I did a lengthy review under Breast Implants, so anyone interested in why an implanted woman like me would HateMyImplants, you can check out my other review. Here I am going to try to keep it to a review of Explantation.
A little info: I'm 35, had implants 12 years. They are smooth, round, mentor saline implants. I believe they are 360cc 'overfilled' to 400cc. My incisions were inframammary. I was a cute 36A before surgery. Post surgery a bulging 36C, and after 2 kids settled at small 36D. Capsular Contracture in my Left. It's developed along over the past 4 years, and now is really noticeable and intolerable. I'll be looking to get these implants removed through my existing under-breast scars and capsulectomy. I am currently planning no lift. My goal is to have (relatively) symmetrical breasts again. Capsular contracture has really made the Left distort and move, and I'd just love to have a small matched set again.
I'll update when as I go through consultations and each step of the explant process. TTYS, girls.
I did a lengthy review under Breast Implants, so...
I did a lengthy review under Breast Implants, so anyone interested in why an implanted woman like me would HateMyImplants, you can check out my other review. Here I am going to try to keep it to a review of Explantation.
Hope all you ladies enjoyed your holidays. After...
Had an excellent consultation yesterday. The PS...
OH YEAH!!! This was in my review for 'breast...
So, last Wednesday I had 2 more consultations...
My only hesitation is that he believes my capsules should be left in, and that removing them could lead to distortion or permanent asymmetry because of how little breast tissue I have, and how my skin has thinned due to the stretching of the implants. I had really been thinking I'd have a complete capsulectomy, especially since I have CC, but the Dr was very against that surgical plan for me personally. He said since I have saline (no chance of free silicone leaked into the capsules) that the removal of capsules would be more for the sake of avoiding seroma in the short term during healing. He also thinks my CC is Baker grade 2, even though that boob rides high, by the 'squeeze' test he did not think the capsule is very thick, it's just contracted. My mammogram did not show calcification of the capsules. So, basically the capsules (even the CC one) can stay in and the CC asymmetry will resolve just from removing the implants. If I go with a simple explant, no capsule removal, then he will do my surgery under local anesthesia -- which appeals to me both because I'm scared to death of general anesthesia and because it lowers the cost by +/- $2000 (I'm paying for this out of pocket). If I am adamant about the capsule removal, he will do it under general anesthesia. This particular Dr is a dual specialist - he is a board certified plastic surgeon, and he also did a special fellowship in breast surgery (oncology, etc), so I think his surgical plan probably has more medical merit than mine. I have seen quite a few women on here who did not have capsulectomy and others who thought they were going to have a capsulectomy and then surgeon decides in the operating room not to do one. So maybe this is ok.
I was going to ask a question about capsulectomy /...
In my case I have thinned skin (from stretching in pregnancy) and essentially no breast tissue over my implants (I can clearly feel both valves through my skin) and digging out the capsules could cause more distortion, damage and trouble than it is worth... Now, if I had silicone implants or calcifications then the distortion and damage to my already non-existent breast tissue might be worth it weighed against the migration of free silicone to lymph nodes etc. Also, if I had more breast tissue, it could be worth sacrificing a bit of it to dig those capsules out. In my personal case, it seems other surgeons might advise me the same as the surgeon I've chosen, so I feel better. Again, this just proves that 'one size fits all' approach to explant doesn't work - we all need individualized plans based on our personal situations. I am coming to believe there is no 'perfect' surgery - it is a matter of weighing one set of risks and possible complications against the other. In my case, I'm going to be looking out for a seroma, in order to spare what pathetically little breast tissue I have. I'm ok with that.
