Bilateral Mastectomy Pictures

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As I have been going through my breast cancer experience over the last year, I have found comfort and motivation in sharing my story with you all.  This post will show my bilateral mastectomy pictures from start to finish, all in the one post.

Have you joined a breast cancer support group on Facebook but been completely overwhelmed by some of the posts? It’s fantastic that these groups are an open forum and all sorts of questions, worries and issues are address, but sometimes they can be too much, in fact downright scary.

If you would still like to join a support group on Facebook but not be faced with some of the scarier aspects when you don’t want to see them, come and join Positive Breast Cancer Stories. Here we share positive stories, celebrate milestones and encourage each other rather than deal with the technical information.

I know that when I was first diagnosed and still in that phase of trying to decide on the best treatment for me, I couldn’t get my hands on enough information. My favourite thing to read was the personal stories. Sure, medical opinions are important, but they miss the personal touch, how women who are going through this REALLY feel. Results are often glossed over, or there’s just so much medical jargon it’s impossible to understand. I am not a medical professional, this is just my story, from my perspective, with my opinions. (Please check anything I say with your own doctors to see if it suits your situation. Everyone of us is different)

All the photos in this post can be found in other posts on my blog, but I wanted to bring them all together in one post, particularly to share with newly diagnosed women who want to see the steps from start to finish. I often shared my photos on Facebook too, but tighter restrictions has made that impossible, so to be able to give one link will be more helpful.

If you haven’t read my whole blog (yet ๐Ÿ™‚)  then here’s the quick version of my diagnosis and treatment.

I found a lump! My GP sent me for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. Nothing showed on the mammogram or ultrasound (I have dense breasts, do you?) and the biopsy came back as inconclusive. There were some bad cells, they just weren’t sure if they were cancer or a papillary lesion. I chose to have the lump removed surgically, and it was after that, in October 2019, that I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). I did not have clear margins so would need another surgery.

This time I chose a bilateral mastectomy (DMX), and started immediate reconstruction with expanders. You can read about my decision here. I had my DMX in December 2019. From there everything went smoothly. Exchange surgery to UTM (under the muscle) implants was in April 2020 and I had my nipples reconstructed in August 2020. I had my nipple tattoos done over two sessions in January/February 2021.

My Bilateral Mastectomy Pictures

I didn’t take any photos after the lumpectomy – there really wasn’t much to see. My incision was around the edge of my areola and therefore was almost invisible. I didn’t have any bruising or visible external signs, and by the time the bandages came off two weeks after surgery it was like I had never had surgery. At certain angles a dent could be seen in my boob where the tissue had been removed, and perhaps my cleavage (what little there was!) wasn’t quite so defined, but it wasn’t obvious and didn’t bother me at all.

This photo below was about two hours after I came out of theatre after my bilateral mastectomy. I was surprised and very happy to see that I wasn’t flat. I had known my surgeon would partially fill the expanders, but I had seen so many other people with partially filled expanders that still looked flat, and that’s what I was expecting. (The  pink stuff is the disinfectant my surgeon likes to liberally splash around as you will see after each surgery. The black is the Texta he used to draw on me.)

This is about 36 hours post-op. I wasn’t allowed to shower, but I had been able to clean a lot of the pink and black off of me by now. The tape on each side below my boobs is where my drains are coming out of my body, two on each side.

Now I am at four weeks post mastectomy. The scars are healing nicely. I was using Bio Oil on them twice a day.

I had my first expander fill done at around the six week mark. I then had two more fills done at two week intervals. I had 50ml added each time. I don’t think there is a huge amount of difference, but there is definitely more fullness at the sides and even the cleavage looks more pronounced.

About six weeks after my final fill I was ready for my exchange surgery where the expanders were taken out and implants were put in. This surgery was actually brought forward so I could have it before the covid-19 restrictions on elective surgery commenced. I was the last elective patient my surgeon operated on for weeks. This photo was taken just after I came back from surgery.

This photo was taken 24 hours later.

