I met with “the” plastic surgeon yesterday. He is highly regarded in his field and is the chief of plastic surgery for two hospital systems in the area. He creates masterpieces – or so I am told. It was a good consultation and helped me move forward with my decision.
I have requested a bilateral mastectomy and should have a surgery date by the end of the week. It is likely that surgery will be another 4 weeks out due to vacations with members of my surgical team. So the waiting continues.
You may be asking “why?” and saying I’m too young. I am too. I am also too old to deal with wondering whether or not I will get breast cancer again in the same or opposite breast. As much as I want to do breast conservation surgery, I am too young to take the chance that it will come back or a new cancer will be found and then not have the reconstructive options that I do today.
Let me explain. When you radiate skin, it turns to leather so to speak and loses its elasticity. It cannot be used for future reconstruction. If the cancer returns, I would have to have a regular mastectomy, and then if I wanted reconstruction, the options are more involved (taking skin and tissue, including muscle) from my stomach and/or back. It is a much more invasive procedure. Yesterday, the plastic surgeon said that I am not a good candidate for either back or stomach tram flap procedures because I don’t have enough fat and excess tissue to move. My stomach muscles are shot and would not be suitable for further splicing. With bilateral mastectomy reconstruction from the start, I have the most options, the least risk of breast cancer ever again and a matching set!
Speaking of matching sets – for those of you wondering whether or not I’ll go bigger, that is an unknown. I also learned yesterday that just because I want to increase a cup size (or 2!) doesn’t mean that I can. In fact, the good dr told me that I may wind up being smaller than I already am. Much depends on my own skin and how much it will tolerate the tissue expanders. I will also likely wind up with some cadaver tissue that will be used to help create the pocket for the future implant after the expanders are removed. That is a little creepy but I know that it is done regularly. Tissue rejection for this type of procedure is rarely a problem.
Surgery will take 51/2 hours and I will spend 1 to 2 days in the hospital. I was relieved to hear that we don’t do drive-thru mastectomies in Nebraska.
It is a lot to take in and I will be honest that I am not 100% convinced that this is what I want to do; however I think it is what I should do for myself so that I can be here to babysit my future grandchildren some day.