Twinks56 Member Posts: 37
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I need some advice from those that have been there,done that.My dx was Jan.28,2003 with breast cancer.My mastecomy was Feb.6,2003.They started recon then with an expander.On Feb.25 I had surgery to remove the expander because of major infection.I finished my chemo a week ago and now face recon again.I am scared to do it because of the past,more surgery,recovery time,etc. Can anyone help me with this? I know it is ultimaly my choice.My husband supports whatever decision I make.He doesn't care either way.I have a real hard time looking at the scar.Is there minamal scaring after recon?I know my extended family here can help. Thanks Twinks56(Teresa)


  • raku
    raku Member Posts: 23
    Hi Theresa,
    I'm in the process on reconstruction (expanders). Have a little more expanding to do then chest area needs to "settle" a couple of months before implants are put in. I had a hard time looking at the scars my case I was also very concave. I have seen pictures of women who have a flat chest area after a mastectomy and I did not look like that. I was truly concave and sunken in. I think that was one of the factors I considered when deciding about reconstruction. Anyway, the scars are healing although still red/pink. Scars have gotten larger/wider with each surgery but still manageable.
    I can see why you would be hesitant to try expanders again since you rejected your first set due to infection. My expansion has been put on hold because of possibility of is very cautious about proceeding until a-okay from another doctor. Guess infection to expander site is not that uncommon. It must have been emotionally taxing on you to have to go through that ordeal. I am sorry that it happened to you.
    Overall, I'm glad I started reconstruction. Some days I hurt or ache. Hurt when doctor expands me with fluid...but that is such a short time I try not to think about it. Some days my back and shoulders ache from the added weight...really have to concentrate on holding my shoulders back. But it is really nice putting on a shirt and "filling" it out (with or without a bra!).
    I am not sure but I think you have to wait a certain amount of time before trying expanders after remove due to infection (6months??). You are smart to start thinkng about it now. It is a big decision. Take care.
  • cammie
    cammie Member Posts: 102
    I am currently in the expander stage. I get my implant Aug. 7th. I got my expander right after my chemo. I think I should have waited a month or two, just for healing after chemo. Pretty soon I will be done, but surgery, chemo then surgery and more surgery. It really kills the energy level. I am glad that I am doing the reconstruction - I am, I am I am (I keep telling myself) lol I have had no problems with infection, but the expander is very uncomfortable. If you get a expander hire a massage therapist. They help a lot. Smile Cammie
  • adair
    adair Member Posts: 1
    Hi Twinks56,
    I'm having reconstruction also. I was Dx 6 years ago & waited til my five years was over to start the process. I received an expander in Sept '02 and made bi-weekly trips to the doc (that was 2.5 hours away). In March had the expander removed and a perm. implant put in. In June went back and had more work done to the implant (to try and make it match up better in size). The doc says we are now ready for the "tatoo". My mastecomty scar did get a little bigger, but it also helped smooth it out - if that makes any sense, and it has faded in color thru the years - so - it's not so bad. I didn't have any problems with infection or swelling or any thing like that, maybe because I had waited so long my site wasn't as sensitive. I'm not entirely satisfied with my results - so I am going to go get a second opinion before I have the tatoo done. But after six years, it is SO MUCH better than how I was. I wasn't sure I wanted to have the reconstruction done when I was first Dx - I just wanted to be rid of the problem, but over time - I decided I wanted to be able to wear a scoop neck dress or top and not feel uncomfortable to do so, because like raku, I was very concave. It is a decision that you need to make for you. And you don't have to make it now. If you are unsure, wait. You can have it done later. And insurance is to cover reconstruction - at whatever point you decide to do it. Oh - as far an scaring from recon - my doc used a place along the same scar line - so it did not add any more scaring (like he said - I'm a plastic surgeon - it's my job to reduce scars - not add more). I don't know if any of my rambling has helped, but I am certainly glad to hear what the other ladies said also. I've been looking for others to discuss this with for several weeks.!! Take care & let us know how you do. If anyone else whats to discuss this more, please leave a message.
  • wordco
    wordco Member Posts: 9
    Dear Teresa:
    The good news is that once your infection clears, you can have reconstruction anytime, whether it's six months or six years after your mastectomy. Your mastectomy scars are permanent, no matter what type of reconstruction you have, however, they do fade considerably in time; massaging and using a scar improvment cream can help a lot too.

    Getting an infection is no fun; but it's no indication that you'll get another one if you go through the expanders again; it's possible, certainly, but not as likely as it is immediately with mastectomy. I just wrote a book about breast reconstruction; I interviewed several women who had infections after mastectomy, had their expanders taken out, then later repeated the process with no problem. Why not make an appointment with the very best plastic surgeon you can find and see what he/she of luck and good health to you.

    Kathy S
  • blossomtime
    blossomtime Member Posts: 98
    Hi, I just had my expander exchanged for implant 4 weeks ago. I cant even tell that I had this done by looking at incision. I had the other side lifted during same surgery. Yesterday I actually had sleeveless sweater on at home without bra and believe me I havent looked like that in yrs. I had my expander at time of mastectomy a yr ago. Then waited until all treatment finished in march do discuss next step. I plan to go on and have nipple reconstruction also. I am very happy with the decisions I made regarding reconstruction. Good luck to you in your journey. You will know what is right for you. I followed my own mind not what the plastice surgeon wanted to do and I have never looked back.
  • jake10
    jake10 Member Posts: 202
    I know how you feel about more surgery. I had a tram flap at the time of surgery and have had problems with the abdominal incision. requiring another surgery to clean out necrosed tissue and infection. I still have not had any of the follow up lipo and forming to the new breast. I can not consent to more treatments right now so I'll wait. But I know I can finish up at a latter time. It's nice to have choices. Beth
  • bunnie
    bunnie Member Posts: 233
    Hi Twinks56.I had a mastecomy in Jan of this year.At first i was all hung go on doing reconstruction and know iam not so sure so iam waiting.At times i say yes i want too have it done but then at other times i think that the Prothsis is just fine becase iam not looking forward too any more suregeies.I was thinking about doing the Tram flap one if i did any of them i am scared of doing the implants becase i dont know if it is the same or not but i have heard of so many women who just have the implants in becase they want too be bigger not becasue they have had a mastecomy and i have hear they Leak and cause problems Not sure if this is the same kind of Imaplant or not.also like adiar said she waited for 6 years and is just know having it done so dont rush into anything take the time to decide.I know i certanily am.It would be nice too wear whatever you want again though.Iam glad that you have a very supportive husband.MIne is the same way He says it doesnt matter too him he will love me no matter what i decide.Sorry for going on so long.I wish you the best of luck in whatever you decide.Amy