So earlier this week I headed back up the hill to my plastic surgeon’s rooms to have number of stitches removed.
Ok, for fear of sounding a trifle over dramatic – I have to confess that there were in fact only two stitches in need of removal. But considering each one had to be removed from each of my thighs, by my reckoning, that should certainly be worthy of a better sounding story and count as more!
By now you would think that there would be very little that could make my toes curl, medically speaking of course. But somehow alongside my fairly “new” paranoia of needles is still my “old” squeamishness of stitches!
The fact that whole painless stitch removal process was over and done with before my toes could even contemplate curling, had more to do with the mad stitch removal skills of Sister Monica, than the pain killer I glugged down on my way up to the surgery! But “rather safe than look like a ninny”, I always say!
Dr B was very happy with the way things were healing, and with the overall appearance of my right radiated boob. She sent me off with the reassuring words that we could review the final aesthetic results in three months or so.
So what possibly could stitches in my thighs do with breast reconstruction you may ask? Well, even if you didn’t really ask, I will tell you. Cos I am proactive like that. 🙂
Ok so I should have perhaps mentioned earlier that this post comes with a TMI warning…. if you wouldn’t like to know about radiation fibrosis, man-made or rather woman-made nipples, fat harvesting and the like…stop reading NOW!
The whole nipple debate has been on my mind for quite a while. To do or not to do… has really always been the question. For many breast cancer survivors who have undergone breast reconstruction it is not necessary a given that they automatically choose to undergo nipple reconstruction as well. And there are many reasons for this, as I have discovered while talking to a few of them. For some it was the fear of the unknown, and what this permanent reality could and would look like. Some could not stomach the idea of another surgery and some couldn’t actually fathom the need for fake nipples. While some choose other less invasive options out there such as nipple and breast tattoos, some simply choose to remain nipple-less.
Radiated skin does not create the ideal environment for skin flaps to graft on to so Dr B wouldn’t consider starting the process until a year after I finished radiation. So although I have had a whole lot of time to think about it and after weighing up all sorts of pros and cons, I still hadn’t really come to an unequivocal conclusion about the nipple thing – was it necessary or in fact pointless 😉
I certainly had not been relishing the idea of another surgery! But like most things, time certainly helps cloud the memory. So a few months ago, on one particularly brave day, I made the decision to go and at least chat to her about the next possible chapter in my reconstruction process. I knew I could trust her to give me a realistic view on the best options available to me.
My biggest concern was my radiated boob. With its misshapen, shrink wrapped appearance which I spent my life massaging away from my thyroid, were nipples even a smart option?! On a good boob day my bionic boobs kinda looked a little lopsided but on really bad boob days they looked severely wonky, even in clothes! I had asked myself on countless bad boob occasions while staring into my bathroom mirror – how on earth could I even consider planting permanent, raised bull’s eyes on them?
And this was the exact dilemma I presented to Dr B when I met up with her a few weeks ago in her office. I was pretty sure the radiated boob had become encapsulated (something I had been warned could happen) and my fear was that the only way to rectify this condition was for her to re-open open the scars, clean out the offending thickened tissue and replace the implant. In fact I was braced for her to say just that when she suggested a completely different option.
Fat injections she explained could help soften the contracted tissue and possibly improve the blood supply acting somewhat like stem cells to help treat the radiation fibrosis. These incredible sounding fat cells would also add volume to parts of the bionic boob, giving it the similar rounded more natural look of my left boob compared to the sheared off cliff face appearance that the radiation had left it with.
The BEST part? The fat cells would come from my own body!
So with plenty of fat available to me I could even chose the part of my body the fat could be harvested from! After all, she smiled, there HAD to be some positives for us breast cancer ladies!
Finally, after initially being rejected by my medical aid, and after Dr B having to submit numerous motivational letters, graphic photos of my wonky boobs and with her even having to argue my case with their review board, we got the go-ahead. So two weeks ago I was booked into her new amazing Day Clinic and under an hour and a half of general anaesthetic , I had approximately 80mls of fat harvested from my thighs and injected into my boob.
So although there is still no talk of nipples for me just yet, already there has been a HUGE improvement to the overall look and feel of my radiated boob! And who knows what the future may bring – maybe a nipple or two?!
“Private victories precede public victories. You can’t invert that process any more than you can harvest a crop before you can plant it”. Stephen R. Covey
“Before the fruits of prosperity can come, the storms of life need to first bring the required rains of testing, which mixes with the seeds of wisdom to produce a mature harvest.” Lincoln Patz