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Posts (6)

Aug 8, 2018 · Bilateral Mastectomy or not in Breast Cancer

Hi, @octoberred, I had a bilateral mastectomy (one breast was cancerous, one prophylactic) with immediate breast implants. I am now 4 weeks out. I requested the skin and nipple sparing procedure. Luckily, they were able to spare both successfully. Currently, I still have tape over my 5-inch incisions and will (by choice) leave this tape or another fresh strip of Micropore tape on for at least 3 months for scar refinement. I am quite pleased in that I do have some sensation in my breasts that I was not expecting. Here is what I have:
If you were to draw a circle around my breasts, all the skin outside the circle has feeling above and below the breast, but the area from the armpit down to the bottom of my breast is numb and painful.

Now, inside the circle (the breast itself) one half of the breast has feeling and one half is numb! The outsides of the breasts, from the outside edge of the nipple are numb, but the inside of each breast (including the nipples) have normal sensation! And actually, my nipples are fairly painful right now which is not surprising, considering. So that is good.

Regarding feeling cold, I have silicone implants and my skin and the implants feel as warm as the surrounding skin. I am a low thyroid and know that I would not like the cold feeling if it were to occur, so I am glad that is not the case for me.

I don't know if this information gives you anything more to think about. Good luck to you.

Aug 5, 2018 · Breast Surgery; any advice to prepare for surgery? in Breast Cancer

USEFUL TAPE INFO:
The kind of tape you should look for is 3M Micropore tape. There is another 3M tape that is clear and leaves the sticky mess. It is called Transpore tape. It works very well for many things, but will leave a residue. (Residue can be removed with coconut oil, jojoba oil, 409, etc.) So search for 3M MICROPORE tape to avoid the residue.
Both tapes comes in different widths. I luckily had several widths of each in my first aid stash at home.
After surgery, I used some tape to help secure my drainage tubes to my skin so that if I accidently got a tube yanked while dressing or bathing, it would prevent it from yanking out of the opening further.
ALSO:
I found that my reconstructed breasts with implants were heavy and would try to fall to the sides when I laid down to rest and it would hurt quite a bit. Also, the same thing when I had to lean forward for any reason, they would hurt in the cleavage area. Doctor said it was normal and just stitch pulling sensations. It was bad enough that I could not recline or sit up from a recline or sleeping position without needing a hand under my back from someone else – otherwise strong stabby pains, which were relieved when I grasped my breasts and lifted them up and brought them to the center position. After 4 days of stabby pains it occured to me that I could utilize my tape to help me with this. I taped on the sides of my breasts to push them slightly into the central position and under the breasts to push them upwards a bit – sort of like a push up bra. What a difference! It stopped the stabby pains and I could sit, lay, recline without help after that. The tape is not bothered by showering or anything else and can be left on until you want to remove it. I left that on for 5 days and I was able to completely go off the pain pills with the tape support. After the 5 days of taping, I was able to go back to wearing a supporting bra that worked doing the same thing (mostly).
Now, at the 3 week mark, I find that I need to do the tape again to help push the breasts up and center as my old bras just don't fit right and hurt when I wear them. The tape works especially well for sleeping when you do not want a tight bra on. I probably need to go out and buy some new bras to better fit my new breasts, but meanwhile I am grateful for the benefits of the tape!

Aug 4, 2018 · Breast Surgery; any advice to prepare for surgery? in Breast Cancer

Here is the list of things I felt I needed to do, buy and schedule before my surgery:

WHEN YOU FINALLY SCHEDULE THE SURGERY:
Be sure you have satisfied yourself that you have asked all the questions you need answers to from your doctors, and that you fully understand what medications you will be on, what they will be doing to you and that your transportation and after-care help is ready and waiting for you.

A FEW WEEKS BEFORE SURGERY:
1. I sat down and paid in advance any upcoming household bills.

2. I cleaned my house very thoroughly as I knew family would be stopping by and I wouldn't be able to do it for weeks afterwards.
(Hire a service to do this if you are not up to it.)

3. Schedule your personal must-do's so that they are out of the way before surgery like: getting the car washed and gassed, get your teeth cleaned if it is time, get your hair dye done and your manicure done and out of the way.

4. Do all the possible laundry you can – blankets, sheets, towels, pajamas – anything you might need over the next few weeks.

CONSIDER YOUR SLEEPING COMFORT POST SURGERY:
4. I bought a wide wedge pillow from Amazon. It was described as follows: "Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow (32"x30"x7") with Memory Foam Overlay and Removable Microfiber Cover "BIG" by Medslant."

