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Need advise-going flat

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2

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  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,090
    edited January 2018
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    Welcome, LisaP! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, we're glad to have you part of our community!

    The Mods

  • HollyDollyD
    HollyDollyD Member Posts: 26
    edited January 2018
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    I hear you. It's a tough choice. And I think either way it is possible to have regrets. I'm deciding between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy myself. I, too, don't want the extra surveillance (my mammogram didn't catch my small lump...so part of me says what use are they anyway - all statistics aside). And radiation....I don't want extra radiation. And worry - I would be worrying the whole time. Whatever you choose, do know that reconstruction is possible at a later date - it doesn't have to be immediate. I guess sometimes there are no easy answers. Have you thought of speaking live with someone who has had a mastectomy and someone who has had a lumpectomy and talking it through? Online is great, but sometimes just asking lots of questions either face-to-face or on the phone allows a natural conversation where you could put your fears and thoughts out there.

    Hugs,

    Holly

  • SuC
    SuC Member Posts: 11
    edited January 2018
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    I have been living flat for 4 years now. I love it. I have never even bought prostheses. I enjoy the clothes challenge - I suspect it is easier than for large berated women. I enjoy the ability to exercise and get fit with no constricting sports bras. I can wear clothes I couldn't before as there are no concerns about bra straps showing. I have a beautiful tattoo on my chest of a dragonfly as it did feel like a big empty space at first.

    Increasingly I make no particular effort to disguise the flatness. I am happy with it - it is my issue not anyone else. It is VERY rare that anyone even notices - people talk to your face not your chest.

    We are in an Australian summer and I am the envy of many of my female friends for not needing to wear a bra.

    100% happy and wild never reconsider reconstruction


  • Icietla
    Icietla Member Posts: 321
    edited January 2018
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    Welcome, lisap62. Smile

  • snickersmom
    snickersmom Member Posts: 599
    edited January 2018
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    I had a BMX May 3, 2017 so it's still pretty fresh to me. I am 70 and decided I just didn't want to bother with reconstruction. I never could find a bra that fit comfortably and I didn't want to have that problem again. My cancer was only in one breast and I didn't want to have to worry about the other one, so opted for bilateral. And I don't regret that decision for a minute.

    I started out wearing a big old mastectomy bra with the silicone inserts but since I live in Florida, I discovered very quickly that the bra was hot and heavy in the summer. So I tried sports bras with knitted knockers. Those were a little better but I wasn't real comfortable in them either. So then I tried camisoles. Those are okay but I only wear them when I have to.

    I wore the mastectomy bra when we went to Massachusetts for Christmas with our kids and took it off as soon as we got there. Not sure why I even bothered to wear it, but I did. Anyway, I packed, we left, and I forgot it! So it sits at my daughter's house and I don't even care. I have been wearing shirts with nothing else since then (December 17th) and I don't miss any of that stuff. It feels SO good to be comfortable! And nobody notices at all. If they do, they shouldn't be looking down there!

    Biggest problem with going flat is that I was not a size 4 model to begin with, so what a shock when I looked down and saw that stomach! Where in the world did that come from?? I just know it wasn't there before (hahaha). Now I am working very hard to tone up and get rid of that flab, but the Arimidex is fighting me on that one. I'm determined to win that battle!!

    It's such a personal decision. I gave it a lot of thought, talked to my husband (who said he would support whatever decision I made), and prayed a lot. I made the decision that was right for me. Two breasts did not make me who I am.

    You will do what's right for you

  • coraleliz
    coraleliz Member Posts: 158
    edited January 2018
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    I'm 6+ years from diagnosis( almost 7 I think, probably a good thing that I'm not sure) Sometimes I get to feeling blue & need to sort things out. Then I realize my flat chest is not the source of my sadness. As a teenager I had horrific acne & that bothered me. No breasts, not a problem. Altering my appearance never mad me feel better(haircuts,makeup........nope), often these things made me feel worse. I usually have to wear a sports type bra. Unless it's a super soft tshirt or tank, it is uncomfortable sliding around on my chest.

