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UPDATE: Upcoming Expander Exchange Surgery - What can I expect?

jessiesmom1's picture
jessiesmom1
Posts: 713
Joined: Jun 2010

Hello Pink Sisters,

On Monday June 13th I will be having the tissue expander in my right breast removed and replaced with an implant. My left breast will be reduced and lifted to match. This is all being done on an outpatient basis at the hospital. I know many of you have been through this and I was just wondering what your experiences were. Have you been happy with the result? What was the recovery like? Did you have surgical drains? How was your pain level? Did you have any problems moving your arms? What kind of undergarment did you wear home from the hospital and afterward? If I have left anything out you think might be useful please feel free to fill in the blanks. Thanks for reading. I am looking forward to your responses.

IRENE

UPDATE: On 6/13/2011 I had my expander exchange surgery. I ended up going with a textured,anatomical, saline implant. On the non-cancer side I had a reduction/lift. The reduced side looked pretty good and I retained sensation in the nipple. I was not particularly pleased with the reconstructed side. I completely lacked an infra-mammary fold (the crease under the breast) and developed a rock hard ridge of scar tissue. Over the course of the next 5 months I complained to the surgeon about the way it looked. He basically dismissed my concerns and said I would just have to live with it. I consulted 3 additional reconstructive surgeons as well as my general surgeon. The general surgeon rated the work done as a 4 out of 10! I chose a new surgeon and on 12/22/11 I had revision-reconstruction surgery done. This time I went with a smooth, round, gel implant. In addition, the new surgeon used a product called Strattice to give the implant more support. She said it acts as an "internal bra." The new implant looks great. I am pretty symmetrical now. When my 19 year old daughter was home for Spring Break we even went bra shopping - for the 1st time in 2 years. I will probably get the nipple/areola work done later this year.

I posted a negative review of my first plastic surgeon on Yelp. The following week I got an email from Yelp telling me that the surgeon asked them to remove my posting. They declined. That same day I got a Certified Letter from the surgeon telling me to take down the posting or he would sue me - basically a Cease & Desist letter. I chose to take the letter down because it would be more trouble than it is worth to defend against a Request for an Injunction or a lawsuit.

For all those whose reconstruction surgery is upcoming I wish you the best of luck.

IRENE

tigger99
Posts: 44
Joined: Aug 2009

Irene,

I'm sorry/surprised your surgeon and/or her staff did not answer your questions or tell you what to expect. For me, this outpatient surgery was easy peasy, a "non event" with the only inconvenience being getting over the anesthesia fatigue. I had a lift done on the other breast at the same time. Was back to work in 3 days, no pain, no drains, no problem moving arms, wore a surgical bra home that the hospital puts on me before I wake up from anesthesia. I was only allowed to lift/push/pull 5 pounds or less for 2 or 3 weeks, until the micro-stitches healed, but really that was no big deal either.

I hope your response to this surgery is as minor as mine was!

Hope this helps,
cindy

butterflylvr's picture
butterflylvr
Posts: 943
Joined: Apr 2011

not much help from me as I am still sporting my tissue expanders. Can I ask you what implant did you decide on? Saline or Silicone and why? Did you have radiation and if so how long did you wait before your exchange surgery? I know... lol... who's asking the questions here?

Thanks and good luck with your upcoming surgery..
Lorrie

jessiesmom1's picture
jessiesmom1
Posts: 713
Joined: Jun 2010

I had 16 rounds of chemotherapy (last one in August 2010) but I did NOT have radiation. My mastectomy was 16 months ago (Feb. 2010) and I waited this long for the exchange surgery because in the interim I had shoulder surgery due to frozen shoulder (Nov. 2010). My plastic/reconstructive surgeon strongly recommended a "high profile" saline implant. It was his opinion that in the remote chance of an implant leak or rupture there is far less risk to your health from leaking saline than silicone. In addition, he said that when a saline implant leaks it is more obvious - you will appear flatter. With a silicone implant you will likely not see a difference and the stuff will just be leaking into your body undetected.

