Reconstruction after rads using expander and strattice

Hi,
I am now 12 years post mastectomy. I had chemo and radiotherapy at the time but never bothered with reconstruction, partly because I didn’t want to mess around with my back muscle having just learned to dance. Over the years, I have never totally stopped thinking about reconstruction, particularly at holiday times when it seems such a faff having to wear a prosthesis - special swimwear - hot and sticky (or not) etc. Also, all the clothes I ever like seem to present some sort of neckline crisis.

In October I decided to mention this to my GP who arranged a consultation with my original breast surgeon to discuss the options that may be open to me. The surgeon has offerred to do a reconstruction using an expandable implant under my pectoral muscle which he intends to support using a sling made of ‘Strattice’ (I understand that this is a material derived from pig skin), instead of using my back muscle.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has had this type of reconstruction, particularly if they also had radiotherapy. How successsful was it, are you happy with the outcome? What was the whole experience like?

I’m really undecided on whether to go for this or just carry on as I am. I don’t think my existing scar looks bad really and my husband is fine with it and will support me whatever I decide. I did hope that sooner or later there would be more of us single breasted girls on the beaches but I haven’t seen any and hence feel that I have to continue with this prosthetic pretence.

I don’t know whether my comments will help, but I hope they might.

I don’t dance, but I do 5 yoga classes a week and play tennis (therefore lots of movements with one or both arms above my head).

I had an LD recon (the only option suitable due to rads and my preference for not using any tummy fat)in December 2008 and a further one in November 2009, and after both ops I was back at both yoga and tennis within 4 weeks. Can’t say much more than that, it was just “me” and how I recovered, or rather how I wanted to recover, so it may be very different for others.

I am sitting here as though nothing had ever happened, the recon has brought me totally back to where I was 3 years ago pre BC (but perkier!)

Bubs x

Hi Bubs, Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s comforting to know that you had such a good recovery from the LD op.

Am I correct in thinking that you have had bi-lateral surgery and reconstruction on both sides using the LD flap method? I am amazed that you are still playing tennis! I expected that the loss of the back muscle would cause a lot more problems.

You’ve got me thinking about this now because my surgeon’s preference for me is the LD recon but he’s offered me the expander and Strattice method because I was so concerned about the muscle issue with the LD. From the photos I’ve seen at the hospital - the results do seem to look more natural using the LD flap.

Best wishes
Awadan
x

Hi Awadan

Yes, I have had bilateral surgery, but only suffered cancer in one breast.

After a right-hand side mastectomy in November 2007, I had an LD recon (with implant) in December 2008. Simultaneously, and in attempt to achieve better symmetry, I had the breast tissue removed from the lefthand breast and an implant inserted (my surgeon was not at all happy with just inserting an implant as he said this could mask problems in future mammograms - I can see his point)

That operation went really well, but after things had settled down, it became apparent that the lefthand breast’s appearance was not nearly as acceptable as the righthand side in that it lacked the “bolstering up” effect of the LD flap underneath the breast that the righthand one had. The implant alone was rippling under the skin, and when I bent forward (which I notice a lot because of my yoga)it was very noticeable.

So when I went for my routine check up in July, the surgeon and I agreed that the only option was to go for an LD flap on the lefthand side (I think he thought I was potty, “wanting to go through all that again”, but my experience was so good the first time around that it really did not bother me).

And I am equally as thrilled with the second op.

And as, effectively, I have had a double mastectomy, there will be no need for mammograms in the future, just annual checks with the onc.

I had a good recovery because that is what I wanted and expected.

Similarly, I got back to yoga and tennis because that is what I wanted and expected.

I decided at the very outset with this cancer stuff that my mind was the master and my body its slave - not vice versa.

Bubs x

Just bumping this up. Anyone else got experience of this?

Awadan
X

Hi, Awadan

I am afraid I don’t have experience with this type of reconstruction, but there is an earlier thread called ‘Strattice reconstruction’ started on December 7, 2009 - if you haven’t seen it yet perhaps it could be helpful…?

Lampochka

Thanks Lampochka. I hadn’t seen it.
Awadan