Firstly, I can say without hesitation that I am 100% happy with my new breast. It has its wee scars and its quirks but it is great. I am very grateful.
The Final Stage
I have just received the paperwork for the final stage of the reconstruction process – the nipple tattoo. It is quite exciting except for the fact that it’s another surgery, although minor. I am a bit hospital-ed out at the moment. However, it appears that the surgery is done under local anaesthetic by a plastic surgery nurse and takes around 45 minutes. I can handle that.
About four weeks ago, I had my final check up with a plastic surgeon. The nipple reconstruction has healed nicely and I can remove all the tape – and just apply Bio-oil to the scars. By the way, the scars on my breast are fading nicely; I am super surprised about that.
Probably what impacts me the most is that I can sleep on my right side and also on my tummy. My tummy has really calmed down and I can put pressure on the tummy area, wear jeans comfortably and pretty much forget about the surgery (excpt sometimes when I sit up and have to kind of roll up).
So overall I am happy.
Breast Reconstruction Milestones in the last year
June 2012 First surgery – the delay – to prepare the veins in my tummy in order for the major surgery the following week. One hour surgery with one night in hospital. A bit of discomfort actually but nothing compared to the surgery proper.
One week later The mastectomy and TRAM flap reconstruction from my tummy. In the plastic surgery unit for just under a week. Five hour surgery and major. Unable to drive for six weeks.
February 2012 Nipple reconstruction under local anaesthetic
June 2012 Nipple tattooing under local anaesthetic
Gosh, four surgeries but it doesn’t sum up remotely what it was really like.
Helpful hints and tips
- You can do this! Even though there is a lot involved, you are strong enough to get through it all.
- Get prepared. Try and get lots of information beforehand so you know what to expect.
- Support. You will need support post surgery so check with the nurses and surgeons as to what you will need so it can be pre-arranged. Someone to take you shopping and help with cleaning is great – don’t life anything heavy.
- Fitness helps healing. Get as fit as possible pre surgery so you can cope more easily with the surgery. Post surgery, do as much gentle exercise as you can – firstly, deep breathing, physiotherapy and gentle walking. Within six months, I was biking so that was a milestone for me.
- Don’t drive for the entire six weeks even though you may want some independence.
- Keep a blog so you can record your thoughts, feelings and all the events that mean something to you.
- It get’s easier and easier. Short term pain for long term gain.