5. I bought a pack of 2 king-sized 'Beautyrest Black' pillows from Costco which are extremely soft, plush and malleable.

Note: This combo of pillows was arranged as follows: Put the wide wedge pillow down first, then lay the 2 king-size pillows side-by-side vertically, that is: one on the left and one on the right, pushed together. This placement allowed me to sleep on my back with my head elevated slightly, and gave important support to my lower back, neck, shoulders and arms. It is important to have the shoulders and arms level or above your chest if you have any lymph node dissection, which I did. This pillow combo is very comfortable, helps with fluid drainage, and reduces the need or impulse to turn or lay on one's side.

6. Set aside a very loose, comfortable pair of pajamas and a few loose shirts and yoga pants to wear while recovering.

FOOD PREP A FEW DAYS BEFORE SURGERY:
7. I bought jello, popsicles, really good probiotics, extra toilet paper & paper towels, magnesium tablets (to help with muscle pain and preventing constipation while using pain pills) breads, and other necessary groceries.

8. I made up a big volume of homemade bone broth vegetable soup. Enough to last for 2 weeks of lunch.

9. I washed and cut up a large amount of fresh fruit with OJ poured over it to make a delicious compote that I put in 4 containers in the fridge for ease of use.

10. I made a good sized roast beef in the crockpot and once cooked, I sliced it thin and put it and its gravy into several containers to have for dinner or sandwiches over the first weeks of recovery.

THE NIGHT BEFORE:

11. The night before surgery, I put clean sheets and pillowcases on my bed and clean towels in the bath.

12. I showered, took a few snapshots of my old breasts before they disappeared, prayed, spoke with my family and thanked them for their support and went to bed early.
…………………………………….
Good luck to you.

Aug 3, 2018 · Mastectomy and Reconstruction (or not) in Breast Cancer

Hi @kruzin, fortunately, I did not have to have radiation or chemo prior to surgery. I am not sure why some women do and some do not. It may be that I expressed that I did not want to do either treatment unless it was critical that I did. But I am not sure that was the only reason. I do know that they said if I only had a large lumpectomy (it would have been nearly half my breast) rather than a mastectomy that I would indeed be having radiation afterwards, but if I had the mastectomy I would not have to.
I do know that studies have shown that there is a much higher possibility of capsular contraction if you have breast implants and then have radiation treatments following the mastectomy. In my case, I wanted immediate reconstruction because I looked at many online photos of women who waited and were left with a big bag of empty skin that would start to grow together.
They could be fitted with an expandable bag (TE or tissue expander) to open the space back up to allow for a future implant, but that just means you will still have a foreign body in there that you have to deal with, tubes hanging out, constant pain as you force expansion, many weeks or months of waiting while you re-expand the pocket, irregularly shaped pockets, possibilities of infection (open wounds there) and a delay on just getting your life back. I didn't know why I would want to put myself through that if I didn't have to.
I do know that capsular contraction around the new breast implant can happen any time even with just a regular breast implant done for aesthetic reasons (non cancer), but knowing how to massage and keep the pocket open, and to remember to continue to take anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, etc.) for a while, will help keep the pocket open and reduce this possibility.
I do know that many of the breast implant manufacturers are giving a 'warranty' in that if you do have capsular contraction, they will replace the implant for free. You should ask the doctor about that.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting here 3 1/2 weeks out from surgery with two very nice looking, matching full breasts. I either wear a supportive tight bra or if at home, I wrap my chest with a wide elastic bandage for compression and comfort. Now each breast sports a 5" lateral incision from the nipple to the armpit that is still taped with surgical tape, but it is no trouble. I have tolerable pain and sensitivity but can go about my life (mostly). I too have gained weight since I had to go off my female replacement hormones 2 months ago, but in another week will be cleared to go to exercise class and get some activity back in my life.
I was lucky to get a really good doctor team for the initial cancer surgery and another good one for the plastic surgery immediately following. I did ask for and receive a nipple sparing and skin sparing surgery. So far, so good. Be sure and ask if you can have that too. Let them know if that is important to you. I hope that helps. Knowledge is power. Good luck!

Aug 2, 2018 · Mastectomy and Reconstruction (or not) in Breast Cancer

Hi @kruzin – I don't know if I'm too late to post my experience as you may have already gone ahead and done your surgery. But, if not,
I wanted to share my information with you, if it might help you.