***ABOUT MY SURGERY*** I had essentially 2...
I had essentially 2 seperate procedures done at the same time. I had a simple explant - no lift, no internal stitching, no capsule removal. I also had a lesion removed from under my left areola - this was an 'excisional biopsy' due to a lump in my left side which was probably a fibroadenoma (waiting on pathology to find that out for sure). Dr Gabriel did the biopsy immediately after the explant. I did all of this under local anesthesia, with just a 2mg Lorazapam pill (no IV sedation). I am an extremely calm patient, and preferred to NOT have general anesthesia (losing consciousness scares me) so I would not recommend it for everyone but in my case it was preferred. I walked into the surgical suite, was strapped down, draped, cleaned up, and then had injections of local anesthetic. They sting for a minute. Then Dr Gabriel began by cutting in my existing inframammary scars, he was able to make the incisions smaller than the existing scars as he drained the saline implants before pulling them out. You feel pressure, tugging, warmth and cold - but no pain. The only time I felt pain was a couple of times when the electrocaudery devise zapped me where I wasn't numb - felt like hot splattering bacon grease, really no big deal. After the bags were removed, it felt like Dr Gabriel used some sort of suction in the pockets, almost like what they use at the dentist office - I could feel the vacuum internally which felt odd, but again it was not painful. To finish up, he artfully stitched my under breast incisions closed, layer by layer. I should end up with a very small, fine scar. That is it for the $1500 local anesthesia explant. Took about 40 minutes total.
Separately, after my explant, my L areola was cleaned, injections of local anesthetic, small peri-areolar insicion and Dr Gabriel went to work removing my probably-fibroadenoma breast lesion. Again, I could feel warm/cold, tugging, and pressure but no pain. The lesion was directly under the skin, felt like a marble. If it were deep in the breast tissue this excisional biopsy would have probably had to be under general anesthesia, but I am so thankful to get both thigs done at once. After about 12 minutes of digging Dr Gabriel had removed the lump - about the size of a small grape. He took longer stitching the lumpectomy incision, explaining that he does each layer of tissues individually, and the lumpectomy went deeper into the fat layers and needed deep stitches to make sure it heals beautifully. I will have a separate charge for the pathology etc for the biopsy, not part of the $1500 explant BUT I didn't have to pay any additional operating room fees or fees for local anesthesia etc. I was on my feet and walking out of the operating suite after about 1 hour, feeling fine.
**** ABOUT MY PICS ****
Please ladies do NOT let my pics scare you! I know the 1 minute post-surgery pic looks like Snoopy's ears. I went through a lot with my implants - 2 pregnancies and breast feeding where they ballooned to ginormous proportions, plus I have almost no real breast tissue. My lack of breast tissue is part of why my surgeon didnt want to remove my capsules. I have stretch marks from my babies, thinned skin from pregnancies with over-muscle implants... And I am still hopeful that things will improve with time for me. So please, pre-explant ladies, especially those who never had babies with implants in, do not look at my 1 minute picture and grow faint of heart. I think they will improve, and will post weekly pics over this month, and then monthly pics over the next 6 months. Luv you girls. Xoxo
I feel great. ZERO pain, besides an occasional...
When I changed the bandage I took a look and they have improved already in just 2 days. I am keeping on TIGHT binding... Double bras (tight sports bras x2, or genie bras x2) 24 hours a day, and ace bandage binding them over top at night. I plan to do this for a week - 2 weeks, and then graduate down to 1 bra.
I have wonderful news! I had a post-op...
My neck and spine inbetween my shoulder blades feel AMAZING. I had no idea that the constant aches, pain and tension was the weight of my implants, but apparently it was. My boobs might look 20 years older, but my spine feels 20 years younger so that is awesome.
I cannot say enough about my awesome doctor! Through all this craziness that is one thing I am 100% happy about - I really think I chose the absolute best surgeon in my region for this. His surgical technique is meticulous, he is really a breast specialist, and I could not be any more happy with everything about the way my surgery was planned and executed - even his medical opinion of me leaving my capsules in has been absolutely correct (for my case personally). For how much he had to do, especially on my left breast, there is essentially no pain, no swelling, no bruising, no bleeding... And that scar placement for the lump removal in the nipple crease instead of the edge of the areola - genius. It is going to heal and be zero visible, and yes I have complete sensation in that nipple despite him squeezing a grape-size tumor out of that delicate incision (while pleasantly carrying on a conversation with me, LOL). The guy has skill and talent.
