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Jun 28, 2013 11:27AM
Hi cgesq, you're right, probably not too many people get to try two different types of reconstruction, so I will share my experiences. I originally chose a tram flap after my first mastectomy, because I wanted to wake up from surgery with a breast and I wanted to use my own tissue, I did not want implants. I really did not have much pain at all in my breast area, most pain was from the abdominal part of the surgery, my incision was from hip to hip and the abdominal weakness took some getting used to. It was hard to get up and down and move around (like to get comfortable in bed), kind of like having your muscles cut from a hysterectomy. I somehow did lose my hysterectomy scar in the process though, so that's a good thing. I had to wear a binder to give some support. It did kind of freak me out how my upper abdomen felt after having the muscle pulled up under my skin along with the flap to make the new breast, you could see where it turned. I still do not have full sensation in that area, even a year and a half out. I have dog ears on my sides which have kind of bugged me, but my PS is revising them next Tuesday when he does the skin grafts for my nipples. I have always been happy with my reconstructed breast, it is nice and soft and feels and looks very natural. It even has some natural droop now. So all in all, very happy with this breast and the surgery is for the most part just a memory.
I was pretty much in shock when I found out that I needed a second mastectomy just 10 months later. It really threw me for a loop. I could have had a lumpectomy I suppose, but just really didn't want to fool around with the possibility of having to repeat the whole mammogram, biopsy, surgery in the future. Any way I chose the lat flap so I would have a better match for my tram side. I thought I went through all the trouble to have the tram to have a natural looking breast, so I decided to have the lat flap with a small implant, because the tram is a one shot deal. My PS (who is just the best) told me I could go to a surgeon in Columbus and see about one of the other flap surgeries if I did not want an implant, because our hospital is not equipped for that type of surgery, but I didn't even want to think of being away from home for the surgery and I did not want to change surgeons. I was still pretty much in shock about having a second major surgery and was under a lot of stress which I think contributed to me getting shingles the week before surgery. It was on the opposite side of my back from where I was having surgery, so my BS treated me with an anti-viral and after consulting with my PS, decided to go ahead with the surgery. My surgery was long - 7 1/2 hours and I was in a lot of pain afterwards. For some reason, my catheter was removed after surgery and I had to get up to use the bathroom right from the start, not fun, because my underarm area was so sore. On the second day, my back got real sweaty and I broke out in little blisters over my entire back which just added to the fun. I also had horrible itching, so I had pain, blisters, itching and was taking, morphine, percocet, benadryl and steroids and feeling very sorry for myself. Probably the worst I have ever felt. I think I was run down from having shingles and the blisters were just not fun. I was in the hospital for four days and went home with four drains. I did have a tissue expander put in, but my PS was able to completely fill it during surgery and I never had to have a fill. A couple of the drains did stay in for awhile which kind of bugged me, and the surgery did trigger a bout of depression and anxiety, so I was not a happy camper for awhile. All that being said, I am glad I had the lat flap surgery, I am happy with my symmetry. I honestly think most of my problems were caused by having shingles and the allergic reaction afterwards, so I don't think my experience is typical at all, and I think I would have been in pretty good shape if not for those complications. So, I'm 7 months out from my lat surgery and at this point do not feel any weakness in my back or any loss of ability to do anything I am used to doing, so no complaints there. I did have numbness under my arm, but that is pretty much gone.
I had my exchange surgery in March and as I've said I'm getting scar revisons and nipples created next week, so I'm pretty excited about that, I've been waiting quite a while.
And call it an angel, call it a muse And call it karma that you've got comin' to you What's the difference? What's in a name? What matters most is never ever losin' faith 'Cause it's gonna be alright, you're not alone tonight
12/2/2011, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+
1/3/2012 Mastectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Right; Reconstruction (right): Free TRAM flap
1/20/2012 Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
10/10/2012, DCIS, Stage 0
11/15/2012 Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Latissimus dorsi flap, Tissue expander placement
3/12/2013 Reconstruction (left)
7/2/2013 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction