Has my recon left me disabled?

[Last July I had a Bilateral Mastectomy and Immediate Reconstruction using Tissue Expanders as I had Ductal Carcinoma In Situ in my right breast and Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia in my left breast. Unfortunately I found the expanders too tight and uncomfortable and they were removed after 18 weeks. I’ve been in constant pain ever since, with a permanent tight feeling in my chest. When I finally saw my Consultant 2 weeks ago she told me that my chest muscles are irreparably damaged and nothing can be done to alleviate the symptoms. When I asked her “Where does that leave me?” she said, “That leaves you disabled”. Surely that’s not right??

She said that they don’t compile statistics about how often this happens and I’m really peeved as no mention was made of muscle atrophy as a complication on the consent form that I signed.
A letter I had from her in July (I wrote to her as I wasn’t due to see her until December and hadn’t seen her since November last year) states “Your muscles will have been permanently damaged by the surgery as once the muscle has been cut it never fully recovers it’s original function.”

It’s pretty depressing to think that I’ll have this discomfort forever and I wasn’t warned that it was a possibililty.

From what you’ve said, you were not put in a position to give informed consent and can therefore sue. I suggest you find a solicitor near you with appropriate experience.

There is a 3 year time limit to sue. The solicitor advising you will bring the action against the Primary Health Care Trust, the surgeon etc. In fact, anyone who might be held responsible for all or any part of your injury.

There are loads of adverts on day time TV offering to take injury cases on a “no win,no fee” basis which might be useful if you lack the funds to pay in the usual manner and do not qualify for legal aid.

I suspect you are not talking about disablement in the sense of being able to claim Incapacity Benefit or Disability Living Allowance? I cannot at present envisage how your injuries would stop you working, but correct me if I’m wrong.

With sincere sympathy


Hi there,

I’ve tried several Solicitors who say I don’t have a case at all but we’ve now started a formal complaint with the Trust concerned and are awaiting their response. If we’re not happy then we’ll certainly be referring it on to the one Solicitor who’s shown a glimmer of interest.

I am already claiming Incapacity Benefit and MacMillan Cancer Support have advised me to apply for Disability Living Allowance as I’ve not worked since last year. As a Nurse I need to be fully fit as it involves quite a bit of physical activity as you can imagine and as there are so many things I now require assistance with I’d be a bit of a liability at work!!

I’m very upset and angry that my surgery has left me like this when I chose Implants over a DIEP flap so as to have the shortest possible recovery time and was fully expecting to be back at work within 3 months!!!

Hi there

Just read your post - its awful that you weren’t aware that this could happen before the surgery. I had my implant replaced due to the fact that it ruptured. I had a DIEP flap last Christmas with a few complications but at least I was aware of what may happen before the op!

If you do decide to pursue a claim against the Trust I would advise you to contact The Law Society and use a solicitor who is on the Clinical Negligence Panel. I am a lawyer and I used to specialise in personal injury law but medical/clinical negligence is a specialised area (I’ve now transferred to wills and probate - less stress!). Its correct that you have a three year period within which to issue proceedings against the Trust and in your case, I believe it would be from date of knowledge that your personal injury arose from the surgery - but a specialised solicitor would be able to fill you in with all the details and what you can claim for. Good luck.

Don’t know if you remember me at all? I had the same surgery as you and was “deconstructed” at the same time as you for similar reasons.
I feel devastated for you and I must say that after an initial feeling of physical relief when the expanders were removed, I am getting a feeling of tightness again on the one side (not as bad as when the implants were in) but this appears to be worsening.
Also, I am not sure if you have had the same, but my pectoral muscles appear to have “sunk” and I appear to have dips in my chest wall where the implants were. Of more concern, I am not sure whether its due to suturing or what, but if if I move my left arm backwards it feels as though the skin/muscle is going to rip open, its that tight.You can physically see the crease appear there.Also, I have found that my right shoulder is pulled forward, a result of which was due to the tightness experienced from when the implant was in (not that anyone would acknowledge this). Even though the implant is out, my shoulder appears to have “set” in this position - very uncomfortable.
As you, I was not made aware of such complications - the only ones I was informed of was possible infection (which I got) and possible capsular contracture(which I got ). What I was not told about was the possible development of lymphodema ( which I got), the possible migration of the implant(which I got- it wedged under my armpit)), muscle atrophy (which I now think I may also have) . in fact, I remember very well the rosy picture they painted of reconstruction. I also thought that by taking this option of expander implants would be the simplest, least complicated choice with a little chance of problems.
I still feel much more comfortable with them out but it is ,by no means great.Incidently, the PS still tried to get me to have replacement implants on removal of the expanders - with no mention of any risks/complications. It was left to me to challenge him about the increased risk of repeat contracture when you have already had contracture - he reluctantly agreed that this is the case - so please tell me why I should undergo another surgical proceedure when, in a few months/years down the line, I will be back to square one?
My heart goes out to you.