Reconstruction Following Mastectomy - Boston, MA

Decided to go through with reconstruction...

Decided to go through with reconstruction following mastectomy. Due to some pre existing medical issues, I was not a candidate for TRAM flap, so went with the expander and silicone implant on one side with breast reduction and lift on my healthy breast. The transition has been very difficult for me, mostly the cosmetic " look" of my surgical breast. I went from a DDD naturally to a C or small D. The skin is quite thin, rippling with some pitting, but I was told this was because there is no fat under the skin, so my PS will attempt fat grafting in the next couple of months. The shape is disappointing, very flat, feels a but hard, no protrusion, but maybe the fat grafting will help. But I have to understand it is a process, but I will be honest, so far....I'm disappointed. I should have asked more questions about kinds of implants, shape of them, the feel of them, silicone vs saline, and my doctors expected outcome post op. But at the time, I was still trying to get over the diagnosis of having cancer. I am not having the nipple reconstruction. Frankly, I can't feel anything on my mastectomy side anyway, and I'm not planning on nursing any more babies, so what use do I have for a nipple? Just one more thing I have to keep covered.
My own emotions, needs, and desires changed as I went through this process. I just finished my nipple reconstruction, which I thought I never wanted. Remember that you are never "done" with this process. if you change your mind or desires down the road of your journey, you can pick up where you left off. You will heal more and more as time goes by. I suggest you get a good physical therapist, and a good oncology-trained physcologist. Don't settle for disappointment!
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Thanks for your input. I just went tomy first session andesite e movement group last week, it is nice to find people who are NOT uncomfortable with letting you talk about what you are feeling. I know it is a process, but I feel like this has been going on forever. My implant feels so foreign to me, it's tight, doesn't move, looks aweful. And the look and feel of it affect my whole attitude. Maybe it's supposed to feel like that?, but it doesn't feel right. Thanks again.
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You just keep searching for those women who you can really talk to - they are there, and God will put them in your path. Embrace them, and they will help you heal! My physical therapists, and my psychologists have done more for my "foreign body" than anyone. don't give up! First, You need to love yourself and be grateful for what you have been given. and then, you need to make sure you don't have a surgical/medical issue that can be repaired. Get a second opinion, or a third. You go girl!
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2 months post op, not happy

So it has been two months since my reconstruction on one side and lift and reduction on the other. I am not happy with what it looks like, but some have told me it takes time for a good result, sooooo, I'm asking for comments, good or bad. Should I be happy or is this not normal?
Wow, I just love the wonderful support found in this thread of comments. Some pretty amazing women here. I would agree with the community that it does take time to get results you're satisfied with. I also agree that after you give it some time, don't settle for less. If you want things slightly different, don't give up. Hoping you can heal right now. Congrads on being cancer free!
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Thanks Jennifer. I'm trying. I have a few good days, then one or two bad days. I did speak with my PS who has become quite understanding. He will wait one month and try fat injections for the pitting and the asymmetry, and also told me to stretch, ( which I have been doing ), and reposition the implants several times each day, which I was not aware existed? My implant side is very tight, despite me stretching and doing ROM exercises. Hoping time will loosen it up. I was just hoping things would look better by now, but I am very impatient. I think what bothers me the most is I have a friend who had breast implants to a 36 D the same time I had my mastectomy. She looks beautiful, I look aweful? But I understand they are two different things. But it doesn't seem fair? Just trying to take one day at a time. Thanks for all of the support!
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I also have friends who did not have the issues I have...but I also have friends who have it worse - and they did everything "right". It's just our bodies, and the journey we are on. don't give up, but really work on your patience. I cannot emphasize enough how much I think a could physical therapist could help you with the tightness. search in your area for a PT who specializes in breast cancer - I've had great success with a MFR therapist (myofascial release) because they treat your whole body.
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Inspiration

This sun reflexion photo was taken by my brother the morning of my surgery last week. It stayed on the wall for about 20 minutes, then faded away? Awesome, right?
Wow, that's a very cool reflection photo taken by your brother. Very symbolic and yes, awesome!
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Beth. I panicked for a moment thinking people would think my brother took my breast photos!!! Now I know you mean the sun reflection!! Too funny. But, he and his wife, have been incredibly supportive. I had another reconstructive surgery 6 days ago to help fill out the pitting and folding of skin of my left breast. I will post some photos. It looks much better, doesnt feel any more real, but it looks a lot better which makes me feel better. But i now understand, and have to accept, it is a process; a slow one; but a process. Take care
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Oh yes, I meant the sun reflection photo. Too funny but sorry if I alarmed you! ;) 

I wish the recent surgery made your breast feel more real. Maybe more healing time will help? In the meantime, I'm glad the pitting and folding of skin is less noticeable. Looking forward to your photos. Best wishes!
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Implant tight?

