Plastic Surgeon Visit – Misconceptions

12 Apr
This post is for those that want to have a better understanding of what this part of the journey is like.  I tried to be as discreet as possible because this is a personal subject, but in order for others to understand what a woman goes through at this point I had to dig in a little in order to describe it.  It is very hard for me to even type the word “implant” because it is embarrassing to me….I even tried to figure out a different word to use, but couldn’t come up with anything.  So, here goes.  If you are a man and your wife is going through breast reconstruction you need to read my post before you go to your appointment. If you are just reading this because you are curious I ask that you stop reading when it gets to the more detailed section (below the picture of the flower) as this was hard for me to write and I only wrote it to help others who are going through this.
Yesterday Kevan and I had our visit with the Plastic Surgeon.  She is only a little older than me so it did seem a little strange, but I realize I’m getting older and doctors will start getting younger.  :o)  Before the visit, I thought we would go to her office, feel the different implant options and then choose the “size” we want.  I thought it would be an easy visit because isn’t it every women’s dream to be able to choose her chest size?  NOT!  That is not at all how it was.   I don’t know if it is just me or if this would be the case for any woman that is having reconstruction surgery.  It was a hard visit.
I was already exhausted by the time we arrived there so I know that didn’t help.  It took us about 2 hours to drive to Nashville due to the traffic, we only had time to eat a little snack before we arrived and I have not been able to sleep past about 4am lately.  So, I’m sure all of this contributed to my emotions.  
It was a VERY nice office.  They gave me a plush robe to wear instead of the paper or hospital gowns the doctor’s offices normally give me.  The atmosphere was totally different than a doctor’s office.  It seemed more like a spa.  I’m sure it is because they have high paying clientele having various plastic surgeries and they need to cater to them.  I was happy about that aspect of it.
During our 1 hour visit we probably spoke about the size and implant type for about 5 minutes.  This actually won’t be discussed again until several weeks/months after my mastectomy/reconstruction surgery.  I am not going to go into detail here about our discussion.  This is very personal to me, but if you are a woman that is going through this and you would like to discuss I would be happy to talk to you about it.  Just comment or send me a text and I will contact you to go into more detail with you one-on-one. 
Yesterday, I had to keep reminding myself of the verses below….

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11: 28

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” – Psalm 56:8

He knows my pain and is with me through it.  I can cast all my sorrow and burdens on Him who gives me strength.  He will give me what I need to endure this.

This next paragraph was pretty hard for me to write because everyone will know my “business”, but I’m trying to be helpful for anyone that may have to go through this or to give a husband an idea of what his wife is about to go through. I want you to be able to prepare yourself before your visit since I didn’t realize what it was going to be about.

DSC_0253

During the reconstruction there will not be much left for the surgeon to work with.  It isn’t like a normal augmentation.  Because so much is lost during the mastectomy she will be doing a tissue expander technique that requires her to use human skin graphs (from donors – ewww!), temporary spacers (the actual expander) and will need to use the pectoral muscle since there will be no tissue left to hold the spacer (or implant) in place.  Here is a good page to read about it that is not too graphic.  Most sites have real pictures so I tried to find one that was less graphic.

She gave us a little background on how the surgery would go. My oncological surgeon will start the surgery by doing the mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy (they remove the main lymph node to see if it reveals cancer).  The biopsy will give immediate results that will let him know if anything else will need to be done during the surgery (i.e. other nodes will need to be removed due to the cancer spreading).  I did learn that the scar will need to be a lot larger than if it was an augmentation so this was sad to me.  Once he is finished it will be my plastic surgeon’s job to try to reconstruct what was there.  I am very thankful that this is an option and even though this is hard for me I know it is a blessing to even have this as an available option.  I know women many years ago did not have this option nor did they have the skin grafting options available that they do now.

Once this surgery is finished I will be in the hospital for 2 days.  I will be put on pain medication to help manage the pain from surgery and I will start arm exercises the following day to help with arm mobility and lessen scar tissue.  I told her that I do not like taking medication (I know….I am an odd one) and she said she understood but I would have to take it for at least the first few days or I would be in too much pain to do the exercises and I MUST do the exercises.  I will have 2 drains in on each side that I will have to measure and empty throughout the day.  I believe I remember her saying I will have these for about 2 weeks following the surgery.  I will have to see her weekly to be “expanded”.  Once I am healed from the initial surgery I will start my treatment (chemo, etc).  This will be about 6 weeks post-op.  This was really hard for me to accept because I want the cancer gone NOW, but I know I need to be patient.  I will not even meet with an oncologist until several weeks after my surgery which is understandable since they will know a lot more after the various biopsies of tissue and lymph nodes.  Only after my treatment will they be able to finish my reconstruction.  So, I will have to go back at some point to have it completed.  She said it will be an outpatient procedure and will only take about 2 hours.
A few more things.  After the surgery I will not be able to lift more than 2-3 pounds.  Which is good and bad.  I won’t have to do any vacuuming, laundry or kitty litter (my favorite restriction.  lol), but I also won’t be able to lift my kitties and hold them either which will be hard to do since they are so sweet.
Below are a few more links that might be helpful if you are going to be going through this:
I am a candidate for this and you may be too.  This is a good site with a good explanation of the procedure.

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