  • Judeshome
    Judeshome Member Posts: 138
    edited January 2018
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    There seems to be such a wide range of experience post surgery. I am very nervous about my upcoming DMX without recon on the 16th Jan. This will be an outpatient procedure which seems to be fairly common these days. Trying to stay busy, I am an active 65 year old and a generally optimistic person, still, I am worried about the shock of waking up with no boobs and looking in the mirror for the first time. I am so grateful for your willingness to share your experience and suggestions for ways to navigate this new reality.
  • Beth65
    Beth65 Member Posts: 1
    edited January 2018
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    If I could do it over, I would go flat first and after recovering from the trauma of treatment, research options. I thought I was choosing the most efficient route to eliminate the number of surgeries I would need. Ha! Also, the expanders made my life during chemo more hellish.

  • StayinPositive
    StayinPositive Member Posts: 1
    edited January 2018
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    Hi all. New to the site. Scheduled for mastectomy in 2 weeks. Still deciding if uni or bilateral. I have decided not to have implants. Not a flap candidate as I don’t have enough tissue to spare. Even the implants would need to go under muscle. So flat it is. One or both sides. I am ok being flat at home n biking walking etc. however I do not want to be completely flat in career and when dressing up. So a whopping A cup prosthesis is fine. Any feedback on them. I checked them out with a fitter and this is one time I am happy to be small breasted. Thoughts on 1 or 2 prosthesis? In case I go w double mastectomy. DCIS left. Right lots atypia LCIS years back. Single Mom. Loving the feedback in here about playing T-Rex. As I set up my house this month for post surgery elbows glued down. You are all awesome. D

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited January 2018
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    StayinPositive, so hard to say. It depends on so many factors. For me, I was facing intense and constant scrutiny of the remaining breast, if I chose to keep it. Also I had ILC, which is notoriously difficult to detect. So I got rid of it. However, it does also mean total loss of a major erogenous zone, which is something to consider.

    I also wear mini-foobs in professional and similar settings. I don't actually use proper prostheses. I wear a yoga top with sturdy shields backed by a silicone bra liner (12 bucks at local lingerie shop). It works just fine. The upside of being totally flat is that you don't have the issue of trying to match the existing breast, and no more mammos, ever!

  • Chiarara
    Chiarara Member Posts: 20
    edited January 2018
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    StayinPositive, I had a UMX around 5-6 weeks ago. I’m also pretty small (B cup). What I’ve noticed is that for a lot of items, I don’t need a prosthesis, because the clothes somehow take on the shape of the remaining breast. So tank tops with the built in bra, for instance, do this. I am only now able to wear a light prosthesis for a few hours,the scar was too sensitive before, just something to bear in mind for looking for professional.

  • lisey
    lisey Member Posts: 300
    edited January 2018
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    flat and Fabulous is a great Facebook support page. If you are interested in seeing tons of us rocking being f&f I highly recommend joining. I became F&F at 41, and think I look thinner, healthier, and better balanced... the clothing options really open up too.

  • Flounder
    Flounder Member Posts: 19
    edited January 2018
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    StayinPositive, I've been very happy with the Amoena Essential Light 2 forms (size 5 which is A) and the Amoena Marlena bras. I never even notice I'm wearing them (even in summer and I'm very active). At home I tend to like light cotton sports bras with weighted foam forms. I occasionally go flat, but I think I actually prefer to feel a little pressure on my chest. We are all different!

  • bn4gvn
    bn4gvn Member Posts: 2
    edited January 2018
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    I am 3 weeks post bmx. I watched and cared for my mom as she went through this 3 times. After her mastectomy she made the comment "I don't even feel like I've had anything done!" I was really counting on that happening to me but 3 weeks later and I am still in considerable pain. Mostly tightness/pressure in my chest and that sunburn/prickly heat feeling. The worst of it right now is right under my collarbone to my armpit on the right. Cancer was on the left, 3 lymph nodes taken from that side so I'm confused why right side is hurting worse. I do have more ROM on the right though... just wondering if this is the new normal or how long anyone else went through this? There are several others in my circle of friends who have had bmx recently but they all had reconstruction so I'm kind of out there alone...

