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Bilateral Mastectomy with Immediate Reconstruction

Hello,

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and started Chemo last week. I've asked for a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction using implants. I'm worried about the recovery. I've never had any surgeries before. I'm in my early 30s, so the bilateral makes sense to me.

Are there any tips anyone can offer? Assuming everything remains on track I'll have the surgery in July/August this year.

Comments

  • snm
    snm Member Posts: 72
    edited February 22

    @jodemichael7

    Sorry that you have to go through this. I posted the following about my journey. You might find some helpful info but please remember everyone's journey is different.

    "Tips for Bilateral Mastectomy with Immediate Tissue Expander AND Implant Exchange"

    Edited by Mods to make link above clickable.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,887

    Hi @jodemichael7, and welcome again to Breastcancer.org.

    We're so sorry for the reasons that bring you here, but we're really glad you've found us. As you can already see, our Community is full of members always willing to offer help, advice, information, encouragement, and support — we're all here for you!

    In addition to the helpful link @snm provided, we wanted to point out this page all about Immediate Reconstruction.

    We hope this helps. Please let us know how else we can support you!

    —The Mods

  • atlantacatmama43
    atlantacatmama43 Member Posts: 2

    Hi @jodemichael7, I am scheduled for bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction using silicone implants on March 27. Feel free to reach out mid-April and I will be happy to share my thoughts on how it went and what recovery items I actually found useful. I suspect I have majorly over-shopped and over-prepared :-) I think shopping has been a bit of a coping mechanism while I wait a month for surgery.

    After surgery, I will have chemo, likely TC, and then radiation.

    How has chemo been going? any tips? I have stage IIB IDC with one positive lymph node. While I don't have a known genetic marker, my mom was 38 (this was bout 1985) when she was diagnosed and underwent treatment, so there probably is a genetic component at play. She had a single mastectomy and all lymph nodes removed on her right side with a saline implant after chemo. She is now 76 and happily has never had a recurrence or any issues with her implant. I am 43 and my tumor is a bit bigger than hers, but I feel very good about the outcome after putting in the work of treatment.

    I have also chosen bilateral even though my cancer is only in the left breast and lymph nodes. It makes me feel better knowing I wont have to worry about a second breast cancer down the road and a better cosmetic outcome, especially over time as they will age the same. Please feel free to reach out anytime!

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,737

    I had a bmx with one step implants (no TE’s) over 12 years ago. While I don’t remember every little detail, two things stick out in my mind. First, the whole surgery and immediate post surgical period was far easier and pain free than I could have ever imagined. Second, I was surprised by how mobile I was and how many things I could do! I was also surprised by how easily I tired.
    Surgery and recovery are different for everyone but most of us imagine far worse than it actually turns out to be.

    I will say one thing and I don’t want to upset anyone but I think being honest about breast cancer is important. A bmx certainly greatly reduces the risk of developing bc again since there is virtually no breast tissue left. However, it does not completely eliminate the chance nor does it preclude metastasis even after treatment. We have come a long way in treating bc but we still haven’t prevented it or cured it*. Take care

    *From stage 0 to stage III, despite surgery and treatment recurrence is always possible. We use the word cure but when it comes to bc, absence of recurrence would be more accurate.

  • l8blmr
    l8blmr Member Posts: 67

    My post bilateral recovery was more about getting used to the drains and finding a comfortable position to sleep than the pain. Follow the post-op instructions; no lifting, can't raise your arms over your head, etc. Like atlantacat, I shopped and had a supply of zip front sports bras & walk around clothes that were easy to put on. When one friend asked what she could do to help me, I asked her to wash & blow dry my hair. Utilize any one who offers to help-sometimes that's hard for us ladies to do, but now is the time. All the best.

  • jodemichael7
    jodemichael7 Member Posts: 2
    edited March 13

    Thank you everyone for the tips and feedback.

    I am 3 AC down and 1 to go. Followed by 12 weekly tax. So far, not too bad honestly. Worst side effect I believe is from steroids-insomnia! I have been using the penguin cold cap and so far (fingers crossed) I still have all my hair.

    I've never had surgery, so I'm pretty nervous. I'm quite a baby when it comes to pain.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,737

    Ah, pain… as I mentioned previously, I was very surprised by how little pain I had, though we are all different. My one bit of advice is to stay ahead of the pain. Particularly in the first few post surgery days, take the prescribed pain meds and don’t wait to be in pain as it’s more difficult to manage. By day three or four post surgery, I experimented with not taking prescription pain meds (they constipate me) and took Tylenol which worked well at that point. Most folks don’t need or like the prescription meds for very long but they are very useful for a short period of time. Take care

  • herb
    herb Member Posts: 56

    I had my BMX February 27th 2024. I did very well with pain from surgery. Only took the pain meds and nerve pain meds for a week. Then nerve pain meds and muscle relaxers for 2nd week. Then nothing till expansions. The expander pain after fills are pretty intense for 3 days. I take my mucle relaxers for 3 days. To prepare I had a bidet installed on my toilet. It was one of the vest tools I got. I found a hair salon to wash my hair and blow dry. Cost was $5,w tip I gave 10. Went once a week until drains removed. after that I could was my own hair. I used body wipes to wipe off my skin when I had drains. I have 3 more expansions left.