Would I have reconstructive surgery again, based on what I know now?

If you’ve been reading my blog you probably know that it’s gone 10 years since I was diagnosed with cancer and had my treatment. That I was refused reconstruction 5 years later as I didn’t have enough differentiation between my breasts (it was not possible to get an implant small enough)! And that I received my first prosthesis 9 years after my treatment.

I’ve also recently undergone 2 surgical procedures to reconstruct my breast using Lipomodelling. Having been asked if I would do it again based on what I know now, I thought that I’d do a quick review so that I could give a considered response.

I wa very unhappy with my body, even though my husband was not in the least bit bothered by the imbalance in size between my breasts and the huge dimple on the upper part of the post-surgery one.

Prosthesis

The prosthesis was fantastic at balancing me out when worn under clothes. And once I’d had a bra fitting and bought a correctly fitting bra, that helped even more (I bought mastectomy bras so I could slip the prosthesis to into the pocket). But even all that wasn’t enough for me. When I looked at myself, in a mirror, or down my front, I felt ‘wrong’.

One and a half years before I embarked on this ‘adventure’ I was told that I was now a suitable candidate for an implant and I could choose what size I wanted to be. My other breast (the whole one) could be reduced or enlarged as required, so that I could have symmetry. At the time it was something that was going to be introduced at the hospital within the following year, so I must wait to hear.

At my next annual appointment I received my prosthesis and enquired about the chance that I may be able to have a reconstruction, as had previously been discussed. I can’t honestly say what had gone on, but some scurrying about went on and I was booked in for an appointment to start moving things on for me.

I saw a surgeon who took measurements and examined my prosthesis. He and the breast care nurse both agreed I was wearing the wrong size bra. I was wearing 36A, should have been at least 36C according to them. In actual fact I’m now very comfortable in either 32E (Anita Alicia) or 34DD (Royce Sadie) – based on my natural breast.

Anita Alicia post surgery bra
Anita Alicia post surgery bra
Royce Sadie comfort bra
Royce Sadie comfort bra

During that meeting with the surgeon, all types of reconstruction were discussed: implants, LD flaps, TRAM flaps. I admit I got anxious about the choices offered. Having been a book reviewer for Macmillan Cancer as a ‘Cancer Voice‘ for several years I’m well read on the pros and cons of most types of reconstruction (as a lay person).
I interrupted!! “I don’t want implants! And I’ve also been reading about a new procedure which transplants fat from the abdomen to the breast in order to reform it. That’s what I want!”

The surgeon told me it was possible to have this done locally or at another hospital. He suggested I research it and let him know my decision.

Researching it was not at all easy, there was very little information available and that which was available was not necessarily in English. Fortunately he had mentioned the name of another surgeon who had been to France to see Emmanuel Delay presenting his work, so I looked for her on Google and found out more about the services offered by her team.

Despite spending a fair amount of time looking for information before I had my treatment I wasn’t able to turn up much useful material. So I based my decision to ask for a referral to this other surgeon on skimpy evidence and gut feeling.

I was reassured when I went for my initial appointment. However I did forget most of my questions and the most important thing that I had wanted to do – see pictures of her work done to date or meet previous patients.

I recommend that you ALWAYS write down all your questions and worries in advance – leaving space to fill in the answers! An example of such a list of questions is in my blog post Fifteen breast lipomodelling questions answered

I was not given any written documentation about the procedure and because I hadn’t asked many questions, was very much in the dark about what to expect. I had no idea of what could go wrong, nor what to expect before, during and after the procedure.

Having had the 1st procedure and during the follow-up clinic I did ask for literature on the procedure and was told it was so new that there wasn’t any. At my latest clinic following my second procedure, I offered them a copy of my blog to give to patients who may wish for more information. It was politely declined and I was told patients wanting more information would be advised to google for it. I found that quite sad!

In looking back I think I may have been somewhat hasty in agreeing to go ahead with the surgery – I underwent a surgical procedure for which I had scant information, no written details, no idea of the true hazards and just a fixation on having the treatment done.

However, having had the procedure, I am glad that I did go through with it. Knowing what I now know I would still go through with it again! [That’s what you were waiting for!]

However, I would read about the pros and cons of such a procedure as much as possible beforehand, to be sure that I could accept ALL the risks. Which is why I started this blog – for others to have the same access to information and another persons experience.

I will blog about my follow-up clinic appointment shortly and the additional information I gleaned in due course.

Since I have now trained as a Bra Lady and fit bras for ladies in their own homes, I also now know from my training and experience that no lady has perfectly symmetrical breasts. Inevitably (unless she has had surgery) one breast is usually larger than the other. This has made it much easier for me to accept that my breasts will always be slightly different sizes.

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2 thoughts on “Would I have reconstructive surgery again, based on what I know now?

  1. Helen Wathen

    I would just like to say thankyou…..you have given me some hope that this could be what i need……many thanks Helen

    1. Helen, I wish all the best, whatever you decide, and I’m glad my experience is of use to you. Some of my other posts give a lot more detail about the surgery, if you want to find out more. One of them has links to other sources which go into a great deal more detail as well.
      For me, I am so much happier with my body now. It’s still not ‘as it was’ and I still need to wear a prosthesis to balance me out, but the prosthesis is not so large and heavy and my shape is better. I won’t go for any more surgery now, I’m satisfied that this is the best I can be and am happy with that.
      Take good care of yourself
      Julie x

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