Of equal importance though has been his bedside manner and that of his staff (many of whom have implants!). Never have any of them made me feel bad about explanting - never have they tried to suggest replacement implants or a lift, I have been treated with absolute dignity and respect. I was given fair warning about thinned skin, stretch marks, sagging - but never told I'd be 'deformed' nor was I insulted, nor did I experience the dreaded 'scare tactics' that some PS seem to fall back on when faced with an explanter. They somehow toed the fine line between clinical honesty and still being positive and respectful of my body and choices. In retrospect I can understand why many plastic surgeons sort of 'freak out' or act weird toward explanters - we are essentially rejecting what they do, their life's work of 'cosmetically improving' people. The choice to be 'natural and imperfect' could be taken as an insult to some individuals in this profession. I really feel that Dr Gabriel has such a good character as a physician and never loses sight of his primary job as a healer, and that his staff is very well trained and professional. Today he told me my incisions are healing great and he also welcomed me to let them know if there is anything else he could help me with in the future, beyond the scope of what a good bra can do. haha. I go back in 10 days, and 6 months.
*About Recovery* I think you can see pretty...
I think you can see pretty clearly in my pics what was going on (especially watch how my R boob changes) , but anyway... immediately post-explant there is a concave area we all talk about. Best way I can describe it is that over the years the implant pushes all your breast tissue to the edges and when your implant is removed you are left with a "doughnut" shape breast tissue - a ring of breast tissue with a nice center hole of nothingness (where the implant used to be) that caves into your ribcage. It is distressing. I had a few cries about it. Over time somehow things "knit" back together and the body starts closing that hole in the center. I will be very happy to be FLAT, and not to have concave "spoon" shaped breasts. We will see.
Week 1: Exhausted. Don't try to do anything. I was not in pain but I was SO tired and needed lots of sleep.
Week 2: Itchy. Internal itching. Incisions itching. Steri-strips itching. Dissolving stitches itching. Toward the end of week 2 I had resumed most of my daily activities (office work and children) but with needing extra rest than usual.
Week 3: Aches like I am going to lactate. Diffuse swelling, and localized bruising (which I had only where fibroadenoma was removed) have resolved. Daily routine is once again as easy as its ever been.
Week 4: Pretty much feel normal - so this is about the time I am tempted to "over-do it". I don't want any last minute complications so I am holding out on being lazy for the full 6 weeks.
I am still taking it easy. I have had a few rounds of crying and freaking out - during the first week. Overall I am thrilled to be rid of those implants. Currently I am OK with my results. The overall size is fine, even the droopiness is fine with me. My issue is that I have severely damaged stretch marked skin on my boobs. I may look into a Benelli-type breast lift in the future, mostly for the sake of removing the damaged skin. But, I am not going to seriously consider this for at least 6 months, and likely will not end up doing it. I would NEVER again consider prosthetic breast implants of any sort... so... regardless of what my future holds I am so happy to be natural and rid of those implants.
9 weeks Post Op with new Pics
Week 5: I began a 12 week course of Mederma treatment on my stretch marked boobs. I am only lightly rubbing the stretch mark cream into the superficial skin layers. Some of you ladies start deep tissue massage right away, but I am just not ready yet.
Week 6: I forgot to take pictures, it was one of those weeks I didn't feel much changed. Boobs feel a little less "jello".
Week 7: When I crop these pictures to standard dimensions week after week my editing tool comes up as a grid. I have watched the nipples go from CC cockeyed on completely different lines of the grid to even and on the same line. It is official as of today the nipples are the same height, even though the boobs are not 100% symmetric and never will be this is a huge thing for me. Yeah! To me this is the point I can truly say I have recovered from the CC.
Week 8: the ridges and valleys of my stretch marks seem smoother. I was skeptical going into the Mederma treatment. It worked well on my stomach when I had fresh "new" stretch marks... But these ones on my boobs are the silvery/white "old" stretch marks. It even says that it won't work in old stretch marks.... Well, it DOES, at least for me. I am pleased with the results so far and will do a full 12 weeks.