My next surgery was five months later in August. I had my nipples reconstructed and my left implant was swapped for one 50cc bigger. That side (the one on the right as you look at the above photo) was visibly smaller than the other once the implants settled into place. I probably would not have worried about getting it fixed, but my surgeon suggested it since I was going in for the nipples anyway. Now my implants are 415cc on the right and 465cc on the left.

This photo was again taken immediately after the surgery. The black spots are not blood, but holes cut in the gauze to protect my new nipples.

Two weeks later the dressings came off. My new nipples were not pretty. I knew they wouldn’t be at the start, and that over time they would shrink, but they were still quite shocking to see. 

The next photo was taken exactly one year after my double mastectomy, almost four months after my nipple reconstruction. My boobs are by no means perfect, but this is a relatively good reconstructive result and I am okay with them. I will be even more okay as my scars loose their redness entirely.

Here’s a side on view. My nipples are just big enough to have some projection without being so big that they are obvious in all my clothes. 

I think now my boobs look much better in a bikini. I don’t even mind that the scars show a little.

Even though I was finished all of my surgeries, I was not quite finished. Next up was nipple tattoos! Or to be more precise, areola tattoos. These will add colour and be the final finishing touch! I had to wait at least three months after the nipple reconstruction to do this.

The tattoos are done in two stages. The first stage is adding a base layer of colour. The photos below were taken before and after the first session.

This is right before the tattoos were done. I was worried my scars might still be too red, but they were okay

At the end of the first session. The colour is about 50% darker now than it will end up.

The second stage of tattooing was done about five weeks later. The colour had faded significantly before this sitting. Now it would be built up again and a few little 3D elements added.

And right after the second session of tattooing. Again these are a little darker than they will end up, but no where near as bad as they were after the first session.

I will give these a few weeks to settle fully, and then add one final photo. Finally, seventeen months after this all began, my reconstruction is complete!

Want to read more of my story? Here are some of the key posts

If you are just starting on this journey yourself, here are some other posts that may be of help to you

Are you facing a bilateral mastectomy and feeling scared and unsure? The best thing to do is to learn as much as you can. Here are my bilateral mastectomy pictures so you have an idea what to expect. #bilateralmastectomy #cancer #breastcancer

Comments

  1. Deirdre says:

    Great idea. Facebook is dreadful for taking down photos. I did immediate implants but in 6 weeks doing Diep as I now can. Might do the same for others Tks Dee

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Thanks Deirdre. Good luck with your surgery.

  2. Sally Olsen says:

    Your story was one of the best I’ve read. Well written and factual without all the drama that is upsetting to read sometimes. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Thank you Sally. I try really hard to keep it exactly like that! I want to provide information and reassurance that this isn’t always as bad as we make it in our minds beforehand.

  3. Angi Chelin says:

    Thank you Josie for your well written journey. I also had my DMX Dec 2019. My expanders were not filled initially. So I woke up totally flat. I went for 14 fills to get to the size I wanted. (About your size) oh I also had one boob much bigger than the other. I had my exchange end July 2020. I canceled my fat grafting(Nov 2020) and nipple reconstruction which was booked for mid Jan 2020. Due to covid. I just can’t go back into hospital yet. Our hospitals are overflowing. I might just go for a tattoo and forget the nipple reconstruction. The problem i have is, my PS did a skin graph on the side of my breasts, where she will make nipples and areolas. So I will decide what to do in a couple of months. But leaning towards tattoos. Best of luck with your journey. Be well and safe๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿค—

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Thank you Angi. Good luck with what you choose, it’s such a hard decision.

  4. Kelli says:

    Thank you for sharing. Exchange for me in 2 days! I’m excited and nervous. So ready for this journey to be over.

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Good luck Kelli ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Christie says:

    Thank you for your story. Very similar story to mine, I am at the stage of deciding on a DMX. Your reconstruction looks amazing, esp the nipple tattoos, this gives me hope thank you.

