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Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 2002

I am going to be facing a decision as to what type of reconstruction to do. I have read a LOT but want to hear from people who have had it done. I wonder why you made the decisions you did, and how satisfied you are with the outcomes.

lizaboy's picture
Posts: 35
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi I had tram flap reconstruction done in March this year. I did not want implants, this was just a personal thing somehow tram seemed the most 'natural'. I have absolutely no regrets with my choice. By the way I was also 47 at the time of my surgery. Hope this helps, good luck in whatever you decide
Love Liza

Posts: 931
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi! I also had a Tram Flap. It will be 2 years on Sept. 11. I wasn't given a choice but told this is what was to be. I'm just as happy I didn't have to make decisions. I wasn't in any state of mind at that point. I'm happy with the outcome. Feels like the other side. A bit smaller but I can live with that! Any questions, please e-mail me here or at RPT1206@aol.com. Good luck! HUGS!! Cathy

Posts: 150
Joined: Jun 2002

I am just now recovering for 2 weeks from my 2nd mastectomy with double reconstruction. I am using the Mentor tissue expanders. So far so good. I did not want to have the Tram flap. Ask your plastic surgeon to see lots of real photos of before and after. Good luck.

Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 2002

Dear Prayerangel:

God bless you. On email after 2 weeks!
I find the idea of the tram really scary, although I have heard from women who had it and are very positive about it.
How are you feeling?

Did you have one mastectomy with no reconstruction to begin with?
How long was it between your two mastectomies?

My surgeon is recommending I have my right breast removed because of DCIS and I have my left also removed because of DCIS there is '93.
I am going for a second opinion, but may bave to face a bilateral as well.

I guess it is too early to tell if the implants feel ok.
Will they have to replace the tissue expander with a regular implant? Do you know if you are using saline or silicone?

Thank you.
It is so good to talk to women who have been through it!
Love, Lilly

Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 2002

Can you tell me more about the recovery from the tram flap? I too tend toward what is more natural, but I am scared to death of the abdominal incision and the way it looks in pictures I have seen, and also what I have read about the recovery is terrifying.
How was the recovery for you?
How is the abdominal incision?
Do you have impared muscle function/strength in your abdomen?

lizaboy's picture
Posts: 35
Joined: Apr 2002

Lilly I've sent a reply to your web page

Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2002

I had a tam flap double reconstruction done in May2001. The recovery is not very easy. I slept in a recliner for weeks upon end.I could not lay flat for months. Walking is very difficult. Baths and bathroom time are very very hard. I had to have someone with me for sometime to help out.I wish I had double implants instead. I don't have the stomach muscles and that is very difficult. Getting out of bed just sitting up is very hard. I have to hold on to something to help myself up. Bathtime is hard. I am scared I am going to fall in the tub gettign out.I would think on it before I made my mind up on it.Good Luck!!!

Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2002

Liza, how long did you take your body to feel "like itself" again....my cancer has taught me to be patient, and i know i'm still recuperating but would like to hear from others on length of uncomfortableness

Posts: 16
Joined: Jul 2002

Hi! I'm 36, 3kids, had a mastectomy & tram flap recon on June 20. It is truly amazing what plastic surgeons can do! I had very little pain, more discomfort than pain. I recooperated & healed very quickly. Still have a long way to go until the recon is finished, but so far I'm very pleased. If you do plan to have the surgery, make sure you get an epidural for the pain. Mine stayed in for 3 days, so I was pain free while in the hospital- also know you will be very numb in your entire torso for quite awhile. Not a terrible thing just strange. Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions! DorisFinn@msn.com

Posts: 46
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Lillyb,
I had double mastectomy with staged reconstruction. I had expanders then silicone implants. I did not have enough tissue to do a tram flap because I am thin. I am very happy with the results. I was 37 when diagnosed and wanted to look and feel as normal as possible. I am very glad I opted to go thru the reconstruction.
good luck with your decision. If you have any questions, send me an email!

