Post Surgical Garments after Breast Reconstruction

Post Surgical Garments after Breast Reconstruction Post Surgical garments after breast reconstruction are part of the healing process. This is a photo I took on my computer  of a page taken directly out of the Breast Reconstruction Planner from my surgical group, PRMA in San Antonio. They are very comprehensive in helping you plan every step of the way but I wanted you to hear an experience from a patient’s standpoint. Are they glamorous? No, but you learn to conceal their bulkiness with accessorizing! Here is a picture of my nurse, Denise, and me and you can visibly see the outline of my drains but you don’t see any of the garments.  Are they comfortable? They’re not uncomfortable but they are a bit bulky and the abdominal binder, if you’ve had DIEP flap surgery, tends to move around a bit after you have had it on and are going about Continue Reading →

Body Image After Mastectomy

Dealing with Body Image After a Mastectomy Body image after mastectomy is difficult for many women. I went through this myself after a bilateral double mastectomy. It is my own definition but I define women who live with mastectomies, “hidden amputees”. No one sees that you are missing body parts when you wear prosthesis. No one feels what you feel each time you see a reflection of yourself in the mirror or try to pick out something that will look feminine or sexy when you want to step out for a social event. No one truly understands the desire you have to just magically want the clock to turn back before you had to have your breasts removed due to cancer. No one, that is, unless you’ve lived with this yourself. What was your personal choice? How did a mastectomy change your body image and how have you dealt with Continue Reading →

Exercise After Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Going in DIEP! Exercise after breast reconstruction surgery is a tricky game. You must clear it with your plastic surgeon. Your incisions must be completely healed so that you do not compromise the healing process. One question I asked my PS (plastic surgeon) at my pre-op appointment before the final phase of my reconstruction was when I could get back to swimming. We have a pool in our backyard and I felt it would be good rehab as a post-surgical exercise. His answer, “When you are ready and when the wounds are all healed”. New Sensations and Healing I’ve been working up to this moment today. I emailed the nurse at my plastic surgeon’s office a couple of weeks ago and told her I was feeling some interesting and strange new sensations in my breasts. I couldn’t really put the feelings into words but I think she completely understood. She Continue Reading →

DIEPflap Breast Reconstruction: Aesthetic Questions to Ask Your Plastic Surgeon

DIEPflap Breast Reconstruction: Aesthetic Questions to Ask Your Plastic Surgeon DIEPflap breast reconstruction & aesthetic questions to ask your plastic surgeon involves more than  you may or may not have given much thought to.  You have had a mastectomy due to breast cancer. You have tested positive for the BRCA gene and are facing the decision to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy to significantly decrease your chances of getting breast cancer. Perhaps you are even going in for a consult to repair damage done at another practice and are looking for better results.  Now you’re researching and thinking about breast reconstruction options. You found a board certified plastic surgeon with great skill and a high rate of success. The consult appointment has been set up. You write down as many questions as you can and hope beyond hope that you will be given the time to have all of them Continue Reading →

The Perfect Breast Shape and Plastic Surgery

How I got to the “Breast” Shape Ever Twitter is such a valuable tool for me. A year ago my Twitter account was full of nothing but educational websites. I returned to school to attain my M.Ed. and I used it for the sole purpose of gathering information about the latest “speak” in education. I did not tweet, like, retweet, or DM (direct message). I only lurked and learned. The lurking and learning changed in October of 2014. School ended for me to focus on my health.  My Twitter account went from education to all things breast cancer and breast reconstruction. I entered the world of plastic surgery as a breast reconstruction patient after undergoing a double mastectomy following a second breast cancer diagnosis. It was a world I was unfamiliar with and had much to learn about both on an academic and emotional level. I was now following, being Continue Reading →

Surgical Drains

A Bit of Self-deprecating Humor Never Hurts Just When I Thought I’d Take a Day Off The first time I wrote about surgical drains and posted this was a Friday.  So here I go again…. do overs!  Enjoy the re-post and fair warning, I love Funday Friday so it might not be the last time you see this post! It’s Friday afternoon.  I swore I was going to take today off.  No writing today, even though I had tons of ideas floating around in my head.  Stay away from the computer.  Well, here I am.  I am inspired to write from others most of the time and today is no exception.  Social Media made me do it.  Care of surgical drains was posted today both by my surgeon and his surgical group.  I always felt like it was a topic I needed to cover in a post so today is Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Surgery Phase 1 ~ Returning Home

DIEP flap Surgery Phase 1 ~ Returning Home There are several steps and preparations to be made for DIEP flap surgery, phase 1.  We spend a lot of time preparing for the actual surgery but it is important to think about what it will be like when you return home.   I will share my own personal experience and give you some helpful hints and preparations if this is the type of reconstruction you have chosen. Protect the Work of Art It does not matter if you travel to have your reconstruction, as I did, or if you will be having it done in the same town that you live in. You are going to need support from either friends or family when you return home from the hospital after your surgery. Remember, you are going to have an abdominal incision that runs from hip bone to hip bone. You will Continue Reading →

