May 26, 2021 07:20PM Yuuki wrote:
I had silicone implants for 16 years until I had a local recurrence followed by radiation that caused painful capsular contracture on the radiated side, so I had the implants out and replaced with autologous tissue (DIEP procedure). I have been generally fine overall with both.
You say you're not a candidate for DIEP, but don't mention why. At the time of my first diagnosis I probably wasn't either (it was a rare new procedure then, TRAM being more common, but I didn't have a lot of spare tissue to work with in either case). However, things can change a lot between initial reconstruction and the time you would need a replacement set of implants: you might become a better candidate for autologous tissue surgery, or new surgical techniques may come along that make the procedure more possible or palatable - so it may be on the table for you at another, later time. I was a better candidate for the autologous tissue by the time I would have needed an exchange.
If you do need an implant exchange later, I am told it's a pretty straightforward procedure.
As to the maintenance and the feel, the implants were fine up until I had the radiation-induced complications. On my chest, I wasn't terribly conscious of having a foreign object in my body - in fact, there wasn't a lot of feeling there at all. To the hand, they felt a bit firmer than the real thing, a bit flatter up front, and not as warm, though none of this troubled me. The surprise bonus was the bra was built-in and I could simply wear a cami (or even nothing at all) under my clothes and no one was the wiser. I did put on around 10-15 pounds during the intervening 16 years and pregnancies, and it was nice to have something up top to balance out a bit of belly pooch.
Would I do it over again? Yes, even knowing I would end up with the DIEP down the line (I am also very happy with that, though I can't get away without the bra any more). For me, being able to wear most clothing without alterations would have been a bonus to "going flat" - dresses, jackets, and blouses are usually designed with a bit of something built into the assumptions. But your mileage may vary.
Hope this is helpful! Best of luck to you,