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How many reconstructive surgeries are too many?


I've had a setback with my reconstruction and I'm not sure what I want to do. I had a mastectomy on the right side in November 2022 and had a tissue expander placed, which was swapped for an implant in October 2023 after I healed from radiation. I had mild discomfort from the implant even after recovery and wasn't super excited with how it looked, it wasn't very symmetrical with my left side. In April of this year, it became clear that the incision from the implant exchange surgery had become infected (there was cellulitis in the skin) and the implant had to be removed, so now I'm flat. I didn't like the implant much anyway or having a foreign object in my body, and I don't want another infection, so I thought maybe I'd stay flat - but now when I bend over, you can see a weird gap between my prosthesis and my chest wall. Can I live with that? 🤔


  • ratherbesailing
    ratherbesailing Member Posts: 129

    So sorry to hear what you've gone through. For what it's worth, I had three surgeries - original DIEP then two revisions (it's usually only one.) At the time, I felt like I was in surgery hell forever, but several years out it is way behind me and I am very happy with the result. Only you know what is important to you. But don't be afraid to pursue a result you are happy with - whatever that is.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 5,072

    ”Only you know what is important to you. But don't be afraid to pursue a result you are happy with - whatever that is.”

    That is excellent advice!

  • bcincolorado
    bcincolorado Member Posts: 4,712

    I did my left side only and kept one as "me". The PS offered to do a reduction and "lift to make it more the same at the same time but at that point I was so over surgery and felt less was better. Been married forever and figured being alive was better and at this this point just do not care if I am all lopsided at all and neither does DH . Everyone has to do what feels right to them. Some do flat and know people who have done that as well. Knew one I had no idea she had even had cancer at all and thought it was just how she dressed and was a petite person to start with so just thought it was her fashion sense. What you decide it is your choice what makes you feel better.

  • dimples90
    dimples90 Member Posts: 16

    I think you have been given great advice. You should do what is best for you! However, I do understand how hard it is to arrive at that point when you have had a setback.
    I can share my experience with reconstruction after radiation. My PS didn’t do DIEP so it was never brought up to me as an option in the beginning. Radiation can cause problems with implant reconstruction. I waited 6 mos after end of radiation to have expanders removed and implants placed. My incision on the radiated side opened up at home one month after my implants were placed (I had BMX). The PS removed the implant in his office.
    He suggested a LD flap on the radiated side. I went that route and developed severe capsular contracture with expander. At that point, I started reading on this forum about DIEP. Wish I had done my own research before I started but I can’t change that now.
    I really wanted to have reconstruction on my radiated side! Was determined to get it. I went to New Orleans from the PNW for bilateral DIEP. I’m very pleased with my results.
    So, I had 4 reconstruction surgeries after mastectomies with expanders.
    Take your time, do some research about reconstruction after radiation. Good luck!