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Unilateral mastectomy & reconstruction

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Comments

  • damazon
    damazon Member Posts: 13
    edited August 2015

    I had a uni-M on April Fool's Day 2011. Surgery was nothing, walking, happy the next day ... then I found out my cancer was 7cm and not simply 2 cm, multi centric and multifocal ... and, and, ... but happy to report it is now almost 5 years later, and I am healthy, and looking good. I have a great Amoena stick-on prosthesis and wear a padded uplift bra, Size 38B, when I am actually a 38-36A cup size. Life was getting better until a gym club member (a twenty year survivor who never tried to hide her single breast) told another member I had only one breast. I freaked. I have arranged for implant surgery (initially told I could never have implants due to radiation damage but it appears that my radiated skin has come back to normal and I can now undertake an implant based reconstruction).

    I hope it goes well but I understand that at least for me, or 1 in 5 , it may not take. I do not want to spend more than a year reconstructing. If it does not work out I will be reverting. My fear now is that the site may look ugly after moving forward, whereas now, the mastectomy scar is relatively pale, and the area relatively smooth.

    Nonetheless, I am tired of wearing my prothesis, cleaning it every night, and putting it on five days a week, and panicking if I forget to wear it at the grocery store when I quickly leave the house for a menu item. I hope it goes well.

    Just want to say I really, really, appreciate all of you who post, and help make my journey visible, doable, and provide the greatest gift of life, community. Thanks!

  • damazon
    damazon Member Posts: 13
    edited August 2015

    Should have said, received a morphine drip the night of the surgery, and took Tremacet as prescribed. It was no cake walk! Just saying, would not want to make light of such a traumatic and painful

    surgery. Nonetheless, pain medication is great!

  • Fourminor
    Fourminor Member Posts: 118
    edited August 2015

    My PS, who seems to be a minimalist, also dissuaded me from fat grafting (along with the lift of the other side). Although i developed a ripple right at my cleavage, he said it was unlikely that fat grafting would correct it. He also thought that fat grafting had about a 50 % chance of making the thin skin above the implant look better, but a not unreasonable chance it could make it worse, and talked about fat necrosis. His advice was to leave it alone. IT would appear that spaghetti straps and I will be parting ways, but as long as I have a more full cup coverage, things do not look amiss.

    One thing i was wondering was how come they can't use the facial filler stuff (like Juvederm), instead of fat, to smooth out edges and such. I have to ask him that.

    Damazon, its your body you have to do what makes YOU happy!

    I have to get up the energy to book an appointment with Vinnie.

  • Mich71
    Mich71 Member Posts: 11
    edited August 2015

    I am curious if anyone's drop and fluff took longer on the reconstructed side. Exchange on 4/28/15 with augment but no lift on native side. If the reconstructed side takes longer, a little bit of drop yet would be about perfect for symmetry. Any wisdom appreciated

  • tjh
    tjh Member Posts: 272
    edited August 2015

    My PS said it would be around 6 months to see the final results. She did a lift on the native side and expander placement when I had my mastectomy. My reconstruction, silicon implant, is 8/12... Next Wednesday. After the pain of the mastectomy and chemo I am getting nervous.

  • Fourminor
    Fourminor Member Posts: 118
    edited August 2015

    I had no ripple until about 4 months out, then it just showed up one day so I think that's when things dropped.


  • tjh
    tjh Member Posts: 272
    edited August 2015

    Fourminer...Arimodel is the hormone therapy I started this week, 4 weeks post chemo. How are the SE?

  • tjh
    tjh Member Posts: 272
    edited August 2015

    That would be Arimidex...hate autocorrect

  • Fourminor
    Fourminor Member Posts: 118
    edited August 2015

    For me its hot flashes, a little stiffness in my feet and ankles when i first get up in the morning, that's basically gone once i get to the hallway.


  • Fleurdavril
    Fleurdavril Member Posts: 7
    edited July 2020

    Hi ladies!

    I am new to this forum and I have a question.I just had a UMX left side and I agree to do a reduction/lift on the native side at time of the exchange.The more I think about it, the more I read, I feel like it would be best to remove the breast and get an other implant for 1.better symetry 2.less scars 3.no more mammograms 4.I wouldn't have to worry about the native side sagging after some time (even if I know the side with the implant will sag eventually) .I'd like to know your thoughts on that if any and did anyone ever have regrets doing a UMX?

    Thank you.