  • Icietla
    Icietla Member Posts: 321
    edited January 2018
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    Welcome, bn4gvn. It will get much better. It might take weeks more, maybe months more, but it will get better. I had very bothersome pain over my chest for I think a couple of months after my last mastectomy surgery. Some persons have more pain from the surgery, some have less.

    When it feels fine, that will be your new normal.

    Have any flexibility exercises been advised/ordered yet for your left arm?

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,178
    edited January 2018
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    I had BMX 5 years ago. Ca on left. Surgeon moves stuff around on non cancer side to take what’s necessary, will take time for that to heal. How long depends, we are all different.

  • GenevaC
    GenevaC Member Posts: 38
    edited January 2018
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    Judeshome / advice post surgery (sorry to be too late) -> take it slow. You will be woozy from drugs, tired from recovering for a few days. There is no rush to look when you already feel low. I avoided mirrors for about a week, then took a small peak. Then a short look a day later. Maybe full look later the same day. For me, it was reassuring to look at this point. Still surprising but ok. It pretty much stopped feeling odd about a week or 2 later. I knew the cancer was gone

    Process was similar for chemo hair loss.

  • aweate
    aweate Member Posts: 13
    edited February 2018
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    Do you have a link to these bras? I would like to order one. Seems like it is working well for you. Also any advise on a bathing suit?

  • aweate
    aweate Member Posts: 13
    edited February 2018
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    sorry if this comes through twice? Do you have a link to these bras?

  • Raque510
    Raque510 Member Posts: 15
    edited February 2018
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    Can anyone speak a little more as to how you came to the decision to go flat versus choosing reconstruction? What reconstruction options were available to you? What wasn't available? How did your doctors react to the decision? I have many other questions, but that's a start. Thanks in advances for your answers.


  • ravzari
    ravzari Member Posts: 32
    edited February 2018
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    For me it was after a year or so of researching different reconstruction methods and deciding that, for me personally, I would not be happy with:

    A) The extra surgeries and extended recovery time. I recoiled at the idea of tissue expanders (and never cared for the idea of implants in general; the idea of foreign bodies inside my body makes me uneasy and I knew I'd never be 'okay' with implants) and had an immediate, "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" reaction to all of the flap/natural tissue options after I researched more into what was involved in them.

    B) The aesthetic results. I just did not like the end result looks of any of the reconstruction options I saw, natural tissue or implant based. That is NOT to say they look 'bad' or anything of the sort just that, for me, I knew I personally wouldn't be happy with the look of any sort of reconstructed breast.

    Having breasts was also just not important to me and was not a big part of my identity; mine were fibrocystic and painful since they grew in, so they were never a 'good' thing for me (and were absolutely not part of my sex life as it was painful to have them touched, let alone squeezed in any capacity) to have and were always a source of stress and pain.

    I just had no attachment to them besides the obvious, 'these awful things are attached to my body' attachment.

    My BMX was prophylactic due to high risk, and I never had any pushback from the general surgeon or the plastic surgeon; the most I got in terms of 'are you sure?' was, "Well, if you decide down the line you want to reconstruct, just be aware that it's always an option."

  • BellasMomToo
    BellasMomToo Member Posts: 93
    edited February 2018
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    Raque: I had a UMX w/o recon. I was already flat-chested (AA cup), but I knew I didn't want breast implants. I strongly considered DIEP cause I could use the tummy-tuck, but I was afraid of the extra recovery time, possible complications, and additional surgeries. And although DIEP isn't supposed to affect the stomach muscles, what if something went wrong an it did affect the stomach muscles -- I could have weight lifting limitations or risk a hernia. (The TRAM flap procedure is similar to DIEP but affects the stomach muscles. I read that the weight limitation is 35 lbs. Since I have a 12+ year old 40 lb dog, I wouldn't want to unncessarily risk not being able to lift her.)

    I'm happy with my decision. I recovered very quickly from my UMX. I wear a silicon prosthetic or knitted knocker. But if I didn't wear it it wouldn't be too noticeable cause I'm so small anyway.

