Monday, February 17, 2014

Going back under the knife

Happy Monday friends! We spent this Presidents Day morning visiting my plastic surgeon (PS) Dr. Alghoul. I hadn't seem him in a few weeks, which was so strange after seeing him every single week (or sometimes twice per week) for so many weeks in a row. He says I am still healing well and we are a GO for my next surgery two weeks from this Friday.  I've gotten a lot of questions about why I'm having another surgery already, so here is the CliffsNotes version....

When you have a mastectomy and choose to do reconstruction, you have a lot of choices about how to proceed (and what they can do today is nothing short of amazing!). For the first time in my life I was deemed to not have enough fat/tissue (for natural reconstruction), so implants were really my only option. To be honest, this concerned me. No offense to anyone out there with implants, but I am personally not crazy about the way they look and as an athlete I was worried about the "functionality." My PS assured me we would be able to achieve a natural look and feel.

So here's the thing. When you are getting implants after a mastectomy (as opposed to augmentation) there is no place to put them since your tissue has all been removed. So the PS has to create a nice cozy pocket underneath your pec muscle using the pec + Alloderm (basically cadaver skin...gross). Some women are able to have their implants placed during their first surgery, but because of the type of implants I have chosen, I had to do an intermediate stage where I have tissue expanders. These expanders are hard, temporary implants that are placed under the pecs for no other reason than to stretch out your muscle and skin. Yes, this is why I am still in so much discomfort. Your pecs are not meant to have anything jammed underneath them and these things HURT! When I complained to my PS about rib pain, he said "well they will likely deform your ribs a bit." Really?!!! This is why I can't sleep at night. Anyway....These expanders have a port which allows for saline to be injected once per week to slowly "expand." My nurse said it's like going through puberty all over again and let me tell you, it's an interesting process. Once the expansion is complete, you wait 6-8 more weeks and then have a second surgery to take them out and get your final implants. That's where I'm at right now.

I also have lots of sunken areas up by my collarbone where a lot of tissue was removed and since I have little upper body fat it looks very unnatural (I couldn't wear a bathing suit right now). To try to even things out and achieve a more natural look my PS will also do fat grafting during this second surgery. He will basically take fat from other areas of my body and lay it down where needed up top. I've been working on my "fat reserves" since the first surgery. One nice perk to this whole ordeal. :) The downside to this procedure is lots of swelling, bruising, pain and 2-3 weeks of wearing Spanx to protect from fluid build-up at the fat donor sites. I can't imagine that I will be a happy camper. But it's just a bump in the road, right?

So that's my deal and now you know more than you ever wanted to about the process of reconstruction after a mastectomy. Just a little more than two more weeks with what feels like one of these little beauties (two sizes too small) sewn in under my pec muscles:

Adorable on kids, but that's about it....






Back in the office part time again this week and still working on building up my running/biking base. I need to get SOME fitness back before another 3-4 weeks off in March! I'm definitely seeing a light at the end of this very long tunnel though.

Hope everyone has a good week!

-- HER

2 comments:

Donna Trupiano said...

Hastings ramamenYou are one brave, strong, and courageous young woman. Didn't understand what you had to go through for the end result, but you certainly explained it well.

We will keep you in our prayers and will hope you are free from such pain soon.

Get well dear Jenn.
Donna & Paul Trupiano
(PS I have some fat to donate!)

Anonymous said...

You are one brave, strong, and courageous young woman. Didn't understand what you had to go through for the end result, but you certainly explained it well.

We will keep you in our prayers and will hope you are free from such pain soon.

Get well dear Jenn.
Donna & Paul Trupiano
(PS I have some fat to donate!)