implants when you have to have radiation
I had a mastectomy one month ago with expander placed at time of surgery. I have not needed to take any pain meds post surgery- I have a pretty high tolerance to pain- but the expander is terribly uncomfortable and aesthetically doesn't look anything like a breast, very tight and constricting under my armpit—I think maybe the expander is stitched in there. After a month I am getting somewhat used to it and getting range of motion of arm back. I know the flap surgery is recommended if you have radiation but I really don't want to have another major surgery and so I was planning on getting implants. Unfortunately I also have to have radiation and have learned that the two do not go together well. The thought of having to wait after radiation and having the expander in for eight months seems unbearable. A couple of weeks ago my plastic surgeon recommended replacing the expander with the silicone implant prior to radiation instead of after. He consulted with my radiologist and breast surgeon and they said it was okay to do it in that order, even though it is not usually done that way. But the oncologist said don't do that— you will wind up with capsular contraction and it will be awful. The Plastic Surgeon says the risk of that happening is the same whether you do it before or after the radiation and the benefit is that he doesn't have to cut into radiated skin to put in the implant—the risk of infection when cutting into radiated skin is high. But the more I find out, the more I feel that the implant is too risky, but all the other options- flap surgery or going flat-seem equally horrible. Has anyone had the implant put in before radiation and what was the result? I am feeling so overwhelmed by all of this, and it is especially hard when you are getting different messaging from your doctors. I am scheduled to have the implants put in next week and I am panicking!