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Exchange Surgery

taiga's picture
Posts: 76
Joined: Jul 2010

My exchange surgery is scheduled for Monday the 14th. Was just wondering how this will compare painwise with the bilateral mastectomy. Hos long were you off work?

CyndiJW's picture
Posts: 53
Joined: Sep 2012

Good question. I have been wondering the same thing, although mine is still a long-ish way off. Just finally, after 3 1/2 wks, getting my last two tubes out tomorrow. Anxious to see the responses you get re the exchange surgery.


hope4thebest's picture
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi, I think I may offer some insight to you, but not sure.... I got the expanders in, and then switched them out for the permanent implants. That procedure went well. It is not as bad as the mastectomy, but be prepared to take it easy. For me, the adrenaline was high, the initial pain wasn't bad. I was feeling strong enough and resumed many things in 2- 3 wks, but it depends on you and your work, etc. Listen to your body, take it slow.

shellywahl's picture
Posts: 11
Joined: Apr 2012

Hi taiga. Thanks for posting this question, I have been wondering the same thing. My expanders will be changed out in mid November, assuming all goes well w/current chemo. Will look forward to more posts.

Do you have any trouble with your expanders? I find the expanders to be awkward and tight. Doc says they will soften a bit once the skins stretches, but I'd like to hear from others about their experience as well. This is all so new and I'm a bit tired of hearing 'everyone is different and will have a different experience'. I think/hope we all get that by now, it's just nice to hear other's perspectives. Thanks again for the post!

hope4thebest's picture
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Ladies,

In my case with the dmx, there was alot scar tissue on both sides because I am so thin, there was no fat. So I want to preface this by saying, I think I am experiencing more pain than they typically expect. Also, I have had no chemo or rads. The expanders phase was exciting, but very sore, with an everpresent ache. I took pain medication along with ibuprofen. From what I understand, they overfill them at the end of this stage because they have to have extra skin stretched to manipulate the exchange. Yes, the new ones are much softer, and less pointy. The expanders have a cashew like shape and are functional in broadening you skin, you will be happier with the implants. For me they were centered more closely than the expanders. Cleavage gets better, it all will improve. Don't rush it, I know that is hard. I always like to say how much exercise helped my body maintain, because it is more uncomfortable when things get too stiff. Good luck in finding your balance, try to stretch gently.

VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9080
Joined: Aug 2009

Recovery for me was much quicker, and my pain level not as severe as bilateral

Exercise and movement was the key for me. Those pesky drains keep me from
many activities and social engagements for the first 2 weeks.

Strength, Courage and HOPE for a Cure.

Vicki Sam

Different Ballgame's picture
Different Ballgame
Posts: 868
Joined: Jan 2010

Dear Taiga,

There is no comparison. Exchange is a piece of cake. I referred to Tissue Expanders as Steel Bullets. The implants on the other hand were soft and supple. Have Mentor Silicone Memory Gel. My exchange was 4 years ago. Memory does become cloudy with time but I tend to think that there was very little pain or no pain with the exchange. You are going to love them.

Lots of Hugs,

Kristin N's picture
Kristin N
Posts: 1969
Joined: Mar 2009

Hoping your surgery went well and that you are doing great now Taiga!

taiga's picture
Posts: 76
Joined: Jul 2010

I had the exchange surgery Monday and it really hasn't been bad at all. Just taking a couple pain pills at bedtime. I actually had more trouble with getting an IV started (they were at the point of using my foot) and with nausea and vomiting from the anesthesia. While I was out, my ENT doctor came in and put a "button" in the hole in my septum. I was in a clinical trial for ovarian cancer and took Avastin all of last year, which left me with a hole in my septum, that just got bigger when I jumped right back into chemo for the breast cancer. I took a shower last night and got a look at my new breasts - I LOVE THEM. I did the nipple sparing surgery so it really looked like the old me - except a little bigger and perkier! I was dx. at Thanksgiving last year, did chemo first, had a bilateral mastectomy with tissue expanders - wow, so much can happen in a year. I am looking forward to a holiday season that isn't consumed with cancer. I may actually put my Christmas tree up this year!

Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2012

I'm so happy your surgery went well! I did the mastectomy first, had a problem with a postop infection, then the chemo. I'm scheduled to get the implant/expander exchange on 10/31. I'm so happy that you can head for the holidays this year without cancer taking over. That's my wish - to have all of the big, bad stuff behind me in 2012, even though I'll be on the Herceptin through May. I definitely think we should all celebrate the holidays this year, after all we've all been through. Pat

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