  • Marenstd
    Marenstd Member Posts: 2
    edited August 2020

    Hello! I have the same question as Fleurdavril! I am finishing up chemo and still trying to decide between unilateral or bilateral for the same reasons. Oncologist notes the risk with the non-cancerous breast is low at 5% but I still feel that's 1 in 20! Between that and the reconstruction options I am changing my mind twice a day. Any advice/thoughts from someone with a similar experience would be most appreciated.

    Thank you


  • AnnC2019
    AnnC2019 Member Posts: 93
    edited August 2020

    Hi Marenstd,

    I just had a prophylactic mastectomy on the left side which was cancer free. I read my test results and the notes indicated atypical hyperplasia with e-cahedrin loss, so even though it was cancer free that is the start of potential tumors growing there. My plastic surgeon also indicated it would be hard to match both sides later, so I would have had to have it lifted etc and then get mammograms. I also didnt want radiation down the road on my left side because I had radiation damage to my lungs. Additionally I have capsular contracture on my TE expanded right side so I will still probably be lopsided. I am two weeks out of surgery and left the house without a bra today and no sagging which was pretty awesome


  • Marenstd
    Marenstd Member Posts: 2
    edited August 2020

    Thank you AnnC2019,

    Your response is very helpful. Congratulations on the bra-free foray! I would appreciate any thoughts or insights you have about the timing (initial double mastectomy vs doing the prophylactic mastectomy at the later date)?

    Thank you

  • lala1
    lala1 Member Posts: 974
    edited August 2020

    I had a UMX in 2012 with an implant on BC side (left) and lift with a small implant on native (right) side for symmetry in 2013. I'm very happy I had a UMX because I can say that recovery was hard and I can't imagine having done it with no good arms! Also, my PS explained to me that implants are warrantied for 10 years and that many women opt to swap them out at that time so they don't have out of warranty implants in their chests. He doesn't really recommend that but does suggest swapping them out every 15 years or so because the integrity of them can break down. My BS actually says he will do an MRI on me every 3 years or so to check the integrity of it and as long as it's holding up he says to keep it. And as an added bonus I get an MRI on my native breast every 3 years just to be sure the mammograms haven't missed anything. Now, I will say that 7 years later my native side has started to droop just a bit lower. I can't tell yet dressed but I know one day I will. When that day comes, I am going to swap out my implant for a brand new one and then get my native side lifted again. I know this surgery is basically outpatient as it was when I had it done in 2013 during my exchange surgery. And it was a very easy surgery to recover from. I was out pretty much doing normal life in a week! So I guess I'd vote UMX just because at the time I felt having a good working arm made a big difference in how I got through recovery. And if I have to swap out implants periodically anyway I might as well get everything evened up at that time!!

  • AnnC2019
    AnnC2019 Member Posts: 93
    edited August 2020

    I wanted both sides done at the same time but they wanted to wait due to a pre-condition which was really unnecessary. I wish I had both done at the same time. Recovery is easier with one side, especially if you’re a side sleeper, so that was the only benefit.

  • momwriter
    momwriter Member Posts: 276
    edited June 2021

    Q- Should I get a prophylactic MX on my other side? If so recon, or no recon.


    I went through treatment (UMX, Chemo, Herceptin. Radiation) and DX is coming up on 9 years ago. I had a UMX with recon on the left, and a slight lift on the right (that didn't really work).

    I am wondering if I should get a prophylactic MX on my right side so I don't have to go through the worry - every time I have an MRI or Mammo I get a call back and it's so stressful. One day they might find something and I don't really feel like going through it all again if possible.

    On my UMX side, I had an ALND and recon. My range of motion is much worse (For instance in my yoga practice). So I don't know if I'd want to get recon on my other side because I want to be able to do yoga etc well. So I may consider removing the implant and being flat.

    I like having a chest "profile" even though it's lopsided- I can work with it with a bra. And of course I don't feel like having more surgery. On the other hand, I'm healthy age 56 and maybe this would be a good time in life to do this.

    Any advice?



  • ChrisJack1
    ChrisJack1 Member Posts: 8
    edited August 2021

    Hi everyone, I'm new here & need help. Surgery is 8/16/21. I have decided on a left breast mastectomy w TE placement under the muscle on left side only for later implants on both sides, instead of a recommended lumpectomy w radiation, bc I have TEENY TINY breasts, not even a double a, and I would lose the total lower pole of my breasts and have a "significant defect" that the breast surgeon admitted when I pushed. My tumor is about an inch down from my nipple. Unfortunately I'm 5.9 and 122 lbs and can't get a diep etc (too bad they can't use my saddle bags!).

