Saturday, August 7, 2010

February 2009: my bilateral mastectomy and tram flap breast reconstruction

Eight months after diagnosis and five weeks after finishing chemotherapy, I underwent a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate TRAM flap reconstruction. I was in surgery for 11 hours and in the hospital for 1 week.

The recovery was much more difficult than I had anticipated and the pain much more severe. I couldn’t bend over or stand completely erect. I couldn’t twist my torso. Getting in and out of bed was very hard, too – I had to use a large step stool because holding my leg up too high was painful also.

After the initial few weeks of recuperation, I did not look anywhere near normal. Perhaps I didn’t ask the plastic surgeon enough questions about what to expect, but then I had no idea what to ask having never been there before. I thought that after a few weeks of recovery and healing I would have a flatter belly and nice, new, perky boobs.

That was not the case. I was left with pouches of fat on my hips where the hip-to-hip incision was done. The surgeon said that it was normal because of how they removed skin and pulled skin down to reattach …something like that. Anyway, he said that it will be fixed. He keeps saying that he’ll “fix anything that’s not perfect” every time I see him.

My boobs are not so perky and they seem to continue onto my sides and it’s gross. I can’t wear a bra because of that extra skin and puffiness on the sides. He says that will be fixed, too.

I guess I should feel reassured and maybe I was naïve to think that I would look great and transformed several weeks after the surgery. I will try and be positive and patient and see what happens after 6 months.

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