    My Drs were fine with my decision and made it clear that I can always have recon later on.

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,178
    edited February 2018
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    I told my surgeon the first meeting I want both off and no recon. He respected that, just a little push back. The idea of more surgeries more copays hospitals chance for infection and possibly pain, just no. I didn’t even know about possible failure then.

    Lefty was trying to kill me so get rid of both.

    It’s been 5 years, I don’t wear foobs, ever. I’m happy.

  • lisey
    lisey Member Posts: 300
    edited February 2018
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    I was told I was a perfect candidate for Reconstruction, I was slender with natural huge DDs. After being shuttled into the REcon route I was Horrified by what they did to my body. The TEs sucked, they basically cut my pec muscles in half and the main thing was I didn't realize that I'd basically have these foreign mounds on me that I would not be able to feel, get pleasure from or look anything like my real breasts. I got the TEs out and went flat. I was asked if I lost weight, and had so many compliments on how fit and slender I looked with no breasts. The older I get (I'm 42) the more I notice that women my age with smaller breasts do tend to look better and healthier than the large breasts they give you with implants. Older women, in my opinion, just look silly with 'honkers' - I certainly did, and mine were 'real'. Don't believe any plastic surgeon who tells you they can give you small breasts with implants. That is what I was told, and after the surgery, they said, oh.. your frame is for a C, not an A. UGH!!! not what I wanted.

    I appreciate never dealing with bras, and being able to wear a ton of clothing choices I couldn't wear before. Mostly, I just feel normal and back to myself without the foreign things that you can always feel. Plus there's the fact that I'll find any recurrance quicker without the tissue / implant hiding it. There's just so many reasons to consider going flat.




  • Raque510
    Raque510 Member Posts: 15
    edited February 2018
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    If you are married or in a relationship, did your SO make this decision with you? Were they supportive? How did they react when it was done? Has their feelings about it changed over time? Do you wear lingerie? How has your family reacted?

    How long was recovery--especially if you had to get the prophylactic mx and scar/dog-ear revision? I am coming up on my 6mo's post-rads, which means I can schedule surgery soon! But, I will be moving out-of-state in June and will need to be healthy and/or healed enough to help pack, clean, load/unload. I know I should wait until after the move, but, I'm moving away from my family/friend support system.

    Thank you all so much for your answers. I can't tell you how much it helps quiet my circular thinking about this decision!

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited February 2018
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    Raque, I am a lot like Ravzari. Not impressed with the look of recon. Know that having silicone lumps wedged into my chest would ick me out. I sort of considered flap surgery a few times, but it is risky, lengthy etc. Besides, I have virtually no extra tissue anywhere, so doubt I would even be a candidate.

    My bottom line is that none of the recon jobs I have seen would make me comfortable in a nekkid situation, and the rest of the time, prosthetics do the job just fine without surgery, pain etc. I also go flat at times, depends on my mood. Surprisingly few people even notice. My late husband was fine with it, but as a widow now, I am obviously not in a position to have any other men. However, that would be equally true if I had recon, for me that is

  • ravzari
    ravzari Member Posts: 32
    edited February 2018
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    Raque510 I've been married since 2003 and my husband had (and still has) absolutely no say or right to input about what I did. It's my body, not his body, and was entirely my choice.

    His option was to be supportive or move on if he was going to be so superficial about me having or not having breasts that he'd argue for me to get additional surgeries I'd already expressed that I did not want.

    My body is not for his benefit, and I would not even consider going through elective plastic surgery to make my body look how he wanted it to look.

    Fortunately, he didn't marry me because he saw a walking pair of breasts. ;)

    My family also had no say in the matter for the same reasons. My body is my own and it's solely my decision what I do with it, especially when it comes to medical procedures. Their opinion on whether or not I have breasts is so irrelevant and I'd be honestly creeped out if any of them had suggested I "should" have breasts. There is no reason they should care about that.

    They were worried as any family would be about the actual surgery part, because things can and do go wrong even with routine surgeries, but that was about it.

