Amputating both my breasts was a very scary decision. Research prior to making the decision mostly set an expectation of total loss of breast sensation, painful complications, numerous surgeries, and, ultimately, a strong likelihood of deformed reconstructed breasts. I was sternly warned to expect nothing and prepare for the worst. Would I ever feel comfortable being naked again? What about the 11 months a year I spend on a pontoon in a bikini?
The other day, I was reminded by my boyfriend that my decision to do it anyway, to take that risk, was courageous. I want to share with those making the decision for themselves that such risks can have positive results.
I am now nearly 8 months post mastectomy and 4 months post exchange to implant and everything is going very well.
I had no complications with surgery or healing whatsoever, perhaps because I took extreme precautions and had excellent care throughout. Perhaps because I’m just lucky. My new breasts actually look pretty darn good! They are softening significantly and even have an unexpected bounce. The scars are smooth and nearly completely hidden in my breast fold (underneath where the breast hangs down). My skin and nipple sensation is slowly returning, though I don’t think I’ll ever have full nerve function again.
I ended up with 310cc Natrelle Inspira smooth round gel implants, otherwise known as a gummy bear implant. On my body frame (5’5″, 135 lbs.) this makes them a 34D bra size, quite a bit bigger than I started with but a nice, balanced, natural look.
Breast implants are typically placed under the pectoral muscle. When you are getting a breast augmentation, that’s cool because you have the added cushion of actual breast tissue over top of the implant. But, with breast reconstruction, there isn’t that added layer of breast and fat so the implants can move quite a bit when placed under that strong pec muscle. My plastic surgeon opted for over the muscle placement to avoid implant movement. This was especially nifty for me because it will allow me to get back on the silks faster (healing is typically expedited when you don’t have to stretch that muscle) and not have obvious implant squashing when I’m using my upper body in dance.
I’ve continued to take supplements for healing (Vitamin C, B complex, Calcium, and Gotu Kola) and also get monthly cold laser therapy (available at my Austin-based chiropractor) to reduce inflammation and expedite cell repair. I was given a scar protocol that includes 3 creams to apply every few days but, honestly, I couldn’t keep up. Scarring is minimum anyway so I gave myself a break.
My doctors were exceptionally talented and I cannot thank them enough for making me whole again. I recognize myself. I can get past this. It was risky, no doubt. Sometimes you have to double down and hope for the best.
If you’re looking for advice, I have little to offer I’m afraid. Everyone is so very different in their anatomy, desires, fears, and expectations. Shop around, educate yourself, and do what you think is best. The choice you make is the best one. Promise.
WARNING: ACTUAL BREAST PHOTOS
I decided to be courageous again and share actual images of my breast metamorphosis. Images are of both my breasts including nipples. Please do not share the images. Please click to view the images only if you are seeking information about mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Please be respectful and know how sensitive this is for me. View images here.