Reconstruction Take Two

Before my initial breast reconstruction surgery I viewed breast reconstruction as one and done. Well if I am honest, overall, I thought I would walk away from my whole breast cancer experience with 2 surgeries – TOTAL.  Boy was that naive and wrong!

Talking with my fellow “bosom” buddies, one and done for reconstruction was a dream. I have yet to meet anyone who experienced one and done for reconstruction.  I was no exception either. Maybe if I had delayed reconstruction until after my hernia repair, I would have had one reconstruction surgery, but that is hard to say for certain.

If you read my last post, then you know I love my reconstructed breasts. So why the need for round two?  When I had round one my plastic surgeon grafted fat from my stomach.  He discovered a hernia and avoided that area.  This left my stomach looking misshaped.  I know it may sound vain, but I wanted it fixed.

Plus, not all the fat took from the fat grafting.  So for round two, my plastic surgeon grafted the remaining fat to even out my stomach. He then relocated the fat to one of my reconstructed breasts that had an indentation.

My plastic surgeon assured me with my hernia repaired, he would really be able to get in there and even things out. After reconstruction round one I felt like I had lost a fight with a liposuction machine.  With round two, my plastic surgeon must have been really aggressive with the fat grafting, because it was brutal.

Again, the worst and most painful part of the surgery was the fat grafting recovery.  Liposuctions sucksLiterally (and yes – pun intended).  What more can I say? 

I discovered after this round that gravity affects swelling and bruising. He grafted fat from the center of my stomach surrounding my belly button. Bruising and swelling traveled south and concentrated around my groin. I have never bruised nor swelled to the extreme I did following this surgery. I was a rainbow of deep black, blue, purple, pink and yellow.

The extreme to which I bruised even prompted me to call my surgeon’s office. It was recommended I try arnica. It wasn’t a guarantee, but they said some patients have good results. I set out in search of arnica.

Not feeling great limited the distance I was willing to travel. Thus I was limited to a nearby Walgreens & Safeway. A natural grocer carries arnica pills. All I could find was an arnica gel. I applied it liberally immediately followed by ice. This combination helped the bruising and swelling fade. I religiously repeated this routine throughout the day.

I also iced my chest. I did not bruise or swell to the same extreme there, but I was still sore and bruised. My plastic surgeon relocated the grafted fat using a syringe, but he made small incisions in the skin and inserted the syringe through the incisions. Luckily, the incisions were minimal and disappeared quickly.

So how did things look after surgeryI love my chestI think it looks great!  I still have ripples and indentations here and there.  I think that is just my new normal.

 Aside from bruising, my stomach looked fairly flat when I removed the compression garment immediately following surgery. The skin around my belly button collapsed into my belly button, I think mostly due to the compression garment. As time has passed my belly button reemerged.

My stomach is looking better than it did after round one, but if I am completely honest, not quite as nice as I would like. It is obvious to me I have extra skin on my stomach now. My plastic surgeon told me it takes at least a year to access the final results.

I can still clearly see round one and round two of fat grafting. It is not as even nor as smooth as I would have hoped. I am hopeful things will improve over the next year. I believe the unevenness in part is due to extra skin. I am fairly certain my results are why, cosmetically speaking, people typically opt for a liposuction/tummy tuck combination.

I don’t share the reality of my final results to complain.  I hope it doesn’t sound like I am complaining.  That is not my intent.  I just want to be totally honest.  I appreciate honesty.  I am incredibly happy with my overall resultsI think my plastic surgeon did a great job

I have the overall perspective of where I started and the final results.  I am amazed and so grateful for the capabilities of modern medicineI feel whole, complete and confident with my new body –  that is paramount.