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Topic: One Side Flat, Other 34H -What Will That Be Like?

Forum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy — Discuss prostheses, swimsuits, bras, and other options for women not having reconstruction or waiting for reconstruction.

Posted on: Feb 4, 2020 07:55PM

KeepRowing wrote:

I have been recently diagnosed with DCIS in my left breast. Since the DCIS is in many locations and over large areas, two BS recommended an unilateral mastectomy. I did meet with a PS and he explained reconstruction on one side and a reduction on the healthy 34H breast. Reconstruction or FLAPS do not interest me. At this point, I don't want anymore surgery than necessary. Later this month, I will have only one breast removed and be done.

I have talked with a few women who went this route and they are fine with this decision. But, they have been smaller breasted women. Many say they don't always wear a prosthesis and no one notices. Don't think this will work for me since I have a LARGE (34H) breast.

Anyone who has a large Uni- do you have regrets? What is the hardest part of this situation? Do you need to have something weighted on the other side for balance?

I am hoping to know the cons ahead of time so I am better prepared. So any tips, tricks, or product recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you!

Dx 12/2019, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, ER+
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Feb 4, 2020 08:06PM MinusTwo wrote:

KeepRowing? How old are you? You might consider a bilateral mastectomy as I did. There was no way I was going to deal with a UNI. Then you will be balanced whether your choose implant reconstruction or staying flat. I was glad I made the BMX decision since they found significant DCIS in the other breast during surgery.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Feb 4, 2020 08:37PM KeepRowing wrote:

Minus Two,

I am 65 and married. My BS brought this up at our first meeting. I was so taken back by this idea, I didn't hear why she said she would only remove the healthy breast in a year, if I wanted. For me, I can't see removing a healthy body part. Since that time, my BS has said she would perform a BMX now, if I wanted.

I want to avoid more surgery, but I know that removing the healthy breast or having a reduction on that side is something I can choose in the future.

Dx 12/2019, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, ER+
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Feb 4, 2020 08:47PM MinusTwo wrote:

KeepRowing - yes you absolutely can choose that later.

I was 67 when I was first diagnosed. I chose BMX because I didn't want to go through a 2nd surgery down the road. Also I didn't want to be constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop every year. And as I said, my "healthy" breast turned out to have DCIS that was not spotted on the extensive imaging prior to surgery.

Not to mention how tired I was of heavy breasts and wanting to rip off my bra every time I walked in my front door.

I also chose tissue exanders with exchange to implants in approx 6 months so I could just pull on my clothes & go. And I chose to go smaller. I am still happy with my original decision.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Feb 4, 2020 08:50PM jessie123 wrote:

I have a friend who just had one breast removed a couple of years ago. She does have large breasts and recently told me that she wishes she had had both breast removed because the Prothesis (sp???) she wears is heavy since it is large to match her other breast.

Dx 11/2018, LCIS/ILC, Left, 2cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/21/2019 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 4/14/2019 Whole-breast: Breast
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Feb 4, 2020 10:33PM alto wrote:

I had one breast removed and I was 36D before my surgery. I know it's not very big, but definitely big enough to be noticeable when one is missing. :) I wear a prosthetic with lighter-weight silicone, and I feel comfortable and balanced. I go half-flat around the house.

I was offered a reduction on the remaining breast, but my PS (who I ended up not needing) suggested it could be more complicated and uncomfortable than mastectomy surgery.

I've stuck with the remaining breast, and I don't really mind my situation (on the plus side, she's my 'anchor' boob - she holds the bra in place), but I wouldn't mind being flat either. If something went awry in the other breast, I'd just remove it and not look back.

One positive about the 'one breast at a time' approach is you'll have better use of the non-surgery side of your body in the weeks after surgery, and only have to do PT on one side. It makes things easier, but then again, not a deal-breaker if you have help and patience for a few weeks.

I was on the line between one and just getting it all done - just lost my nerve a little after having 2 surgeries already, and a doctor and husband that didn't see a need to nix breast #2. So I went minimal.

If you can't decide, another option might be to just have one removed, and revisit once you know what it's like to live with one breast.

It can be confusing to have options in this situation, but I think all options are workable. If you have a preference one way or another, go for it. If not, try one that you feel comfortable with, and if it doesn't work out well enough, you can explore options from there.

Diagnosed at 42. Had symptoms of Paget's for years prior to positive biopsy. No Tamox because low% ER. Dx 11/2/2018, Paget's, Right, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Surgery 11/10/2018 Lumpectomy: Right Dx 11/29/2018, DCIS/Paget's, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 12/18/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx 12/21/2018, DCIS, Right, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR- Surgery 1/16/2019 Mastectomy: Right
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Feb 5, 2020 11:13AM - edited Jul 4, 2020 01:37PM by buttonsmachine

KeepRowing, my bra size is similar to yours, and I am half flat now. I'll weigh in here just to give you another perspective.

Basically, being half flat with a large remaining breast has been okay for me, but it took time to find a comfortable prosthetic that wasn't too heavy.

For me, the pros of NOT having another surgery outweigh the cons of being half flat - at least for now. I like that my left arm and shoulder are still strong, pain free, have sensation, and no lymphedema. My cancer side has never been totally right again after my surguries.

I'm glad I still have an "unaffected" side. I value function and being pain free very highly. I was concerned that being lopsided would cause pain, but personally I don't find that it does. I usually wear a prosthetic though, unless I'm home alone, so maybe that helps me stay balanced.

I don't totally rule out getting reconstruction one day - but right now I'm not a candidate for it, and I don't want unnecessary pain or complications.

My advice to you would be to see how you feel after you heal from the surgery you need - you can always do the other side later, or get a reduction, or whatever.

Best wishes for your decision.