I am three months post implant on the left following mastectomy, three weeks post fat injection to correct rippling, folding and shape. My implant is still having trouble dropping, is very tight, and my scar is becoming ropey or thick. The chest muscle is very tight, especially under my left arm and the outer area of the Implant despite ROM and stretching excercise. It is becoming very uncomfortable. I did finally find a PT who specializes in post reconstruction and breast cancer, but she does not take insurance and is too expensive for me as I have not been able to return to work yet. Any suggestions?
Ask your PS for a referral to a physical therapist. Mine just referred me immediately after the surgery and insurance had no problem with paying. The one I had was in the same building as the hospital and has physical therapy for all needs.
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What did the PT do for you? Has it helped?
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Mainly exercises that are designed to help strengthen and stretch the muscles around the chest and arms. It was helpful. I also have been going to a chiropractor that has helped a lot with a frozen shoulder situation that happened after surgery for infection in my lymph nodes. For helping with skin softness I have been using coconut oil that is used for cooking. I was told to stay away from the preservative methylparaben and the other parabens that are found in lotions. My PT actually recommended the coconut oil and it works. The muscles in my chest object to all of this also. It reminds me of being engorged with milk from my nursing days. The PS and PT said that they do eventually relax. There are some products that help scaring, ask the PS.
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Diet

Has anyone come across a good book that tells breast cancer patients what food is good and what to avoid?

8 weeks post fat injection

Hey all. Thought I would update. I'm 8 weeks post revision of implant surgery due to implant shifting, large fat pocket on top of breast and lots if pitting and wrinkling. I underwent fat injection to the breast and liposuction of the large fat pad, ( see original photos ). The pitting and divots and wrinkling are much improved, although I have noticed over the past week or so, some pitting in the middle inner aspect is returning a bit, but I was warned this may happen as usually only 50 % of the fat will be absorbed by the breast. I will probably have to have another fat injection in a couple of months and from time to time, but I am so much happier with the appearance. The breast continues to be very tight though, so I consulted a PT who taught me some stretching excercises to do a few times a day to help stretch the entire chest muscle. Even being a Nurse, I never realized how large our chest muscle is and that you need different kinds of stretching to loosen the entire muscle. One thing that helps a lot was laying on my back to the edge of the bd. allow your arms to go over the top of your head and fall behind you while holding a one pound weight. This stretches the inner, or cleavage area, of the muscle stretch out. This has helped a lot. I am developing som very ropey like scarring over my scars which the PT told me can be helped with cross friction massage? I just have to find someone who can do this as a lot of places do not. Going back to work next week!?!? After three months off, my stamina is still not up to par, but as a Hospice Nurse, right now I can. Make my own hours, so that will help. So, for all who asked, here are some photos to compare with my originals. Notice the missing fat pad, ( I think it moved to my butt ), and the fuller, more protruded breast. Wrinkling and pitting is also better. Hang in there friends. If there is anyone in the south shore of Boston area out there, we should chat privately. ( I think private emails are allowed). I have found the support from this site so helpful and comforting and I found a great support facility in this area to share. Take care of yourselves and eachother.
I have always relied on alternative medicine providers - Naturopaths and Chiropractors. Cancer requires 3 things to grow: sugar, acidity and inflammation. So eliminate sugar and heavy carbs such as pasta and potatoes, junk foods. Drink lots of water. There are books out. One that I was just given is "Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor" by Kris Carr.
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We are in this together. I have benefited from all of you on this site. I have had 4 surgeries also over 4 months. I see my PS the end of this month and will be scheduled for another one. It will be my first fat injections and switching out my implants to larger ones so that I look like I have breasts. I know at some point I will say enough is enough and not buy my PS another new car.
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Important help for scarring and tattooing

I almost forgot!
Last week on the Doctors, they did a segment on a new group that began an organization, http://p-ink.org, that helps women with Breast cancer who may be considering tattooing to cover surgical scars etc. these great ladies match you up with tattoo artist that match your profile, ( what kind of tattoo you are looking to get ) with Tatoo artist who will either tatoo you it at minimal cost or sometimes for free!
They are hoping to Travel through the states this summer to offer these services
To women who are interested or considering tatooing over breast scars, ( or are interested in donating money or time to help women who are considering tattooing , ) . I contacted them and have been talking to the woman who started it and I have offers my help in time and Nursing care if needed. I think it is a great organization and worth checking out. They do have a face book page which, if you " like " will send you out updates on where and when they will be around. You may be able to google p.-ink on The Doctors and see the piece. It gave me a lot of hope as , because of an abnormal scarring condition my family has, my scars look terrible and I am considering getting one tattooed. Just an FYI. Have a good weekend!
Just checking in on you Nana. How are you doing with your treatment plan and PT excercises? We'd love an update to your review when you have a chance. Thinking of you and hoping you are well!
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whoever did your reduction did a fabulous job. ive seen photos of women who still have a large breast and they give them this tiny areola and nipple that looks silly- yours looks so natural..hope with the fat grafting you can get the other side to match...I listen to trilife health broadcasts with dr roger billica and he days methylparabens are a known carcinogen yet they still put it in lots of things even makeup..and now the are brominating vegetable oils to preserve drinks and most all commercial breads and lining inside canned goods with this toxic bromine..and we wonder why our country has such a high cancer rate
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Thanks for your recent update Nanamama. You're really making some serious progress. Let us know how it goes when you return to work. Try to take it slowly if you can. Glad you can take a break from surgeries before the next fat injection.

A new member, by the name of lafordj might be interested. If you get a chance ladies, feel free to check in with her. She may also be interested in the tattoo information!
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