Posts: 8
Joined: Sep 2002

Dear Trina:

Thanks so much for your reply.
I am so afraid of the tram flap proceedure, but I am getting some positive info on it from a number of folks who did it.
I have my consultaion with the recon surgeon on Monday coming, so I want to know what to ask.
I am possibly going to do a double mastectomy as well.
I did not know they used silicone. It sounds much better than saline.
Do they feel heavy? Or hard?
Why did you do a double? Was one prophylactic?
If you had sufficient tissue to do a tram would you have opted for that?

Sorry if this is too much.
I am sure you understand how mind boggling this all is, making this decision you will live with for the rest of your life, and you have 10 years on me!
I am so glad to hear you are happy with the results. it's very encouraging!
Best, Lilly

iris48's picture
Posts: 92
Joined: May 2002

Hello Trina,
I am also trying to decide which was to now go on my reconstruction. I've had a bilateral mastectomy and expanders since 8/21/01. Initially, I was discounting the silicone implants because they need replacing every 8 to 10 yrs. Now my plastic surgeon tells me that the back flap with a small implant could also require future surgery down the road, so he is advising me to consider the simplier surgery -silicone implants first and see if this works. If I can't deal with them, then he will consider the other back flap surgery but reminded me it could take from 4 1/2 to 6 hours on a surgical table and is a hard eight weeks healing. He is also involved with a study on the silicone implants. Have you heard anything recent on this?
How long was healing for you with the implants? Can you comfortably lie on your side? Have you been able to resume normal lifting and movement? How was the size determined??? Breasts come in all shapes, so how did you choose what you hoped you would eventually look like? Did your doc allow you to see his patient post op files?? Mine has finally agreed to show me something three weeks before my surgery. I would have emailed all this but couldn't figure out how to find you.
My head hurts with all this indecision.
Your comments will be very appreciated.

Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2004

Hello Trina,
I am a 51 year grand mother who has had breast cancer twice in the last two and a half years. After my second diagnosis of stage 2 cancer I opted to have a double mastectomy with immediate reconsatruction & removal of the nipples. i had the flaps from my back to cover the area where my nipples used to be. I have to say I also have fibromyalgia which causes me to be in pain all of the time. I had mega drugs & was not able to sleep on my back unless sitting up & could only turn on one side due to the sentinal node being take in my cancer free breast. I am a long time smoker & ask my plastic surgeon to give me option A & B in case option A failed. I am glad that I went with option A as I did have complications. The tissue the breat surgeon removed closest to the area where my nipple used to be turned black & the tissue died in spite of desperate attempts to keep it from happening by being in a hyperbaric chamber for about a week after my surgery. They expanded me & put skin graphs from my upper thigh to cover the dead tissue areas after removing it. My plastic surgeon has continued to add saline to my expander to over inflate me to streth my unaffected skin. I am currently on my 4th out of 6th chemo treatment which I have to say is very rough at the moment. I will go through 2 more surgeries after my cheom is over. I do not regret having a double mastectomy. I do not regret expanders or the reconstruction. I am going to celebrate my 30 year anniversary on the beach in Mexico in May. I am going to have my third surgery in June. He will then take out the sking graph areas. I will be small again & I will start being pumped up all over again until I get the desired size. The sailine implants will be inserted & the 4th surgery will be to build me a nipple from the existing flap brought from my back. I refuse to have a skin graph to create the areola. The skin graph site was far painful than anything I have ever endured. Later I will have the areola tatooed along with my nipple & hope to be done. My experience has taught me that every cancer & every reconstruction process is different as the horror stories you hear about having babies. I admit I was scaredwhen my breast tissue turned black & died but that was because I didn't know hat they were going to do to fix it. I have all the confidence in the world in my breast surgeon, my plastic surgeon. Ask lots of questions about the possibilities of complications & if they occur what your options will be with each surgery. I have also learned that I do not want the final boob size to be a 38e as they currently are. They are too big & bras are a pain to buy. Life is great & the fact that I had any size boobs when I woke up from the first surgery made me feel quite well. I had self esteem & still felt like a whole woman & for the most part I stiil do. They are gonna need some tweeking but all the feeling is gone so I anticipate the other 2 surgerys to be a breeze.

