Latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction can be DEVASTATING !!!
I CURSE the day that I decided to have breast reconstruction using the latissimus dorsi flap technique. I am three months out from the surgery, and have not been able to breath, eat, sleep properly, make love to my husband (we just had our first wedding anniversary, sans any physical intimacy), etc. due to extreme constriction caused by the flaps (as well as body pain, explained below). The constiction is akin to a boa constrictor squeezing the breath out of me 24/7... and, despite intense, regular physical therapy, the flaps continue to tighten. I am scheduled for emergency surgery next week. The flaps will be "snipped into" at several locations above and below in an attempt to help relieve the constriction, and the motor nerves in each flap will be cut (resulting in a permanent alteration -- just as the flaps are a permanent alteration). NO ONE warned me of the possibility of any constiction at all, or the persistent and increasing pain at all of the incision sites, the sites where the six drainage bulbs were placed, the entire "band" of constriction, and the deformed "masses" of tissue/implants that bear no resemblance at all to female breasts. Also, no one warned me that it would feel like I had a pork tenderloin implanted below each armpit that would displace my arms from their normal place at my respective sides; I walk around with arms bowed outward like a gorilla. The constriction is so bad that I walk hunched over like a very old lady with severe osteoporosis. I am only in my forties. The only clothing that fits are XL and XXL dresses (no pants/jeans/shorts, etc.) from maternity stores and men's XXL sweatpants and T-shirts. I was a perfect size 6 for decades. I should also mention that the constriction causes my stomach to bubble out in front of me -- not because I gained any significant weight... in fact, it is difficult to eat and I have constant heartburn.
Two months following my emergency double mastectomy in February of this year I felt GREAT!!! My cancer has been (hopefully) removed, my outlook on life was refreshed and renewed, and my new husband and I were looking forward to a wonderful future together. We even bought our dream home. I was wearing prostheses, but it was no big deal -- my husband loves me, not my boobs, and nobody could tell that my "boobs" weren't my own unless I chose to tell them.
Now I cannot even pack for the move into our new home, which we must complete by October 31st of this year.
I wish I could travel back in time and have my latissimus dorsi muscles back in place where God means them to be. NO DEGREE OF COSMETIC IMPROVEMENT IS WORTH THIS KIND OF SUFFERING. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOU IS WHAT'S ON THE INSIDE, NOT THE OUTSIDE.
Note: I had/am having my surgeries (both the double mastectomy and reconstructive) performed at Chicago-land's and Illinois' number one-rated hospital for breast cancer (2012/2013 US News & World Report), not to mention one of this nations top six breast cancer hospitals. --As I have found out, reputation means NOTHING -- only results count.