Home Now what? The highs and lows of survivorship

Has anyone taken 'Before' and 'After' pics?

arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 6,245
Just wondering if anyone has taken 'before' and 'after' pics - focussing on the actual boob rather than 'me' ....... I took a couple of 'selfies' at the suggestion of my brother .... and then a few during the healing stage after removing the bandages ..... 

Do you think we should have a private group, to actually show our battle scars?  Obviously, some pics will be more confronting than others ..... but if you have to request to join to see them, no-one should be shocked.  

It would be a good way to see the results of many different procedures, I think.

But I LOVE what this woman's take on it was ...  a real warrior in full battle dress!!  Xena - Warrior Princess!  She went on to have a DMX



  • June1952June1952 Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 1,493
    I think ladies post photos in the reconstruction site and that is sufficient.
    I thought the above may have been your 'before' shots - until I read further ..... 
  • Emma17Emma17 Member Posts: 46
    edited September 2021
    @arpie, What would be the benefit of displays of Before and After photos, private group or not?

    As an aside, there seem to be more 'private' groups popping up on this forum. Breastcancer.org doesn't have private groups.
  • Julez1958Julez1958 SydneyMember Posts: 547
    Hi I am in the private group “choosing breast reconstruction” that has a number of members who have posted before and after photos and I found them very helpful.
    I am also in a DIEP flap re instruction Facebook group that was set up in the US that has a policy of not  photos but you can private message people .
    I personally found just looking at the photos on the private group here a lot easier.
    Lots of members don’t include their faces for privacy reasons.

  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 6,245
    edited September 2021
    hehe I wouldn't mind looking that good @June1952!!

    @Emma17 ... Not everyone has had major breast reconstruction or is in that one group that has before & after pics, so can't access them.

    Not everyone has as successful a healing as everyone else - maybe if they see the different results before hand, it may help them with their decision-making on what surgery they choose to have.  I have had some PMs where members have shown me their pics .... I found it interesting and instructive, as their surgery was far more extensive than my own.

    I would think that many women (newbies or not) may be interested in who's had 'what done' and can see how it has turned out.  Most haven't seen anything, until they wake up, post op & see their own.

    Hmmm ... I am Not sure what Breastcancer.org has to do with this forum - what they do is up to them  ....

    Yes, there have been more private groups started here in recent months, at the request of members who benefit from them.  And because the ARE private - intimate stuff can be shared with like minded people who want to join.  Which private group concerns you in particular & why?  It is not compulsory to join!

    As @Julez1958 says - Faces are not necessary - and only those wanting to join & look would do so - so there won't be any shocking pics that upset people - as some pics may be a tad confronting until full healing has occurred. 

    Some newbies may not be prepared for the immediate post op 'rawness' of their own wounds, but would be reassured at seeing the healed pics after a few weeks & a few months .... it may actually help their own mental recovery, knowing that it SHOULD get better, as I know that some members are not always happy with their post op 'look'.

    My own surgery was done by removing the nipple & the tumour removal done from underneath the skin, breast fat 'moved around' to fill the hole & then the nipple was reattached ..... Some may not be aware that this method may be an option (depending on where their cancer is located.)  My own healing has been terrific with minimal scarring and relatively normal nipple sensation.  

  • Emma17Emma17 Member Posts: 46
    edited September 2021
    @arpie I interpreted the tone, comment, and images in your post as your wanting a lighthearted 'show me yours and I'll show you mine' thread, a la Friday Funnies and A bit naughty - but funny!!!...some posts may offend'.  You have clarified the reason for your suggesting the thread.

    Your lumpectomy surgery is the standard-of-care by the highly trained oncoplastic breast surgeons of BreastSurgANZ..  Tumour excision and access to lymph nodes is via the area of the removed nipple.  The reduction mammoplasty is the 'plastic surgery' aspect, which fills in and reshapes the breast.  Access to lymph nodes is via the open nipple so this technique eliminates the underarm excisions that lesser-trained surgeons make in order to biopsy the lymph nodes.  Unfortunately, women in rural and regional areas are less likely to have access to a BreastSurgANZ surgeon so may attend a general surgeon instead, without these state-of-art skills.  Their cosmetic outcome may not be as good.

