Friday, August 13, 2010

Exchange Surgery Aftermath

Today is 1 week and 1 day after my exchange surgery, which was on Thursday August 5th. It is amazing the difference between this surgery and the mastectomy surgery with reconstruction. I cannot believe it is only a week post surgery. This time I was able to raise my arms enough to get a shower on my own on Friday evening (the day after surgery!). Last time it was about a week before I could even sort of lift my arms enough to wash my own hair and even then I was bending my head down and it was difficult. This time I have not needed anything to help me sleep at night, I only took pain killers a couple times during the first couple of days. The pain is nothing compared to last time though. With the mastectomy surgery, as I’ve mentioned before, I had a lot of pain the first couple days. Not just from the sutures or stretching of my chest muscle from the expanders filled with 800cc, but I think the majority of pain those early days is from the removal of all of the breast tissue, probably from all of the nerves being cut. However, this time around there was no removal of any tissue; just incisions through the original incisions on the underside of each breast. The expanders were removed from the developed pockets made by stretching my chest muscle and also using alloderm. (Alloderm is a tissue matrix that is made from donated human skin and is stripped of all characteristics except the important structural components. It was used to help create a pocket for the implant. You can get more information on Alloderm here.) Anyway, my plastic surgeon (PS) removed the expander, replaced it with a silicone implant and she also did a little work to help move the “gals” a bit more toward the center instead of under my arms as they were between these two surgeries as I described previously. So, this time my sides are very tight from the internal stitches which are trying to maintain the pockets/implants where they should be. But really overall, I have not had very much pain overall and definitely no intense pain like last time. It has been a much easier surgery and recovery compared to the mastectomy.

Also, triumphantly, I had NO nausea this time around! Hooray! Some lovely ladies on BRCA Sisterhood on Facebook mentioned a nausea patch to me after I explained my terrible nausea following the mastectomy. I asked my PS and she ordered it during my preop appointment and I picked it up at the pharmacy. The patch was called a scopolamine transdermal patch that I placed behind my ear the morning of the surgery and wore for 72 hours. It was so wonderful to wake up and not feel like absolute crap! Supposedly my PS came and talked to me afterwards and I don’t remember that at all, even though my husband says I was talking, smiling and thanking people. :)

I am very thankful to my plastic surgeon and the anesthesiologist for their hard work. My PS did a wonderful job making my “foobs” look like natural breasts. I’m pretty sure if you didn’t know any better you would think they were natural and that’s not just with clothes on! However, if I’m being totally honest I am still trying to get used to them. I feel like they are smaller than my real breasts were and my PS must have felt so as well, because she said she would have liked to have put 1000cc implants in, however, silicone only goes up to 800cc. Oh well. I also sort of feel like they need to be over toward the middle a little bit more…you know how with natural breasts there is space between them, but then when you put them in a bra they push together a bit? Well, they probably look natural because of the space which is great, but they don’t really least right now since I still have stitches and pain I haven’t exactly tried hard, but in any case I almost worry they look too far apart. Whatever. I’m sure it’s too soon to actually tell anything. I need to wait and see how they settle and what they look like in several months, so I guess I’m being too critical and picky, but that’s just kinda how I feel at the moment. Hope that’s not TMI, but just thought I’d share what I’m really feeling for those who may go through all of this at some point – trying to keep it as honest as I can!

Until next time, here’s to a quicker recovery, being healthy, and (tada!) silicone!! :)


  1. Congrats on the new boobs! Glad the pain is manageable.

  2. Thanks Janine! I appreciate you reading my blog and the support! The exchange surgery really was much better than the mastectomy...what a relief! :)