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Thank you Christie. Good luck with your DMX ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Jeannine says:

    Josie, my friend, thank you for this post. A friend is just starting her journey through a DMX, and seeing your surgical results has given her hope for what sheโ€™ll find at the end of her path. Gee youโ€™re a brave one. And so is she.
    ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Good luck to your friend through her treatment.

  7. Julie D. says:

    Julie here, from the good, old US of A. I was just diagnosed last month and I’ve been told I am not a candidate for immediate reconstruction. Also, I will go home the same day as the surgery. Insurance here considers a mastectomy to be day surgery.

    Thank you for posting pictures. Most of the pictures I’ve seen are distressing and seriously unattractive. It’s very helpful to see chronological pictures of the reconstruction progress and that reconstructed breast can look like something other than organic breast forms. Thank you again.

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Thank you Julie. It always blows my mind to hear that a DMX is considered day surgery in the US. I kind of understand with covid at the moment, but boy, that must make if so much more stressful. Good luck with your treatment.

  8. Megan says:

    Hi Josie Thank you for sharing it is very helpful. Would you mind telling me your final bra size. And possibly height weight? Your outcome looks fabulous ๐Ÿ˜Š

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      No worries. I’m not sure where you are for the right units, so I will go with what we use here in Australia – I am now a 10E bra size (I know that’s 32DDD in the US). I started as a 10C/D. I don’t feel all that much bigger, just more “solid” and less “saggy” if that makes sense. I am about 5’6″ tall, and weigh 60kg. I have a tiny frame though with very narrow shoulders.

  9. Di says:

    Thank you for sharing. It is nice to see how things can progress. I had a DMX 12/1/21 and am still completely flat. No expanders put in as I live regionally and it is not offered here. Iโ€™m now being told that I have to allow at least a year for my scars to heal before the surgeons will even consider referring me to a PS in Brisbane. It is messing with my head a little. I am grateful to still be alive (stage 2 grade 3 TNBC with no node involvement) and can wait of course, but I would love to have breasts again (and my partner would like it too just quietly ๐Ÿ˜‚). Thanks again. I never considered nipple reconstruction but after looking at your photos it may just be an option for me now ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Thanks Di. I hope something can be sorted out for you sooner than a year. Living regionally can be difficult sometimes. (I grew up in a remote area and my parents still live in the country so I know the difficulties) Good luck.

  10. Mary Jo Olsavsky says:

    Could you please tell me what they used for your nipples? I recently had a DMX and there was no nipple left. I was thinking they could use my labia …. I donโ€™t know but your looks fantastic!

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Hi Mary Jo – they only used the skin from my breast, nothing is taken from elsewhere. There is a link in this post that shows you how it’s done. https://josiesjourney.com/nipple-reconstruction-the-decision-procedure/

  11. Kim Harding says:

    Hi Josie, I just wanted to reach out and thank you for your courage and candor in sharing your journey. I am almost exactly one year behind you as I was diagnosed in November 2020. Biopsy showed DCIS in left breast. I opted for skin sparing DMX which took place on February 18,2021. After multiple fills my exchange is scheduled for next Thursday,May 27th. Because of your posts my journey has been less stressful. My experiences have closely followed yours and having your posts has helped reduce my anxiety. Knowing that someone else has made it through this with positive outcomes has really been a huge help for which I canโ€™t thank you enough. Obviously I canโ€™t wait for these expanders to be removed and hope I look as great as you do. It is certainly amazing to me that a kindred spirit halfway around the world without even knowing me has been such a calming voice in this new experience. It has given me courage and confidence that I have made the best choice for myself. I too was very lucky to not need chemo or radiation so like yourself , will heal and move on from this stronger and more grateful for life than before. I wish you all the best and many happy healthy years ahead with your family. Kim Harding

    1. Josie Kelsh says:

      Oh my goodness Kim, you’ve made me a little teary with your kind words. Knowing that I have helped someone else gives this whole disaster meaning! Good luck with your exchange – it’s all onwards and upwards from here!

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