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Help with decision on breast reconstruction

MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
edited November 2020 in General discussion
Hi, 
Last February in Townsville I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was not in the nodes, but had spread from the ducts. Because of COVid19 I had three lots of surgery in March. The first was a lumpectomy, then the surgeon realised there was still some remaining in the breast so she went in a week later, removed the residue and transferred some tissue from the side of the breast to the front of the breast for aesthetic reasons. That surgery was not successful afterwards as the blood wasn't flowing as it should, so she went back in a week later to see if she could fix it, but did explain that the breast would have to be removed if she could not fix the problem. She took the breast. No chemo or radiation, and an excellent recovery. But no matter what I do I am always lopsided, and my new puppy has already put two holes in my prosthetic breast so I decided to look into a reconstruction next year. I went to see the reconstruction surgeon in Brisbane yesterday. He explained both options to me. I do not like the idea of implants, but the other option involves 7 or 8 hours of surgery. My concern is not that, but rather that I have a fat stomach, so I am wondering if he does the surgery that takes some skin and tissue from my lower abdomen, will I end up with a flat abdomen but still have the fat on my upper abdomen, (under my breasts). I am 65 years old in a couple of weeks. Hoping to speak to some-one who has had this surgery, so I can be clear in my mind that it will make me feel better not worse. 
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Comments

  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 5,149
    There's a private group on the forum that may help. 


    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/group/1-choosing-breast-reconstruction


    And there's another link for you to read
    https://www.reclaimyourcurves.org.au/




  • GlemmisGlemmis Member Posts: 339
    Hi @MaryAnneCarter, I had the exact surgery in February last year at 59. I had a double & my surgery was 12 hours. Whilst it was tough I am very happy with the outcome. My stomach was completely flat to start with & very tight but now has relaxed but I don’t have any fat or rolls on my upper abdomen. Where it can settle is on your hips (called dog ears) & some surgeons will suggest removing a bit of fat from there if you decide to have nipple reconstruction. I didn’t & went straight to tattooing. The surgeon should be able to answer all those questions & show you photos. As @iserbrown suggested join the reconstruction group & access more information & photos there.
  • MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
    Thank you very much for the confirmation of how it went, and how it ended up. I have joined the reconstruction group, just waiting for confirmation they have accepted me. I didn't think to ask the surgeon for some photo's, but that is what I need to see before I make my decision.
  • bell59bell59 MelbourneMember Posts: 18
    I  am 8 months on from  double diep flap reconstruction( 10 hr op.) Belly still tight and weird but am playing tennis ok. Although I downsized from D+ to small C, a high percentage of fat was taken as I am thin( just enough belly wobble after 2 kids to work with),  which may not be the case for you so more fat cells may be left in abdiminal area to fill out in future.  Your worry about your shape looking wrong/ uneven (I have upper abdomen fatty areas too) is familiar to me. Dont underestimate your body's desire to go back to normal.   For me, natural droopiness is returning to soften the look and a thin fat layer is appearing. ( I am nearly 62)  I look a bit changed not alot.Its true that other fatty areas may fill a bit instead if you put on weight. For me under arms beside implants seemed to thicken.   Dog ears /love handles may be handy for fat grafting ( adding liposuctioned fat later to finesse the final look up top). I would not have been happy with implants and their shorter lifespan and possible complications and my fatty boobs feel very natural. 
  • MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
    Thanks Bell59. I am 65, and do have a "baby belly" after having 3 children, so the surgeon would have plenty of fat to work with. After the mastectomy I ended up with a tummy that looks like the drain left an imprint where it sat around the middle of my tummy just above the belly button.. I suppose the drain pushes the fat around inside you, and it doesn't go back to normalwhich stays there even after the drain is removed? I am worried that what happened to the breast after the second surgery (necrosis?) will happen again with a diep flap reconstruction. The reconstruction surgeon did say that there is a small chance this could happen again, so that is very worrying to me, as it would mean having the diep flap undone, and all those scars for nothing. I am now leaning more towards the implant, but some-one in my craft group yesterday mentioned that a friend of hers said she has one new boob (implant) and a saggy old original boob. As my husband and I still "enjoy" each other it matters to me how I look naked for him. 
  • bell59bell59 MelbourneMember Posts: 18
    Sounds like you have had some cause to feel uncertain. You dont mention if first surgeon was fully qualified in plastics microsurgery  You want to have confidence in the surgeon for a diep flap as it is delicate work with blood vessels.  From what Ive seen/ read fat necrosis is rarer possibility and  most often at thinner edges of flap ( I had none) and can be re filled if necessary later. Thats so unfair for you to have that added stress. Either way it sounds like you will be needing several surgery steps to achieve the best look. Im sure I have browsed images that show how a natural breast can also  be altered to nicely match the implant side. The diep flap is a longer haul proposition initally for recovery time with several surgery sites but less likelihood of return to surgery for replacements in long term, which was my preference. good luck 
  • MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
    The surgeon who removed my cancer, then breast, was not a plastic surgeon, just a breast surgeon I think.. She actually phoned the breast reconstruction surgeon for advice once she saw the necrosis happening. He advised her to go back in immediately the next day and try and fix it, but she couldn't, hence the mastectomy. I feel guilty for even trying to have either of these procedures by the way, as I feel I should just be grateful that the cancer is gone, and I did not need chemo or radiation. I will have a look at some more implant surgery photo's, and do some more reading. Thank you again for your concern and advice. x
  • MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
    Hi everyone, I have just spoken to my breast surgeon's nurse, who was following up to see how my appointment with the breast reconstruction surgeon went. She confirmed it wasn't a Diep Flap that I had, but rather a Licap Flap, but the resullt was still that the blood flow wasn't getting through as it should have, hence the mastectomy. My reason for wanting the surgery in the first place is that no matter what I do I feel lopsided, and if I put the prosthetic into some of my bra's it slips out the bottom, or if I bend over to pick something up off the floor it falls out of the top of my clothing. So embarrassing. My 3 year old grandson asked me to get on the floor with him on Friday night to play with his toys. When getting up, the breast fell out of the bottom of the bra, and he wanted to grab it. I did purchase a couple of the special bra's but if they are in the washing I need to use my ordinary bra's. After studying everything, and looking at photo's  I am again leaning towards the Diep Flap Reconstruction with a tattoo nipple. You only have to have it done once, as opposed to the implant surgery. I will let you know what I decide soon, and stay in touch. Hope everyone stays well and happy. Mary x
  • MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
    Forgot to mention, I also found Breconda.....which helped immensely too.
  • FLCloverFLClover Sydney Member Posts: 1,443
    I’m glad you’re finding more information about it, and starting to make a final decision. All the best 🍀
  • MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
    I also found plenty of information/photo's on You Tube (who knew) and a list of questions to ask, so all good now thank you. I will come back once I have the surgery to let you all know how it went. Stay strong everyone. 
  • June1952June1952 Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 1,493
    Great find, @MaryAnneCarter
    Perhaps you could start a post with the list of questions to help those coming behind you.
    All the best.
  • MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
  • BlisterBlister Brisbane Member Posts: 65
    Good luck, hope it all goes well for you.  I'm sure the prosthesis would also feel uncomfortable in the Townsville heat and humidity in the Qld summer which is worse than our heat in Brisbane.
  • MacarterMacarter Member Posts: 18
    Hi Blister, yes it does tend to stick to me, and we are only just starting our really hot weather now. Thanks for the well wishes, I will come back and let you all know how it went.. Mary x
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