    I didn't really wear much lingerie prior as I found most of it to be uncomfortable, expensive, and pointless; my husband wasn't a big fan of it either, especially since it was obvious I wasn't comfortable (physically) wearing it.


    As for moving, you'd probably want to give yourself at least 3-4 months of healing time if you'll be moving without help; you'll have lifting restrictions for 6-8 weeks after the surgery as well.


    I did have one revision to some dog ears and for some fat necrosis (and my PS was nice enough to lipo out my 'bra rolls'--the fat under my arms--and call it part of the revision, so it was covered by insurance!), and honestly the recovery from the liposuction they did on my chest was more painful than the recovery from the initial BMX. They weren't kidding when they talked about swelling and bruising from lipo and I ended up wearing the compression vest I'd worn after my BMX for a good 5 weeks after the chest/bra roll lipo. It was bruised, it stung, and it ached for a few weeks after it was done and definitely made me drop any considerations I might have had for lipo on stubborn fat areas I can never seem to lose as, nah, not worth the pain for me. :)

    The dog ear excision healed fine with minimal pain; it did make the scar longer on one side, but that's not a big deal to me.

  • lisey
    lisey Member Posts: 300
    edited February 2018
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    I've been married for 14 years and hubby happily was supportive no matter what I chose. We miss the nipples, but even nipple saving doesn't mean you can feel them, and thus what's the point. He has one less tool in his bag of tricks so to speak, but he find other ways to keep the romance happening. I honestly think if you OWN it, people around will be cool no matter what you choose. If you waver and wiffle about, they will sense your insecurity and may pick up on that negativity themselves. I'm pretty confident so I don't think I even asked anyone else what I should do - just did what the docs said iniitially and what I felt in my heart after that.

    I had one family friend say I was losing my 'moneymakers' and I called him an asshole who's so used to stripclubs he's clueless where my money actually comes from! (I'm a professional artist). Then I think I mentioned good thing your penis size isn't corralated to his earning potential. He shut up after that. You just have to be confident and own your body, Remember it's the paintbrush to make the masterpiece, not the masterpiece itself. Our bodies are tools, nothing more.

    Hubby compliments my ass now and is very effusive with his admiration of my new body. I also do my best to own it by not hiding the flatness and wearing tight tanks with yoga pants around the house. It's comfy and looks good!

  • Icietla
    Icietla Member Posts: 321
    edited February 2018
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    Hi Raque510. We had been married for thirty-two years, in our relationship for near thirty-seven years by then. No, my spouse's only input has been that he wants me to live. No members of my family of origin know of my having breast cancer.

    I do not wear bras. For the last two years prior to my breast cancer diagnosis, I was no longer able to use rear-closure bras without assistance, and I had been struggling even to use front-closure bras. I keep my chest covered except when I am bathing, changing clothes, or having a clinical examination.

  • Raque510
    Raque510 Member Posts: 15
    edited February 2018
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    Thank you all again, so, so much! You have helped me find the courage to accept what I want for myself.

    I have known what I want for myself for a long time. I, like some of you, have never been "attached" to my boobs. I spent many years feeling like walking breasts (at 5'2, 34DD). After this diagnosis, and UMX, I realize that I have this choice and this chance. I don't want reconstruction. It wouldn't be for me. It would be for everyone else. To me, it feels like DEconstruction. I suppose so is getting a prophylactic mx and skin removal. But being asymmetrical is too emotionally taxing for me--if I was smaller, it would be a different story but it is what it is. I want to go flat to get whole again and stop having to focus on this one part of my body I've never been able to embrace or escape. Hallelujah.

    My husband is incredibly supportive of whatever I choose. He's seen the "after" pictures of flap surgery and had mixed reactions. Some he recoiled at. Some he thought were pretty damn good. He's seen pictures of flat women and exclaimed, "Still beautiful!" He's loved me and my body through pregnancy and childbirth, weight gain and loss, cancer. I am truly doing both of us a disservice by questioning or doubting his love and devotion. It really is easy to project your own doubts onto others than to face and overcome them. I'll have to really learn to love this body and as Lisey so succinctly put it, value it as the tool it is meant to be.