I was really eager to see my surgeon again two weeks post exchange surgery. It was finally time to get the dressings off and to discuss where we go from here.
Removing the dressings, while not as nerve wracking as after my bilateral mastectomy, still made me a little nervous. I had been so happy with how well the scars had healed before this surgery – was that all going to be messed up now? Were the new incisions somehow going to be messy, or maybe they haven’t healed as well as they did previously? I was particularly worried because on my right side I could feel a long lump underneath the new incision.
I should not have worried, as the bandages came off I was pleased to see my surgeon has done yet another fabulous job and the new incisions are barely noticeable. There were still a couple of stitches that had to be trimmed back, but that was all. (The stitches are dissolvable, but a few ends were sticking out)The lump I could feel is apparently normal and should go away in time. maybe it was there last time but I’ve forgotten it.
In the photo below the new incision starts closest to my arm and is about two inches long. There’s not much of a difference from where it ends and the original scar starts. (You can also see the mark going towards my back from the very tight bra I’m wearing)
Overall I have been really pleased with my surgeon and I would whole-heartedly recommend him. If you are in Adelaide, Australia and want his details, feel free to contact me.
It was nice to hear him say things like “You’ve had the best reconstruction results ever!” and “Everything with you was just textbook perfect”.
We again went over the surgery and he confirmed I had Mentor Round High Profile implants put in, just like the ones below (although mine are only 415ml). He also reminded me that these implants come with no risk of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) which can be caused by textured implants. This is of course important, but I hadn’t been overly concerned since the risks were very low anyway. Most of the implants that are suspected of causing it have been removed from the market.
The discussion moved on to my restrictions for the next few weeks. Until the six week mark I have to continue to keep my arms down and not to lift anything more than 2kg. I am finding this increasingly difficult because I now have no pain, not even a slight pulling sensation even when I raise my arms right above my head. I reached up and got something down from the cupboard about my fridge and didn’t even realise I had done it until I went to put it back again. I have to also not do any running or other sports either. Walking is okay.
After the six week mark I can start running again if I want to, and I can also start doing some light weights to increase the strength in my pectoral muscles again. I can tell they are so weak. Even before this last surgery things like opening the lids of jars or pushing down hard when mopping the floors felt difficult. I am looking forward to this especially since due to the Covid-19 restrictions my daughter has set up a home gym, so it will be easy for me to get back into it.
I still have to wear the really tight post-surgical bra for another three months (at least). While I understand why and will do it, I am finding these bras incredibly uncomfortable. For some reason they are pushing on my rib cage on the right hand side below my breast and my ribs feel bruised. I am wondering if it is causing Costochondritis, inflammation of the rib cartilage. I’ve had it before in the same area, but that time it was caused by excessive coughing (I thought I’d broken a rib!).
The cure then was simply time, so I am hoping my ribs will get used to the pressure and get over it. It does already seem to be a little better than it was a few days ago. The bra though is fantastic at the job it’s meant to be doing – keeping my boobs supported and in the right position to allow them to heal nicely.
I don’t have to go back and see my surgeon again for three months. By then, hopefully all the restrictions on elective surgery due to the corona virus will be lifted and I can move onto the next phase, nipples.
I briefly chatted to my surgeon about it this time and confirmed the way he does the surgery does not involve skin grafts or anything too invasive, so I will likely go ahead with having nipples surgically created, then tattooed to give the colour. That will then be the final step in the reconstruction process and, as my surgeon says, I should look finished!
Over the next three months I will test out some of the less permanent methods of having nipples to see how I feel about them. I already have some temporary tattoos given to me by the breast care nurses, and I am looking into prosthetic nipples I have seen on Amazon. I will let you know how they go in a future blog 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 addressed, but sometimes they can be too much. In fact sometimes they can be 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 >>
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