Good luck and God Bless you I am not trying to scare you but you must ask all possible questions, be informed. God Bless & good luck

martyzl's picture
Posts: 196
Joined: Jun 2002

Hello Lilly!

I am in the process of answering your email, trying to get some pics to you....

Everybody is different. Do what you feel most comfortable with, go with your gut. (Not literally, necessarily *wink*... I did and it's gone quite well now...) I toyed with the idea of implants but decided to go with the Tram as I had a very small "belly" left over from a laparoscopy 2yrs ago, so I could now spare the skin. The pro's and con's of Tram vs. Implants were weighed carefully, I talked to those who'd had each type and I read too much. I finally felt comfortable with the Tram... that and my husband was strongly in favour of it!

Read, read, read! (as you have) Then realize you cannot believe everything you read. *grin* Get the best plastic surgeon you can, research. Then follow your instincts, trust yourself.

As per pain, I didn't have any, to speak of... just major frustration at being "disabled" and having to rely on others for so much help and so many little things I'd taken for granted. In fact, I had them stop the Morphine by 8pm as I'd not had to use the "magic IV button" for several hours- I was out of recovery by about 5.30pm. (I didn't like what the morphine did to me, again, we are all different!) I used a homeopathic remedy called Arnica and got by fine with that. Do what is comfortable for you. If you need it, use it!

If you get a chance, trail back and you can read my prior posts about "Babette" (my Tram)... the surgery was July 22nd, '02- so it's likely in the past 4 or 5 pages.

I'll fill you in on details later.
Be well! You'll thrive. Know it.
Marty (the wordy)

Posts: 321
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi, I had a tram flap 3 yrs ago, was 55 at the time. Wanted my own tissue ( had plenty to spare) All healed very well, no pain to speak of, just a strange feeling and numbness. Somewhat disabled but that goes with it. Would do Tram flap again. Had no complications and I am happy with the results. Hope this helps, best wishes ....Emmi

Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2002

I have had a tam flap double recontruction and I wish I had had double implants instead. They remove your stomach muscles and you cannot do normal things you done in life. I have a hard time getting out of bed raising myself up.. Also getting out of the tub is hard. I can't mop very much, not that I miss that. Carrying laundry baskets is difficult. Simple things in life aren't so simple anymore. I stay upset all the time with myself because I have trouble doing that simple thing. Just think on it before you really make a decision and talk to your doctor about it. Listen to other women who have had reconstructions done also. good Luck!!!!

Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2004

I decided to have reconstrucion for several reasons. 1. I had breast cancer which was stage 1 and estrogen receptive. My doctor talked me into a lumpectomy & radiation at the time. The radiation brought on terrible menapause side effects that were unbearable. I went on estratest. Two & an half year later in less than 6 months I had stage 2 cancer reoccurance in my right nipple. The same breast that was previously affected. I had a double mastectomy even though my left breast was cancer free for 3 reasons. One Iwanted to have peace of mind that I wouldn't get cancer in my other breast. I also wanted to have symmetry of both breasts & less surgeries in the future. And 3 my mother had a radical mastectomy in her right brest at 43 years old. She was married at the time & her husband later died. I know even though she is a great warm lady she has let the surgery keep her from having another intimate relationship & the companionship she desires. 20t later in her other breast she had a lumpectomy at my insitance for calacium deposits which they say are precancerous. I am 51 & have been happile married for 30 years. I have a great life. I opted to have the flaps ffom my back brought around to the front. Even though I have had complications & am enduring chemo & 2 more surgeries after chemo I do not regret my decision to have the reconstruction.

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