Week 9: FINALLY I feel OK about a deeper tissue massage. The last of my dissolvable stitches "spit out" like little whitehead pimples. There has also been a sudden firmness change in my tissue, I believe this is what all you girls refer to as the "fluff fairy". Check out my pics - radical change in just one week between weeks 8-9. I have carefully palpated around where my "capsules" would be an I can't feel anything. My implants were over the muscle so I should be able to feel that capsule tissue if there was anything alarming but there isn't. I don't think I could tell the difference if I didn't know my capsules were left in place.
Finally, I am no longer thinking about any more surgery. I am dealing with my stretch marks through non-surgical techniques and once my 12 weeks of Mederma is over I will probably move on to things like Retinol, hyluronic acid, tca peels, and other things like that. I will keep you girls posted. As it stands now I am at 2 months post op and completely satisfied with my current result. If I didn't change any more at all I would still be happy! Great thing is I am still seeing huge changes :)
Currently I am about 20lbs overweight. I am 5' 3.5". At age 23 when I got implants I was 115lbs. My "fit" weight after having children has been 125lbs. Since last Summer, I gained 20-25lbs, so I am now tipping the scales at a whopping 145-150lbs. Finally, I am ready to start working out again, and will be interested to see how weightloss effects my explant results.
New Pics for the Curious and Fearful
Skin Care Regimen
1. At 5 weeks I started Mederma for stretch marks. I go with either the Mederma or generic Walgreen brand. The active ingredient is onion extract. It is clinically proven, and worked for me in the past on my stomach. 2x per day.
2. I like Roc resurfacing disks for my face. I used to cut the pads in 1/2 and use it for my face, now I use the whole thing to clean my face & boobs in the shower. I used the rough side on the boobs, because one of my complaints post-explant is how HUGE my pores were. In some of my early pics you girls can see the "goose flesh" texture - those are my stretched out pores on the boobs! The Roc pads totally rock, my pores have shrunk unbelievably in 10 weeks of use. I will be using these on the boobs long term. Forever.
3. Hyaluronic Acid - I love this stuff. It is the only thing that "plumps" out that tissue thin stretch mark damaged skin. I got pure 1% hyaluronic acid to add to my body butter.
4. Yes to Carrots body butter - this is my go-to extra moisturizing lotion. It has every amazing nourishing oil in it (olive, avocado oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, carrot seed oil, almond oil and others) and many natural extracts, dead sea minerals, etc. Amazing ingredients for very reasonable price. it is very rich and kind of oily, but I prefer it to a straight oil (like coconut).
5. Derma-Life lotion. Oil free. Is 0.8% salicylic acid. Also has allantoin, antioxidants, aloe vera. Very pure, simple and super absorbant with no residue.
6. Roc Deep Wrinkle Filler. Little spendy. I found the 2 pack of the deep wrinkly night at Costco for much less. Same active ingredients, but slightly different. The magic is a proprietary blend of Roc Retinol + Hyaluronic Acid. I swear by this product for the face, and now I am indulging my boobs too.
7. Derma Roller. I am using a 1.5mm needle roller - basically a roller with hundreds of needles that puncture your skin. Yes, it freakjng hurts. Yes, it can draw blood. It also increases absorbency of products by 1000x and is the only thing clinically proven to stimulate collagen growth and elastin. The destruction of collagen and elastin is what causes stretch marks. I will be getting numbing cream for the next round of derma rolling. 1.5mm treatment only once every 4-6 weeks. For the less masochistic, 0.5mm can be used weekly just for increasing product absorption. Dermatologist / astheiticians use 2mm+++. 1.5mm is all I can take doing it at home, but I need to stimulate collagen in deep skin layers (where the stretch mark damage is). This is long term, I should see results in 1 year.
That is about it.
Daily: Roc resurfacing pads for cleansing. I do Mederma with massage 1x per day in the morning. At night massage again, and I alternate between derma-life/yes to carrots **OR** Roc wrinkle filler/yes to carrots applied in 2 layers.
