Waiting for Authorization for Breast Reconstruction

Waiting for Authorization for Breast Reconstruction It can take enormous patience for breast cancer patients who are waiting for authorization for their breast reconstruction procedure. I was once there. Now I am an advocate for all options of breast reconstruction after mastectomy. I interact with patients daily. Many times, their questions are a catalyst for topics to write a blog. Amplifying our voices to educate is part of patient advocacy responsibility. I recently received an email from a patient who was denied coverage for a revision phase of her reconstruction. Her plastic surgeon even wrote an appeal, but it was still denied. She reached out to me for help and suggestions about what to do. I take a deep breath when I get these emails and step out of my breast cancer survivor role and put on my patient advocate hat. I don’t want to offer false hope, but I Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Did I make the right choice?

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Did I make the right choice? YES! I did make the right choice having DIEP flap breast reconstruction! Each December marks another year and anniversary of my DIEP flap surgery. I remember so much about the dark, cool, morning we left for the hospital. I was calm, prepared, and ready December 1, 2014. The time between my double mastectomy in mid-May of 2014 and my breast reconstruction were some of the most trying days of my life. In 2002, after my first breast cancer diagnosis, I had been through 2 surgeries, eighteen weeks of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of daily radiation. This was physically demanding because I was so sick and felt so weak. Fast forward twelve years to 2014. Waiting for my breast reconstruction was psychologically trying. Each month that passed after my double mastectomy only decreased my self-image as a woman due to Continue Reading →

This is What Happens through DIEP flap Connections

This is What Happens through DIEP flap Connections Education about breast reconstruction options after breast cancer and mastectomy: This is what happens through DIEP flap connections. Two women living in two different parts of the country, one surgeon, a plastic surgery team, and a desire by all to educate and inform! I traveled to have my DIEP flap breast reconstruction in December of 2014 at PRMA in San Antonio, Texas. I was connected to another woman, Rhonda, now a “breast friend”, through PRMA when she became interested in DIEP flap. I was part of the Pink Ladies Support Group at PRMA.  This group speaks to other women about their own experience and traveling to have DIEP flap. Rhonda, like me, was interested in booking her surgery with Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo. I received the following email the morning of January 25, 2016. Hey gals!  Dr. C has an out of state Continue Reading →

Honoring my Father During my DIEPflap Surgery

Honoring my Father During my DIEPflap Surgery This is a perfect weekend to write a tribute honoring my Father and his support during my DIEPflap surgery.  My father is in his late 80’s now so watching me go through DIEPflap breast reconstruction two and half years ago was not an easy process for him.  He knew nothing about this type of surgery.  My Dad’s generation and friends who had radical mastectomies and survived breast cancer never knew of the options to rebuild one’s breasts after they had to be removed after a breast cancer diagnosis.  It was just assumed that the loss was part of the plan and how you would continue to live your life. I gently guided Dad and Mom through the process and why I chose to have DIEPflap breast reconstruction after my second breast cancer diagnosis.  I will admit, it was tough.  His main concern for Continue Reading →

My Double Mastectomy: Three Years Later

Double Mastectomy: Three Years Later May 15, 2014, I was sitting in a hospital room recovering from a double mastectomy.  Why am I smiling so much in the photo?  The answer: I just finished a phone conversation with my parents.  They live a little over one thousand miles from me.  I couldn’t believe how little pain I was in and how good I felt.  It was important to me that they hear my voice. Both my Mother and Father were in disbelief that I was calling them. Just 24 hours before, they were on alert at their home waiting for the phone call to let them know I was out of surgery and doing well.  When I mentioned to them I was heading home in a couple of hours after the call, they were even more surprised.  I could hear the sense of relief in their voices over the phone. Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits

Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits A question was posed to me recently about breast reconstruction travel and post-op visits. The question was this: Terri – when you traveled for your DIEP, did you travel back/ forth for all the follow up visits also?  So, wondering how all the follow up visits go in a situation like this? How long did you stay in SA while recovering? It is an important question to ask. I had the same question before my own DIEP flap surgery.  DIEP flap is a very specialized breast reconstruction surgery using the patient’s own tissue.  There are few qualified micro-surgeons who perform it with a high rate of success and have amassed a great number of flap surgeries performed.  When the numbers are extrapolated, there is not even one in every state.  It makes sense, then, that to find a highly-qualified micro-surgeon, patients frequently must travel for Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Sights and Sounds of the Hospital

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Sights and Sounds of the Hospital Your senses can become fine tuned to the sights and sounds of the hospital stay after your DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  Whether you have been in hospital before or not there are many things to deal with when you are out of the comfortable environment of your own home and bed.  Our five senses, taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing, connect us to everything around us.  Let’s look at what that means while recovering from DIEP flap breast reconstruction during your hospital stay. Tastes The taste that you have in your mouth post-surgery can only be described by the individual.  My perception is one of a medicinal, antiseptic taste.  You have been anesthetized for a long period and the drugs used will linger on the tongue.  Your mouth will be dry and you will not be allowed fluids of any kind Continue Reading →

Recap #PSTM16

Recap #PSTM16 Plastic Surgery the Meeting may seem like a distant memory but a recap of #PSTM16 from a patient advocate standpoint summarizes the value of my first experience as an attendee.  It was a fast and furious weekend for me at the Los Angeles Convention Center since I was only able to attend Friday through Monday.  I scheduled classes to attend, met with plastic surgeons, and walked the vendor floor learning about products specific to breast reconstruction. The Educational Programs The first class I attended was one that focused on Cultural Competence in plastic surgery.  I wanted to step outside the box of breast reconstruction a bit and understand the broader world of plastic surgery.  It was a valuable instructional course.  The discussion given by a variety of plastic surgeons at this session focused on recognizing and embracing cultural diversity in the workplace among plastic surgery co-workers as well Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Recovery

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Recovery Fat grafting after breast reconstruction recovery is a much quicker process especially if you have had DIEP flap surgery.  Phase one is typically a six week recovery.  The fat grafting surgery is typically day surgery and you will be back home or back at your lodging that evening if you have traveled for the procedure. I addressed the side effects of anesthesia here.  Another post written about post surgical garments after fat grafting can be read here.  I wanted to outline some common side effects of the fat grafting procedure and what you can expect in this blog. Fatigue during Recovery When you wake up from surgery you will be shaking off the anesthesia and will feel fatigued for a period of roughly a week.  This will depend on each individual and the extent of the surgery.  We each bounce back at different rates and Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Garments

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Garments Fat grafting breast reconstruction garments will vary depending on your particular procedure and where the fat is taken from to be injected back into your breasts.  The practice of using compression garments also varies among plastic surgeons. Fat grafting is done to achieve symmetry after implants are placed or autologous flap surgery is done.  There are often areas that have a look of indentation or a divot after phase one of DIEP flap or after implants are placed for breast reconstruction.  These are the areas that benefit from fat grafting. It was my experience that a fuller, smoother and more uniform look to my breasts was achieved from both of my fat grafting procedures.   The appearance of your breasts when you wake up from surgery will be slightly different after six months due to a couple of factors; you are swollen after surgery and some Continue Reading →