Monday, August 2, 2010

Back on the Table

So, here it comes, the second big day. My exchange surgery is scheduled for Thursday August 5. To remind those of you unfamiliar with the process, this is the surgery where the plastic surgeon removes the expanders that are underneath my chest muscle and replaces them with the implants (silicone in my case). Some of the lovely ladies with BRCA Sisterhood on Facebook call it Operation Squishy Boobs. I love that! The expanders are very firm and are unmovable. They are not too tight or majorly uncomfortable right now for me because instead of sequential fills to slowly expand the expanders, my plastic surgeon added all 800cc right off the bat during the original surgery. So, I am fairly used to the extent to which my muscle is stretched. However, the silicone implants should feel more soft and pliable, hopefully a bit more natural. In addition, as I mentioned in my previous post right now my breasts are very uneven and under my underarms instead of towards the center of my chest as they should be. This is something else that the surgeon will take care of during the exchange surgery.

This surgery is going to be much less traumatic than the prophylactic double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery in April. For example, the surgery is going to be performed at the clinic closer to my house, as opposed to the larger clinic/hospital the initial surgery was done at. Also, the first surgery was about 6 hours long and this one is supposed to only be a couple of hours and then it is outpatient where I go home right after. I am sure I will still feel pretty beaten up, sore and tired, but nothing like how I felt after they took out all of my breast tissue from the bottom of my breasts to my collar bone. I will have lifting restrictions for 1-2 weeks, depending on how I am recovering. My plastic surgeon also told me it is a 50-50 chance of having drains, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I get the 50% chance of NO drains! But I will deal with them of course if that’s what needs to happen. The drains, which I explained more here, are not the worst things ever, just a bit of a nuisance.

It is strange how fast this surgery snuck up on me. In some ways it felt like it was taking a long time to get here, but looking back the last 3+ months went by very fast! I was originally hoping to have the exchange surgery at the end of July, but then ended up having to wait for one part of the right side to finish healing. To explain, when I woke up from my original surgery I had a blue tattoo-looking area (if you put the tips of your thumb and forefinger together it was about the size of the space in between, just larger than a quarter). This was from the dye used to determine which sentinel lymph nodes to remove and it didn’t happen on my left side and I don’t think it is very common. My body did not take kindly to that dye and it stayed for weeks and then the top layer of skin finally started to peel, but then it turned into a thick scab. After a bit, the plastic surgeon removed the scab explaining that at a point it is doing more damage than good because water can get trapped underneath and bacteria start to grow. So, once she removed that scab I had a crater on my boob that was kinda gross and took forever to heal completely. Once it did heal about 2.5-3 weeks ago, my plastic surgeon felt comfortable with scheduling my exchange surgery. She wanted to give my skin a few weeks to be healed and give the scar a chance to shrink, etc. before she performed another surgery. Sorry if that was TMI, but I wanted to give an explanation for others who may find themselves in the same situation at some point.

So overall I am in good spirits. I am nervous, but less so than for the mastectomy. This time I already have a nausea patch that I asked my doctor to order since I had such a rough time with the anesthesia and medications last time…sensitive stomach! I am hoping I may actually be able to wake up from the anesthesia and feel well enough to even think about looking down at my chest as I have read about others doing! It is a relief to know that I am *hopefully* almost done with this portion of the prophylactic surgeries. If all goes well and I don’t need any revisions, I will be done with the breast portion and the ovaries will be next…when I’m 35.

I am very appreciative to all of my family and friends for all of their wonderful support throughout this BRCA experience. I have had such sensitive, kind responses to my decisions and I am so thankful for everyone. I am especially very grateful to my husband who has been truly amazing during, well, the entire time I’ve known him, which goes back to high school and being there for me during my Mom’s death. He is more than words can describe and I love him more deeply with each passing day!

Until next time, here’s to no more rocks on my chest, squishy boobs, and silicone!!! J


  1. Hooray for Operation Squishy Boob! Honestly, from all the women I've talked to, MOST haven't had many troubles with their exchange surgery. But still, it is major surgery, and you will have a recovery time to go through. When everything goes right though, it's much, much easier than the initial PBM.

    I'm so glad that your husband is being such a trouper and really being there for you. Having a loving partner by our sides definitely makes this all so much easier.

    Best of luck to you! Please give us an update when possible..


  2. It is good to get rid of the rocks! I will be on the table the same day ... chucking my ovaries. Speedy healing to you surgery sister!


  3. Teri,

    Thanks! I am really hoping that it goes smoothly. It is a comfort to know the recovery should be easier than it was for the PBM. I am so happy for you too, that your hubby is so wonderful to you through all you have gone through - good hubbies ROCK! :) Hope you are recovering well and get some well deserved rest and relaxation!


  4. Joi,

    I'll be thinking of you on Thursday! I hope your surgery goes well and your recovery is quick and as easy as is possible under these cicumstances. Please keep everyone posted on how your surgery goes, surgery sister! :)