Diagnosed at 32. Local recurrences in skin one year later due to needle seeding at initial biopsy. Dx 8/2016, IDC, Right, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/2017, IDC, Right, Grade 3, 2/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 6, 2020 10:30PM KeepRowing wrote:

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and reaching out to me. This is a big decision. Right now, I keep coming back to the idea to have the least amount of surgery I can. I am not looking forward to wearing a large and possibly a heavy prosthesis on one side. Who knows, it might not be a bad as I think. I have heard there are many different kinds of prostheses out there to try. If this doesn't work for me, I do have the option down the road of going flat on the other side too.

Dx 12/2019, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, ER+
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Feb 7, 2020 06:00AM Lucy55 wrote:

I had a single mastectomy in 2014 ...Most of the time I just popped my prophesies in my bra , and didn't think about it until I had my shower at night and put my PJ's on...and I'd realise I was lop-sided...so last September I had the other mastectomy ...for 2 reasons ...to feel balanced , and to remove the stress of yearly scans ...and to tell the truth I LOVE being flat .If it's hot , and I'm at home working in the garden I go flat , and if I'm going out I wear my prophesies ..It's my choice ...we are all different , and must do what's right for ourselves .





Dx 8/27/2014, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 9/14/2014
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Feb 7, 2020 09:13AM purple32 wrote:

May I ask all of you the TIME frame in which you recovered by not having recon? I was considering Left Mast with immed recon until today and am now thinking maybe just L Mastectomy. (Im smaller btw ) I am a a little freaked out at the moment. Anything discouraging is mot welcome at this time. THX for your understanding and patience !

Laurie

LE on left from 5.12.12.LX DX 3/2012 IDC <1 cm stage 1 GR 1 ( 0/2 nodes) ER PR pos HER2- Dx 3/2012, IDC, Left, <1cm, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 5/1/2012 Lumpectomy: Left
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Feb 9, 2020 03:09PM Aussie-Cat wrote:

purple32, I sympathise with the difficult decisions you need to make and the situation you find yourself in. There are so many different aspects of recovery but it definitely takes less time to recover if a woman doesn't have reconstruction. I had bilateral prophylactic mastectomies in June 2018, so no nodes removed. I was able to lift my arms above my head the next day and go for a walk to the shops after a few of days because I only had drains for 4 days. Most women have them for longer. I didn't feel that my movement was restricted but I spent several weeks having to lie on my back in bed. I felt tired and took painkillers for a while. Are you thinking of any particular aspects of recovery? Are you thinking about when you can go back to work, drive or go to the gym? Maybe someone else could answer those questions. I hope that you can find the right decision for you.

Diagnosed with nerve pain (post mastectomy pain syndrome) July 2018. Twin sister died of breast cancer May 2019. Surgery 6/19/2018 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right
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Feb 10, 2020 10:25PM - edited Feb 10, 2020 10:29PM by alto

Aussie-Cat, that is an awesome recovery!

***

KeepRowing, there are a lot of great prosthetic options out there. My favorite brand has at least 3 different weights - normal, lightweight, super lightweight. And some women use beanbag forms that are super light (probably not good for balance long term, but perfectly fine if you just need a break).

***

Purple32, I think a lot of people who don't have recon are in good shape in 3-4 weeks.

For me,
Week 1 - I was tired and achey; can't do much around the house (weak arms, restrictions); able to make very short trips out (not driving)
Week 2 - Drains came out, tired with mild tightness but "getting better"; able to get out for an hour or two here or there; driving at end of wk 2
Week 3 - Feel more healed, getting back my range of motion, starting to feel more normal (just a bit emotional); able to get out for 3-4 hours without getting too fatigued
Week 4 - Returned to work

I had to wait a couple more weeks beyond that to be comfortable wearing a prosthetic. I just wore some pillow stuffing in the meantime and was quite comfortable with that.

It's good to think about the short-term; but consider the end result you want, too. Recovery stinks, but it passes, and you get back to life.

Depending on the kind of recon you have, I've heard it could be 6 weeks or longer (and additional, likely smaller surgeries). Some of those with implants below the pecs talk about longer-term discomfort and adjustment.

I must admit, I was happy to get back to my life ASAP and did not care about boobs as much as being comfortable. The extra work and maintenance didn't seem worth it to me, but I know that's not how everyone feels.


Diagnosed at 42. Had symptoms of Paget's for years prior to positive biopsy. No Tamox because low% ER. Dx 11/2/2018, Paget's, Right, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Surgery 11/10/2018 Lumpectomy: Right Dx 11/29/2018, DCIS/Paget's, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 12/18/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx 12/21/2018, DCIS, Right, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR- Surgery 1/16/2019 Mastectomy: Right
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Mar 7, 2020 07:25PM Sunshine99 wrote:

KeepRowing, one idea for a prosthesis is to contact Knitted Knockers. They give away knitted breast prostheses for no cost. I've made a few of them and mailed them to the group. The last time I watched their video tutorial, they only went up to a size G. However, if you contacted them, they might be able to make you one (or give you the pattern) in a size H. They're super light weight. I'm a A/B cup and I found the silicone prosthesis to be hot, sticky and uncomfortable. If you enjoy knitting (or have a friend who knits) you could probably even make one yourself, like I did :).

Their website is www.knittedknockers.org I thought their video was inspiring

I'm one sided and opted for no reconstruction.

All the best to you.

Cancer has progressed to my bones. I pray that it never enters my soul. Dx 11/2/2007, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 3/26/2020, ILC/IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) Hormonal Therapy 4/22/2020 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 5/5/2020 External: Bone Radiation Therapy 5/12/2020 External: Bone Targeted Therapy 6/10/2020 Ibrance (palbociclib)

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