Monday, April 25, 2016

Tissue Expander Exchange Surgery

It's been a while since I've posted, but I thought I'd give an update. I'm now a month from my reconstructive exchange surgery. Things went really, really fast for me. Because I was expanded so much straight after my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy I only had 10.5 weeks between my mastectomy and my exchange surgery, and only needed once expansion. I was expecting to still be in expanders at this point, so already being finished with my surgeries is a huge blessing!
exchange surgery day!

Compared to a double mastectomy-and with that surgery still being so fresh-the exchange surgery was so much easier! I went into the hospital at 9:30am and was home by 1pm. Of course it's still a pretty big surgery, so there was definitely pain, but instead of three weeks of constant pain pills, I was able to switch off the prescription stuff and over to ibuprofen by day four. I was so awfully uncomfortable with my expanders that I felt a certain relief the same day of my surgery. These permanent implants are so, SO much better! So any ladies out there in expanders, take hope! It gets better! Also, so happy to report that my expander armpit foobs of the picture below are now more centered and normal. I think that was one of my biggest fears-that I would always be unnaturally positioned, so I'm really happy about that. To be honest though, I was really disappointed the first time I took a look at things, but a month later I'm happy. It really does take time for things to "settle." I ended up with 690 cc's, with anatomically (teardrop) shaped silicone implants and they are looking very natural.
no more armpit foobs! 
One of the big surprises of the surgery was that I ended up with jp drains again. These ended up causing me the most pain from the whole thing! By day seven they were pretty unbearable. A little tip- put a few bandaids below the exit site to secure the drains to your side. That helps keep them from being pulled a bit. Also, if you're wearing a bra (24/7 for me after the exchange surgery) putting a cotton ball/gauze/toilet paper between the bra band and the drain exit helps. I once again pinned them to my shirt or pants, but I put baby socks over them to keep my kids from being grossed out. ;)
(I put bandaids over the exit site, over the black stitch holding the drain in place, and then one or two under the area on the drain where the black stitch stops)

last day with drains-hooray!

I have some major rippling when I lay down, and emotionally/visually it's kind of hard to take. Right now I'm at the stage where I need to decide if it's something worth trying to have more procedures to fix, or if I need to learn to be happy. I think it could be very easy to fall down a path of always wanting to have things "tweaked"-and there's nothing wrong with that to an extent-but I also need to remember that I definitely wasn't perfect before, and at some point I have to accept what I have the same way we accept our God given bodies. Not that that was an easy thing to do before! I still have no regrets that I went down this path. The peace that comes from knowing I've done all I can to protect myself from breast cancer is huge. Knowing that all the screening and worries from the past, is in the past, is such a burden lifted!
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