I just had my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction less than a month ago. I had biopsies in both breasts. I learned one breast had cancer the other tested out benign. The diseased breast had several large masses that all tested malignant and a lumpectomy was not deemed 'ideal' due to the amount of tissue removal involved so a full mastectomy was indicated for that one breast.

I am a research nut and did copious research on the subject and also had 2 consults with the breast surgeon and 2 with the plastic surgeon before deciding. I also spoke with my spouse, 2 children and daughter-in-law who's a nurse. During my weeks of contemplation and research, I subscribed to MedScape and read many of their published medical studies on mastectomy and breast cancer, including survival rates, surgery options, decisions made by patients who chose a particular option and comments from nurses and surgeons. I also searched every article I could on the internet and read many patients' comments.

In the end, I decided to remove both breasts and do immediate implant placement in both. I knew I wanted reconstruction as I would be too depressed otherwise. Mental health is equally as important as physical health and should be weighed as carefully, in my opinion.

My reasoning for doing a bilateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction rather than just doing one breast is as follows:
* If both were done at once, the plastic surgeon would be able to make both breasts match closely, utilizing the new Alloderm artificial skin and identical silicone breast implants.
* I currently have excellent insurance and who knows what I may have years from now if the healthy, remaining breast were to develop something.
* I will never be younger than I am now, and my chance of a good recovery should be better now than years down the road (if cancer were to develop again).
* I would have one time off from work, one (longer) procedure day, one hospitalization, one anesthesia, and one recovery.
* Both breast gone = no further mammos, MRI's, no chemo, no radiation, (hopefully??) and no further worry about the other shoe dropping with the remaining 'healthy' breast developing something down the road. I have read how women who have cancer in one breast must go in and have any remaining breast tissue looked at and poked and prodded yearly for the rest of their lives. I wanted to avoid that if I could. Who needs more stress and worry?
* In addition, my healthy breast had been banged up pretty good with a stereotactic biopsy and had developed a large, hard lump and depression at the point of entry. I felt that it was now injured and may be more susceptible to getting cancer (gut feeling) which further directed me to going forward with both mastectomies.
All-in-all, I am currently glad I chose as I did, however I am still in recovery and may come to a different conclusion later, but I'm hoping for the best!

Aug 2, 2018 · Bilateral Mastectomy or not in Breast Cancer

Hi violetita07 and other ladies on the discussion board! I will add in my two cents. I just had my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction less than a month ago. I had biopsies in both breasts. I learned one breast had cancer the other tested out benign. The diseased breast had several large masses that all tested malignant and a lumpectomy was not deemed 'ideal' due to the amount of tissue removal involved so a full mastectomy was indicated for that one breast.

I am a research nut and did copious research on the subject and also had 2 consults with the breast surgeon and 2 with the plastic surgeon before deciding. I also spoke with my spouse, 2 children and daughter-in-law who's a nurse. During my weeks of contemplation and research, I subscribed to MedScape and read many of their published medical studies of mastectomy and breast cancer survival rates, surgery options, decisions made by patients who chose a particular option and comments from nurses and surgeons. I also searched every article I could on the internet and read many patients' comments.

In the end, I decided to remove both breasts and do immediate implant placement in both. I knew I had to have reconstruction as I would be too depressed otherwise. Mental health is equally as important as physical health and should be considered as carefully, in my opinion.

My reasoning for doing a bilateral mastectomy rather than a single is as follows:
* If both were done at once, the plastic surgeon would be able to reconstruct both breasts at the same time and be better able to match them utilizing the new Alloderm artificial skin and identical silicone breast implants.
* I currently have excellent insurance and who knows what I may have years from now if the healthy, remaining breast were to develop something.
* I will never be younger than I am now, and my chance of a good recovery should be better now than years down the road (if cancer were to develop again).
* I would have one time off from work, one (longer) procedure day, one hospitalization, one anesthesia, and one recovery.
* Both breast gone = no further mammos, MRI's, no chemo, no radiation, (hopefully??) and no further worry about the other shoe dropping with the remaining 'healthy' breast developing something down the road. I have read how women who have cancer in one breast must go in and have any remaining breast tissue looked at and poked and prodded for the rest of their lives. I wanted to avoid that if I could. Who needs more stress and worry?
* In addition, my healthy breast had been banged up pretty good with a stereotactic biopsy and had developed a large, hard lump and depression at the point of entry. I felt that it was now injured and may be more susceptible to getting cancer (gut feeling) which further directed me to going forward with both mastectomies.
All-in-all, I am currently glad I chose as I did, however I am still in recovery and may come to a different conclusion later, but so far I am glad that I chose as I did.