.
So, unless it’s a sport bra, I tend to just put a cami on under clothing and remain braless.

Lastly, and this is something I’ve noticed more and more just recently, if I bend over to pick something up, reach in a low cupboard etc. It feels as if the implants have moved slightly upward and feel tight and uncomfortable.
I feel that I have to push them back down, although they don’t actually seem to have moved at all.
I guess I will be mentioning this to my PS when I go for my yearly check up at the end of the month.

Well that’s about it. Nothing major, just little observations and gripes.

So, in answer to my own question, ‘Am I happy with the implants?’
Yes and No!
I’m happy that I have some shape to my chest, but sometimes I wonder if I would really be that bothered if I didn’t and was it really worth it.
I guess I’m glad I’ve seen the ‘greener side of the fence, so that if there’s ever a time I have to have them replaced, I know what I would/wouldn’t be missing.

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5 Responses to One Year Post Breast Reconstruction Surgery………

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Tracey! Thanks for the update!! I forget did you get silicone or saline? I got saline (b/c I didn’t want MRI’s for the rest of my life), and I got no instruction on massages. Also, I went to the Breast Center after all was said and done, and apparently we still have to do breast exams!!! Whhhaaattt?? The surgeon said it was up to me. I told her I was done. See ya.

    As far as the scar. That was the only thing standing in my way. I didn’t want to take a shower, and regret removing something I have seen for years. I would be different, and didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle it. Seeing something fake and disformed for the rest of my life. But I am happy with my decision. The scars don’t intimidate me…they don’t define me. I don’t consider myself a breast cancer survivor. I did what I did what is right for me. We made a decision for a reason.

    I had done some research before hand, which made me ask my PS if my implants would be under or over my muscles. He said they would be over. Why are yours under?

    I still wear sports bras…I don’t know if I’m scared to try on new bras, or the sports bras are more comfortable (aka security blanket), idk. Granted, I was never endowed. I was a double A at best. I’m a little bigger now.

    Any way..let us know how it goes at the PS. I have my first yearly appointment in September.

    ohhhh!!! I don’t know if I missed this post, but did you ever get the BRAC test? I remember you mentioning it. about your daughter was suppose to get it, but you would be the best candidate to get it…did anyone get the test?

    God Bless!
    Sarah

    Like

    • Tracey says:

      Hey Sarah,
      I had silicone, after weighing up the pro’s and cons of each, we figured they were the best choice for me. I was worried that the saline ones might burst if I got elbowed in the ‘foobs’ by one of my grandkids…LOL
      Its amazing what they don’t tell you right off the bat, isn’t it?
      Im not looking forward to the MRI’s, and might skip one or two here and there 😉
      It’s weird that you say you don’t consider yourself a breast cancer survivor….I actually get embarrassed when I’m referred to that way.
      It’s like, I didn’t really ‘fight’ anything…I got cancer, they took everything away, I’m now cancer free…done! Finished! I didn’t fight…I gave in.
      The reason mine are under the pecs is because 100% of the breast tissue was removed, which only left the skin above the muscle. Apparently they can’t put the implants below just skin, theres a risk of them breaking through the skin (I think thats what the PS said).
      So they either go below the pecs, or they bring tissue from the stomach, or back to make the ‘pockets’. I wasn’t a candidate for either the other two options, so pecs it was.
      I still prefer braless where possible, I find sports bras give me a unifoob look LOL
      I never did get the test.
      My PCP was going to refer me to the genetics department to see if they would agree to one, but you know, I’m pretty tired of hospitals right now, so maybe at some other time.
      Good luck at your follow up, I’ll let you know how I get on, if there’s anything to tell 🙂

      Like

  2. Wow! That’s quite a post. I’m writing a book on the subject of the choices women have to make (often on short noticed) when confronted with a breast diagnosis. This kind of rumination — “what I wish I’d known” — would be very useful for the proposed readers. I would love to interview you, if you have time and would like to help out. You can reach me at vicky [at] the copyeditorsdesk.com .

    Thanks for posting this thoughtful and interesting reflection.

    Like

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