Decisions about Surgery

new_800new_800 Member Posts: 3
Hi - I'm facing a mastectomy following 6 months of chemo treatment and although treatment is now only weeks from finishing I'm still having trouble deciding on what type of reconstruction to have, if any. It will most likely be a 2 stage reconstruction with expander and implant as my options are limited but I'd love to hear from anyone on their experience with an expander followed by radio therapy. Thanks!


  • nikkidnikkid Member Posts: 1,238
    Hi @new_800, if you join the Breast Reconstruction Group ( ) you'll find loads of stories (written and images) about all different sorts of recons - from tissue expanders to implant; TRAM; DIEP Flap; PAP and Lat Dorsi etc. The group is really active and I am sure many of your questions can be answered by the wonderful women there.

    It is a closed group, so you have to request to join it :).
  • new_800new_800 Member Posts: 3
    Thanks @nikkid, I will do that! Much appreciated.
  • KatWKatW Member Posts: 5
    Hi @new_800. I found the surgery decision process really hard. I wasn't really sure what to do with reconstruction but just trusting my surgeons recommendations. My plan is to have a mastectomy with TUG flap reconstruction in October. I'm at the stage where I just want it over and done with but finishing off radiation and then have to let my skin recover. I'd definitely recommend looking at the beast reconstruction group too, as it is a great support tool.
  • melclaritymelclarity Member Posts: 3,078
    @new_800 I actually had no idea of what reconstruction so I waited to see my Plastic Surgeon for his opinion. As I had a recurrence I was having a mastectomy and reconstruction, however I had no options but a Diep Flap as Id had radiation in 2011 and the skin was too damaged for an implant that he prefers diep flap in that situation. So I had that done in Feb of this year, as Nikki said if you join the Breast Reconstruction Group you'll have access to all sorts of photo stories for reconstructions. xx Melinda 
  • UnicornkissesUnicornkisses Central CoastMember Posts: 395
    I was offered a simple mastectomy with just a straight scar or a skin sparing mastectomy with expander, followed by DIEP flap reconstruction.
    The surgeon said the radiation I had to have would mean the expander would have to be replaced afterwards, and warned that the skin may be damaged too much by radiation to be able to be used in the DIEP reconstruction.
    I weighed up the fors and against.
    Simple mastectomy - shorter op, shorter time in hospital, less risk of infection, shorter recovery time. No issues with an uncomfortable expander, no extra op if expander needed changing.
    Skin sparing mastectomy with expander - come out with a breast mound, no need for prosthesis, can wear ordinary bras and clothing not an issue, longer time in surgery, more chance of infection, longer time in hospital, longer recovery time. More natural skin available for DIEP flap as long as it wasn't damaged by radiation.
    I chose the simple mastectomy. 3 nights in hospital, breast drain out on day 3, axilla drain out on day 10. No problems sleeping but can't sleep on my right side, left okay.
    The wound is healing well, I am two weeks from surgery.
    It is really obvious, more than I expected, if you are not wearing a soft form on the mastectomy side.
    My soft form still hasn't arrived and I am too sore to wear any other type of padding. So I have to wear a scarf to cover that side.
    The wound is rather confronting, it is rather lumpy at the moment, and a little concave in places, not flat as I expected. That may get better when the swelling goes down under my arm.
    It is a bit off putting to my husband to look at, and that might have been better with a skin sparing mastectomy and expander. 
    We are both just going to have to get used to it.
    Mastectomy bras are expensive, rarely on sale, limited in style, colour and availability, and in my case, are rubbing on the wound at the moment.
    I still think I made the right decision for me though, in spite of the tantrums when I have to look at bras.
    I think I am going to have a DIEP flap in about a year. I can't have an implant even if I wanted one as I have to have radiation and my surgeon does not recommend it.

    I hope my decision process might help you go through your own and come to a conclusion that suits you. 
  • Cynth6Cynth6 Member Posts: 188
    I'm also going to the next stage next month. Just 2 weeks left of chemo and then surgery. 
    I'm having a double mastectomy with immediate implants or expanders. I want bigger boobies so I'm prepared to have 3 surgeries if I have to. If the surgeon has to put my size implants in and then second surrgety to exchange to expanders and then third surgery to exchange to bigger implants..then so be it. 
    I'll also be having radiotherapy about end of October. 
    all the best for your journey xx
  • new_800new_800 Member Posts: 3
    Thanks everyone, I've now joined the choosing breast reconstruction group but have only started wading through all the information there. My decision is becoming clear and I think will be definite pretty soon... it has to be!! I appreciate all your comments xx
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