  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 890
    Hi @arpie, I took photos of my breasts all through my treatment but I probably wouldn't share widely but maybe I would consider sharing to someone privately if they had similar surgery and treatment etc. For me it was a personal journey. I am happy with how it all ended up. While I took photos all the way through i don't really go back and look at them. We are all different however so many some people would be happy to do that.
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 6,245
    That Sounds a terrific alternative too, @Cath62  Like you, I don't go back to look at my pics, but I DID take quite a few over the first 12 months or so in particular.  Maybe I should take some current ones, as my Rad Onc (2 years ago) reckoned she almost couldn't even tell which breast had been operated on last time she saw me (I had a phone link last year with her locum) - it had healed up so well!  LOL. (Still pretty obvious to me, tho!)  I see her again in a few weeks.
  • AllyJayAllyJay Member Posts: 885
    @June1952...There are some members who have remained flat, either by choice or circumstance. I think that for some who have yet to have surgery, and who are 'on the fence' as it were, about reconstruction, may find it informative as to what an unreconstructed chest might look like, particularly after some time has elapsed, to see what they could expect. It seems to me that it's almost an expectation that people go down the reconstruction path, and for them, they can access before, during and after pictures. For us flatties...zip.
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,977
    The most recent figure I can find for breast reconstruction in Australia is about 18%. Even if it’s a bit higher, it means that about 75% don’t follow that path, for a whole bag of reasons. Some recognition of that percentage might be useful - some are happy with that situation, some are really unhappy, some have to wait an eternity, some just don’t want more surgery. But it’s still a lot of people. 
  • June1952June1952 Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 1,493
    edited September 2021
    @AllyJay - there are lots of places to find 'flat' photos and some are even in the 'before' bits of the reconstruction group.
    Apart from location and financial means, it can also depend on how extensive the cancer and proposed surgery as to what may be required.  Add to that the surgeon's preferences !  Some women may look at photos and be looking at what has nothing to do with their specific situation.
    The surgeon should be able to provide photo of his/her previous work.
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 6,245
    Very fair point about the 'flatties', @AllyJay - I think it would be advantageous for members to be able to see how a 'flattie' looks (and heals).... and how important it is to get a good surgeon, so that the best result can be 'expected', no matter the surgery choice.    I had always said myself, that if I had to, I would have a double & remain flat.  I was lucky & didn't have to.

    Yes, some regional women, sadly, are convinced to have their surgery done locally by a 'general surgeon' - when the visual results might NOT be the best as the surgeon may not have been trained in breast conserving surgery - and at worst, would preclude future reconstruction even if they wanted it ..... but I wasn't prepared to have a General Surgeon do MY surgery - so I chose to go to Sydney & have (who I consider) to be one of the best, do mine!  I am very happy with my own result.

    It upsets me to see posts where members (post op) are so very unhappy with their results & can't bear to look at their own bodies, or let their partner see them ...  when, if they'd had a REALLY informed decision about their surgery, they may have choses a different route with a better result.  :( 
  • AllyJayAllyJay Member Posts: 885
    Indeed there are plenty of places to find pictures of 'flat' persons, just as there are pages and pages of photos of reconstruction on the internet. Just google mastectomy reconstruction and click on images, and there is plenty to peruse. I do feel however, that the photo, without discussion with the person behind the photo, in a support group setting, is just that...a photo. Otherwise the argument could be made about reconstruction sub groups...they can just look up photos, sans context, dialogue and support within a group such as ours.
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 6,245
    Agree totally, @AllyJay - The pics on their own could scare the crap out of newbies (or even those having further or reconstructive surgery a year or more after their original surgery.)  Having the confidence to chat with someone who's brave enough to show their battle scars .... I think would empower them to help make their decisions.  And the ongoing support from those who've been thru it, here, and willing to share their knowledge & experience, is invaluable.
  • LocksleyLocksley Macedon Ranges, VictoriaMember Posts: 835
    I took before and after photos for my own mental health.  I had a single mastectomy but I didn't look up photos of mastectomy before or after surgery.  I was a  little scared to.  
  • ScorpionQueenScorpionQueen Wilton NSW Member Posts: 768
    edited October 2021
    I had a bilateral mastectomy with expanders.....8 months after implant transfer I contracted strep b infection and was in hospital for three weeks and on antibiotics for nearly 6 months...I am now ‘flat’...we’ll actually concave as I have lymphodema in my chest and arms and my mastectomy scars have no tissue left under them and sit directly over my rib bones. It took me a long time to accept this new look, and I can now look without disgust, 

     I have a private group on Facebook....I realised I had a number of friends who wanted to ‘see’ but were too afraid in person...I posted my whole experience in photos...up until present day...the good, the bad and the ugly...ALL responses were positive as it was also a learning curve for those who aren’t effected. A lot of people have praised me for ‘showing’ them what it is really like. A lot thought, ‘oh they just take your boobs off and then put new ones in, easy!’ Ummmm, No! My blog showed that things can and do go wrong. It,s not all ‘pink’ and pretty.

    My blog and private group have saved at least three of my friends as they were prompted to get checked and as a result found their cancers early.I’ve printed it and plan to get it bound.

    i guess it’s a personal choice too,  and I understand that seeing pictures can be a trigger...I myself back away from here as I found it overwhelming, and I was nervous to see myself after the surgeries, but sharing our stories, warts and all, is important to spread the word about breast cancer and it’s possible complications.

    I plan on having a warriors and gods photo shoot to celebrate my 5 years. (Thanks to COVID I’m yet to do that) I have also been a part of a photo  shoot for a breast cancer survivors portfolio to create awareness. I found the whole process very empowering and it inspired the people involved to take charge of their own health. I now have lifelong friends from that experience.

    In conclusion, wether you take pics for you alone or share them in a group,

     i see it as an integral part of healing. 

    Don’t be ashamed of a scar....it simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.

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