Monthly: Derma Roller on both boobs (Not on areolas!) follow with Roc wrinkle filler (slathered).
The Onion Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Retinol as well as derma roller are all clinically proven, safe, and I feel comfortable using them long term. So far I am seeing a lot of improvement, and am willing to continue my efforts - the only alternative is surgical excision so any non surgical improvement is a victory compared to that.
Forgot one thing!
I didn't mention the Jergens self-tanner. I picked that up on coupon and really liked it! This is not in the stretch mark treatment category - this is camouflage. My stretch marks are lighter than the non-damaged skin. Of course you should NOT get any sun damage (aka "Tan") to stretch marked skin you are trying to heal. Plus, the shrinking of my areolas has made them appear darker :( the self tanner gave me nice tone, I avoided the areolas so it made the contrast between the dark areolas and light no-sun-tan boob less noticeable. However, with all my other lotions and exfoliating, self-tanner doesn't last. If I were planning on getting laid, however, it would be worth it to me to do the self-tanner the day before. It does camouflage the stretch marks that much. I have no man though :( so the Jergens hasn't been worth doing on the regular, lol.
6 months post op, in the calm eye of the storm
In August my dad was diagnosed with acute leukemia. I have spent the better part of the past 2 months by his side in the cancer center. Cancer is not pretty. Chemo is not fun.
Do you know women with implants (silicone or saline) are far more likely to commit suicide? Do you know women with implants (silicone or saline) are far more likely to develop a rare lymphoma called ALCL? And implants interfere with mammograms and ultrasound diagnostics? And implants interfere with the ability to feel lumps in manual exams? And all that can lead to advanced breast cancer?
Over my months in the cancer center, I have seen people in the ward one day, and the next their room is empty. No, they weren't cured. I want to scream from the top of my lungs for each and every one of you to embrace LIFE. It is so short. Best case scenario the average person has 25,000 total days on planet earth. All us bitches sit around here moaning about tits day after day.... Tick, tick, tick... Our days used up whining and self criticizing. You don't get more days than 25,000... You get that if you are lucky. Stop wasting your days on petty 1st world photshop-induced problems. "OMG, my upper pole could be fuller", "OMG, creating a new life in this world (aka a child) gave me stretch marks and sag". I want to tell all of us MYSELF INCLUDED to STFU.
Each of us made a choice to EMBRACE LIFE. Getting implants puts means you have a better chance at living a longer, healthier life. Now, stop wasting time and go live. Be happy. If you aren't happy I suggest you volunteer some time helping women with breast cancer, or children with Acute Leukemia (average age is 5). Maybe go to Africa where they don't have clean water to drink and children die every day of diarrhea. I am so sick of 1st world boob problems. I am going to stop the madness and nonsense in my own life, and channel that energy into making the world a better place.
My boobs are still changing at 6 months. Honestly, it's just a side thing. I have a beautiful, wonderful, blessed life to live and boobs are just part of this vehicle that I am traveling in. If it gets me to my final destination, I am happy.
Great year of health and healing!
The past 6 months have been great, I have finally let go of my boob-obsession, have been hugging my beautiful children, started a new career, found bras that work for me, and started dating again. It's a blessed life I am living, not because of having perfect boobs (I don't have perfect boobs - nothing is ever perfect) but because I have come to love and embrace my body for what it is and have finally learned to stop the "stinking thinking" and start focusing on everything wonderful that I have in my life. I have my health, my family, good friends, enjoy peace and freedom in a 1st world nation, I have equal social and political rights as a woman, have a roof over my head, clean water to drink and good food to eat, a car, a job... So many women in this world are suffering without even basic necessities and conveniences in life, things we take for granted. Once I opened my heart and mind to realizing how fortunate I truly am, my former obsession with body image and boobs made me feel ungrateful and sad at all the years I spent in unhappiness over trivial body-hating BS.