Healing Scars

Healing Scars Healing scars after any surgery is a frequently discussed topic for those of us who have been through it.  One gentleman, Dennis Maione posted and wrote a blog on scars. The word scar derives from the Greek eskhara, scab. In the present day English language it can be both a noun and a verb. Noun – a mark left on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn, or sore has not healed completely and fibrous connective tissue has developed. Verb – a lasting effect of grief, fear, or other emotion left on a person’s character by a traumatic experience  Scar – Noun The first definition, a noun, describes fibrous, connective tissue developing. When you think about it in those terms it implies building and getting stronger, fibrous/connective. I still have very young scars from the three surgeries that I have had this past year. The Continue Reading →

DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery~ Phase 2

Video

DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery ~ Phase 2

PRMA has been kind enough to film this video so that I can explain  DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery, phase 2.  My hope is that this will help other women in preparing and what to expect as you recover from phase 2, the revision and symmetry part of your DIEP flap surgery.  No matter where your surgery is performed I hope the information helps in your planning and the questions you might have going into this part of your breast reconstruction.

The Value of Patient Stories

The marketing representative at PRMA, Courtney Floyd, worked hard to film and edit this and other PRMA videos.  When other women can see and hear first-hand the successes of patients it is a direct reflection of the commitment that this Plastic Surgery group has for women as they rebuild their lives after cancer.

Editing Award

Copy of IMG_3396

I have to chuckle a bit when I listen to the video  that I recorded just three days after my revision surgery.  That breathing tube during surgery can do a number on your vocal chords and I have what I call my “smoky bar voice” in this video.  I can also see that my eyes are still a bit swollen from the surgery.

You will likely be turned a bit on the surgical table that day because of where the surgeon will have to harvest the fat, in my case, from my thighs.  I jokingly told him I’d be turned like a rotisserie chicken.  I remember a very strong looking surgical tech named Nelson before I was put to sleep.  He’s the one to the far right in this picture!  That was the best team ever!!  I just wanted to look at him, knowing he might be the muscles in the group that day and say, “Turn me gently, Nelson, turn me gently!”

Courtney invited me to be a patient advocate.

I’ll chalk this one up to post surgical grogginess but in the video you will notice at one point I use the word “feminism” when I meant to say”femininity”.  Ah well, the life of a post-surgical patient advocate!   I will attest to the fact that Courtney knows her business when it comes to editing these videos so thank you, Courtney, for “bleeping out” any weirdness going on in my head that day trying to get my words out.  I’m handing you the Oscar for best editing award!

Getting Back to Your Routine

Phase 2 is so much easier than phase 1.  It is the icing on the cake.  I flew in to San Antonio on a Wednesday, had surgery on Friday morning and returned the following Tuesday.  I flew back home by myself.  My sister flew in and was there for this surgery but she had to travel back to her own home town. It is very possible to fly out a couple of days after your surgery.  I personally don’t recommend flying home the day after surgery.  Check with your plastic surgeon’s office and discuss this with them if you are driving or flying.

The only discomfort I experienced was from the bruising due to the liposuction itself which was a known part of the procedure for me.  I describe it more as soreness rather than pain. It was completely manageable and walking and moving helped with the soreness.  You will have a weight limitation post-surgery of ten pounds for a week after surgery, as is the case with most surgeries.  I was out taking walks again after being home just one week.  You cannot sleep on your stomach or side for 4 weeks so get those pillows ready for when you arrive home.  I was driving again a week after surgery, but please note that you must be off pain medication when you return to driving.  In fact, I did the grocery shopping by myself.  Just ask the clerks to “lighten your bags” for you.  Take them in one at a time after you get home. Other than the usual post-surgical fatigue and wearing a compression garment for three weeks it was a relatively seamless procedure for me.

Other details

You can shower the day after surgery.  You will have some swelling in your legs as the fluid and bruising gravitate downward and your body works to absorb the extra fluid from surgery and healing.  Wear compression stockings home on the plane or in the car if you are traveling to reduce the possibility of blood clots.

You will likely feel so much stronger after phase 2 than you did coming home from phase 1 but a word of caution…. DON’T OVER-DO IT!!  Guilty as charged on that one.  I had a bit of a set back at week two and just had to tell myself that I had just been through surgery again.  I slowed down week two. Continue to take walks, drink lots of water, and eat healthy meals. Allowe yourself to take daily naps to let your body rest and heal. Take it easy, ladies and take my advice and don’t go back at it too fast.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your success stories, PRMA!

Traveling for DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

Traveling for  DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction My Journey ~ I traveled over 800 miles for DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery.  Many people, including healthcare providers have asked me, “Why did you travel  to San Antonio, TX for your DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery and what is it like adding that travel component?” To answer the first question, I simply feel that I found the best micro-surgeon in the country to perform my DIEP flap procedure.  This is a highly complex surgery that is successfully performed by few surgeons across the United States.  Many women have to travel to have this surgery performed because of that. I stand firm in my conviction that the group at PRMA in San Antonio are six of the finest micro-surgeons in the United States and I want other women to know that.  The answer to the second question and making those travel plans is  what Continue Reading →