I am happy to answer your questions. It is nice to know that my experiences can be of some help to the ladies on this Board.

IRENE

Heatherbelle's picture
Heatherbelle
Posts: 1221
Joined: Jun 2010

actually the new silicone implants do not leak into your body if they rupture-they are a "gummy bear" like gel-if they rupture they maintain their solid gel shape, much like if you were to cut into a gummy bear. Silicone implants are completely safe, natural looking and feeling, and much less likely to have rippling, and much softer. I'm THRILLED with my memory gel silicone implants.
*hugs*
heather

jessiesmom1's picture
jessiesmom1
Posts: 713
Joined: Jun 2010

Thanks so much for the quick response, Cindy. My reconstructive surgeon and his staff have answered many questions and I have my final pre-surgical visit on June 7th. It is always helpful to hear from someone who has actually been through the procedure rather than just hear things from a doctor's point of view. I am looking forward to the breast reduction also. My DD is just not necessary for me. I tell my 18 year old daughter that my breasts will look better than hers. Problem is that the rest of me is 53.

IRENE

butterflylvr's picture
butterflylvr
Posts: 943
Joined: Apr 2011

Thank you Irene, I too was leaning towards saline and I think you pushed me further to that side. I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for your input... and good luck my dear.

Lorrie

jnl's picture
jnl
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

I had a lumpectomy, but, I want to wish you good luck Irene with your upcoming surgery.

Hugs, Leeza

Heatherbelle's picture
Heatherbelle
Posts: 1221
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Irene -
I had my exchange surgery in February of this year. Mine was also an outpatient surgery. Only difference is I had bilateral mastectomy, so I had expanders in both sides. I was SO glad to get those expanders out! I had no drains, no problems at all moving my arms/shoulders, and was only limited to not lifting anything over 5 lbs for 10 days or so. It was pretty painful/sore the first 2 days after surgery, then I seemed to recover quite quickly. They put my sports bra on me when they were finished with the exchange surgery. All in all, it was much quicker, and way less painful, than my mastectomy. Best of luck to you with your upcoming exchange!
*hugs*
Heather

icefishinglady's picture
icefishinglady
Posts: 15
Joined: Mar 2012

My day will come (months away from that point) and I am eager to know what to expect, as well.

Mitzi333's picture
Mitzi333
Posts: 511
Joined: Feb 2011

My exchange suregery is on 4/26. I'm looking forward to it. When is yours scheduled? Hopefully we have an ez time as most have responded. Keep me posted on your progress and I'll do the same.

Wishing YOU all the BEST!!!

{{{Hugs}}}
Mitzi ;0)

Mitzi333's picture
Mitzi333
Posts: 511
Joined: Feb 2011

Happy everything went well the second time!!! Did you get saline again? That internal product that acts as a bra sounds interesting!!! I'll inquire. I'm surprised you were threatened with a law suit. Sound more like a bully move to me. You have the "Right" to give feedback. I don't think you should have taken it down. You were NOT defaming him, just providing feedback on the sloppy work. Thanks for sharing!!! How long are you waiting for the nipple and tatoo portion?

I'll keep you posted on my surgery results.

Thanks Again!!!
Mitzi ;0)

jessiesmom1's picture
jessiesmom1
Posts: 713
Joined: Jun 2010

After much research and discussion with various surgeons I decided to go with the smooth, round, silicone gel implant this time around. So far so good. The doctor said I could do the nipple reconstruction any time after about 3 months post-surgery. The areola tattoo would be done several months after that. It is really just a matter of seeing where this fits into my husband's schedule and when we have to bring our daughter home from college. That is always a big production.

You should absolutely inquire about and Google the Strattice product - especially if you are larger breasted. Good luck with your surgery. Please let us know how it goes.

IRENE

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