Now, on to the stuff you'd like to know about post-explant... Over the past 6 months I lost the extra 25lbs I had been carrying. I am now at my healthy goal weight, and I feel awesome. Moving, stretching, exercising, and living are wonderful in my natural body. I now realize that I was created exactly as I was meant to be - my body is so functional and free without those sloshing, heavy bags of saline weighing me down. Weight loss did change my breasts a little, but life is all about changes and being able to go with the flow and adapt.
I am thrilled that I did not have a lift. Yes, I have a little bit of sag from having babies. All the creams and skin treatments helped during my healing process, but nothing every erases stretch marks. Honestly, I don't care anymore. The little bit of droop, and lines on my boobs tell the beautiful story of how I created 2 precious, wonderful human beings and gave them as a gift to this world. I wouldn't erase that story, or the lines on my body that tell it even if I could. This is me, and my children are the greatest contribution and legacy I will ever leave on this earth and something I am very proud of. Changing my thinking and my mind has been more uplifting and helped my self-esteem more than any type of body-modification ever could.
As for dating, I don't feel hindered by losing the implants. The only attention I am missing out on is unwelcomed "gawking" by strange men who creep me out anyway. As for men who would actually like to make eye contact with me, ask me out and get to know me, I think being natural has not hindered me at all. I did briefly start dating a man who I met after my explant. After we went out a few times, I told him my story of my explant, and he told me that it was "a shame" that I didn't get a replacement instead. He went on to say that he loves big fake boobs, and that his ex-girlfriend had great silicone tits. So, I immediately dumped him on the spot without a second thought, worry, or regret. In the past, I would have blamed myself and my small boobs and viewed this situation as a "defect" on my part... Now, I view it as a "defect" on the part of my potential partners. I am me, and if you want someone or something else then please keep stepping and don't waste my time. Interestingly, he called me several times and tried to back-track and continue our relationship, so apparently the love of big fake tits is not a deal-breaker for a lot of fake-tit-loving men, but it is now a a definite deal-breaker for me. Shortly after, I started dating a tall, fit, beautiful man who is over a decade younger than me. He enjoys me and my body just as it is, and probably largely due to the fact that I am now confident and comfortable in my own imperfect skin. Moral of the story - when you let go of insecurity and baggage, you make room for better things and better relationships in your life.
I finally found bras that work for me. I have a broad breast-base, but shallow cups. My breast tissue extends almost up to my collar bones, and across to my armpits, this is one anatomical variation that a lot of women have... Just as some women have narrow breast-base and deep cups (slang term "banana boobs"). I used to struggle to shove my boobs into bras that aren't designed for my breast shape, where the narrow underwires smashed into my breast tissues, and where I was forced into the incorrect size. No more. Bras are meant to serve my boobs, not the other way around. I have found that full-coverage, "minimizer" bras fit perfectly. Minimizer?! You may ask. Well, yes, because I can get the wider underwire I need to hug my wide breast-base and yet the cups are shallower. I also found I was wearing a too-big band size. My true size is 32D (yes, my smallish boobs are truly 32D, not 34C or 36B). Bali bras work awesome for me, and I no longer have that side-boob/armpit-fat problem that many of us complain about. I like traditionally sized Bali minimizer bra with non-stretchy, non-molded cups... And also their "cool comfort" bras which are easy to size in XS, S, M, L etc. I have found that Demi-cups, push ups, plunges, padded, and all that other crap is frustrating and I am sick of frustrating bras.
Overall, I am content to be me. I am not going to try to alter myself for relationships, societal expectations, or bras that don't fit. Instead, I embrace who I am and look for the people and bras that fit me and who I am.
In short, I have learned such a valuable lesson through this painful process of implants and explant: it is much more productive to change your "stinking thinking" than to surgically alter your body. Changing your mind to be positive and grateful for what you have is much more rewarding than dwelling on what you don't have and trying to change who you are.
I wish all you lovely ladies happiness and self-acceptance. Celebrate your uniqueness and count your blessings every day.
Superb board certified Plastic Surgeon right here in the Portland/Vancouver metro area.