    I was told that although my chest measurement for bras is just 32, that I would have to go about a large b or small C because the footprint on a smaller silicone implant would be too small. My right healthy breast would just get an implant at the same time the removed the TE from the left breast & placed the implant.

    FIRST, has anyone ran into this issue of having to go much bigger for these reasons?

    SECOND, was anyone kind of discouraged from getting reconstruction w implants bc it seems like the doctors assume it doesn't much make a difference if you're flat to begin with? The BS is female and the PS is male. It may be my fault bc I mentioned considering implants in the past pre-bc but because I was so small and very boney on my upper body I was afraid implants would be obvious and I would have extensive rippling etc. The PS was very honest and said it would look "pretty darn fake" wo clothes on.

    THIRD, so do you think I should consider a dmx instead of a umx since it sounds like symmetry will be an issue? I left a message for the PS about this and I know I will likely be he didn't think it would be necessary.

    I'm really interested in everyone's thoughts as I'm feeling very lost. I have been stuck at my parents house after my 91 yr old father w dementia fell. He's now handicapped & incontinent and sadly I have been unable to focus on these issues as he can't be left alone. Feeling really rather despondent and alone. Also feeling like some ppl don't think that having a mastectomy will be a big deal bc I'm so flat anyway. Yeah, my mother said that. Sigh



  • lala1
    lala1 Member Posts: 974
    edited August 2021

    ChrisJack1-- I also had a uni mx on the left with an added implant on the right side. Before surgery my PS and I went through my options and he felt he could easily put a 500cc implant in the left and just lift the right side to match. I was 49 at the time and my boobs had started drooping a lot. I was considered a B cup so not flat but not big either. I had specifically asked to not go bigger but I also was very emphatic that i wanted my breasts to match. I'd never thought about them before but of course, breast cancer really makes you focus on them suddenly! Turns out I woke up bigger BUT you really can't tell. My PS said he put in the 500cc implant and the whole OR was like "nope! too flat!" So he went bigger and still couldn't match the native side. So bigger still....and so on till he got to 600cc and everyone was like "yes!!". But then we he compared to the native side, you could tell the difference so they had to augment that side with an implant. And of course the only one he had in the OR to fit was 75cc. So....I'm 600 on one side and 575 on the other. Can't tell the difference and with the lift on the native side it was almost a perfect match. Even whippetmom on the implant group was seriously impressed with how well he matched me. Now having said that, my surgery did take longer because it took so long to get them even but that surgery was way easier to recover from than the mx itself. And now I'm 8 years out (almost 9) and the native side is starting to droop again. A lot of BS and PS tell you that the warranty on implants is 10 years so lots of people get them swapped out then. My PS says if unwarrantied implants don't bother me (they don't because I get MRIs every 3 years or so to check the integrity of them.) then to just wait till I feel the "uneveness" really bothers me and he'll swap them out and give me a lift at the same time and I'll be good to go for anther hopefully 15-20 years. By then I'll be too old to care!!

    And as to Uni vs bilateral, I'm thrilled I did just one. It was rough recovering with one bad arm. Can't imagine how it would have been with 2 bad arms! Much less double the drains!! Be sure to ask for PT to avoid frozen shoulder and then keep going to make sure you don't favor one side over the other and end up out of whack. But that's just what worked for me. I have no regrets. And i have a great BS that gives me digital mammograms every year and has me space out my doctor's appointments that involved breast exams (BS, MO and GYN) so that I'm getting my breasts checked every 4 months. Gives me great peace of mind that I'm doing my best for my health. Hope this helps and good luck!



  • banana1949
    banana1949 Member Posts: 1

    I have tiny breasts, probably AAA. I must have a mastectomy on one. The implants are size A at the smallest. I like my small breasts very much. If I get the A implant (he can do a teardrop implant), am I going to look lopsided in t-shirts etc? I don't want to get a DIEP, as I'm 74 and don't want to go thru that

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,884

    Hi @banana1949, and again, welcome to BC.org!

    Here is another popular discussion that provides great information and gives you the opportunity to learn from others who have had reconstructions with implants. Feel free to post there too to get their feedback.

    Best,

    The Mods