reconstruction options

Hello - I am not sure if I am posting this in the correct place, so apologies if I haven’t but I am new to the forum. I am wondering if anyone could give me advice or share their experiences. My situation is I have HER2 Positive. I have also had surgery to have the tumour removed (it was 7cm) and I have had all the lymph nodes removed - of which 11 out of 22 were cancerous. I am just about to finish chemo (fec and tax). I have a line in and I am on herceptamin for 12 months. I am due to have a mastectomy and then radiotherapy. I have been asked to decide which type of reconstruction I want as it is ‘patient choice’. I have read as much as I can but I could do with hearing others experience of implants v taking muscle from body and so on

Hello Hibald,just been looking on reconstruction and came across your post,i too had a 7cm tumour,had 11 nodes removed of which 4 infected.Had fec-T,radiotheraphy and had my last dose of Herceptin yesterday.I have been to see my PS and i am on the list for LD with implant(sometime in june).What swayed me in this decision was a couple of ladies in waiting room( when i went to see surgeon), who had already had LD reconstructions,they were good enough to show me the implants(in toilets)i was very impressed.Good luck with whichever recon you decide on.x

hi Tigerpig and hibald. I had a mastectomy and an immediate ld back flap and implant, 5 weeks ago, I know it’s early days but I am really pleased with my progress and the look of my new breast. The operation took 9 hours, I was in hospital for 6 days. I had a cathetor in for 24 hours and 4 drains that were all removed before I left hospital. I left hospital taking only paracetomals and codeine. Now 5 weeks later I am walking a couple of miles at the weekend with my husband and dogs and hoping to start driving next week. My physio starts on the 07th March. I can honestly say, since the operation I have not really been in pain, my new breast just feels different and uncomfortable. Please feel free to ask me any more questions or PM me, I am only too happy to share my experience. The support of others on here really helped me when I was making this important life changing decision. I am really pleased with my decision it was the right choice for me. Big hugs to both of you xxxxxxxxx

Hi Cheryl17,thanks for your info on your experience,sounds like you are doing really well.I have been living with a mx for 2 years in may so i am very excited to be having a recon.I find prothesis heavy and uncomfortable.Always have to be careful whilst bending forward that folks dont get eyefull of my non breast!(just a gaping hole)
I really want a recon but iam very frightened to be having major surgery again.Once they put the sleeping juice in…wake up with new breast,sounds so easy…lol x x x

I am booked in for my reconstruction on March 22nd. I am having a pedicled Tram Flap which involves taking flesh and muscle from the abdomen - I have had to put on weight before I could be considered for this operation (which wasn’t hard to do)

Like tigerpig has said, the thought of major surgery is quite daunting and I know the recovery time is quite long. BUT I am doing this for me and no-one else. I don’t feel I can move forward until my body looks “normal”. Having said that, I have a couple of friends who made the decision to live breast free and they are quite content. It’s down to each individual to decide what they want to do and down to the surgeon to advise on what would give the best results.

Good luck with everything Cheryl17

Hello Ladies,
I had 2 tumours in my breast and 12 out of 13 nodes were cancerous.
I had a mastectomy last march as soon as they found the cancer then I had 4 x fec and 4 x tax and a month of radiotherapy.
I am HER2+ and ER- and am booked in for surgery on 15 March 2013. I am having a lattisimus dorsi back flap which involves taking skin, fat and muscle from the back and I am also getting an implant. I am also having my remaining breast removed and reconstructed on the same day. I have saw photos and watched some videos on youtubes and have been told that its a big operation but its amazing what they can do these days. I have also asked my surgeon to make my breasts a bit bigger than before, why not get something I want out of this!
I think its best to speak with your consultant and decide the best option for you and your body.
All the best x

Hi, I thought you’d like to hear from someone a little further down the line. I

had a delayed reconstruction by tram flap 2 1/2 years ago with nipple reconstruction 10 months later followed by tatooing. The tram was a a big op to recover from. I was bent double for a week and couldn’t drive or do house work for ages. I wasn’t in pain as the trransplanted tissue had no feeling. But it was worth it. The boob looks great and no scars show in a bikini! The tummy scars upset me at first but they are very faint now and by about 6 months after the op just looked like those imprints you get whem your knickers are too tight. The tummy line is under the pant line. I thought I’d never get feeling in the new boob but when I went to get the tattoo 2 years later it stung under the nipple although not above. I tell eveeveryone getting a reconstruction is like extending your house. Your excited when you plan it, nervous at the start, wish you never had the idea when your in a mess at the middle and so pleasd you did it when the job’s all done and you can admire the results! Good luck ladies!

I love the anolgy on the post above brilliant, had mx in 2009, hated living with prothesis, diep flap last year, first time in this whole thing I had control over what happened to me, so glad I went for it even though was really freaked out before hand, am awaiting next stage due next month. Don’t regeret having recon in the slightess and if I had to would do it again. And by this I’m not saying it isnt a big deal it is and is a lot to go through but for me worth it in the long run
Whatever you go for good luck

Hi Soupertrouper, I’ve read quite a few of the ladies experiences with reconstruction, but it was really so my same thoughts all of what you said, I shall follow you on the forum as well as others, and I so wish you luck on 22nd March, I know I am ready for mine on 9th April, it will be two years in June since mx. another big op of course but have to be poitive, we’ve got this far fighting and we can do it again, like so many others…x
Good luck to all the other ladies on their recovery, they really seem happy with the decisions they made…

I need some advice please… Currently having chemo number 3 due Thursday. Have been told I will need 3 weeks of rads afterwards. I had mx 20th Dec and didn’t have reconstruction (my choice) as scared of the cancer and wanted to give myself the best chance. Financially struggling, so thought I would see this year out by having recon after treatment and then start next year all done and ready to return to work. Have been told today by breast nurse, that PS wouldn’t operate on me for another year at least… I’m gutted I was ready mentally to do this and now feel the rug has been pulled from me and now recovery and normal seems a lifetime away.
Question… Has anyone had recon a couple of months after rads? As it seems skin is too hard after rads, but I thought they would use my stomach and skin graft…or have I got this all wrong???
Advice please and any good PS in Essex/London
Thanks Maggie x

Hi

I had a Tram Flap reconstruction in 2010. Its a very big op to get over, but in my opinion, its worth it. I am very pleased with mine, its better than wearing a hot heavy prosthesis. I have aso had nipple reconstruction and tattooing. It looks very good.
Feel free to ask any questions.

Carolyn159

Hi Maggie1964,
I was unhappy with my hospital and was referred elsewhere after chemo. Happier with surgeon and PS, but gutted to be told today that I will have to wait a full six months after Mx (booked for 11th March) before I can request to see PS and go on his waiting list. So, will be lopsided for at least 14 months. Rads aren’t an issue for me, as I finished mine 21 years ago. I do wonder if this is rationing. Immediate reconstructions are seen as an emergency, but delayed ones are not.

Hello All - just to say many thanks…I’ve read with great interest so many of you lovely ladies post. It has been lovely hearing how so many of you have undergone different types of recon, majority I believe with no regrets…tank you for the advice and feedback

Hi everyone,
I had a mastectomy with ld flap, expander implant and strattice mesh on July 12th. Because I had had a lumpectomy and radiotherapy 5 years ago, I also had a substantial skin graft as well. It took a long time to heal completely - about 9 weeks, and the implant filling started three months after that, the week before Christmas. This was done 50 ml a week for 8 weeks, so that the skin was stretched slowly, though I must say it felt quite brutal at the time! I am on a months rest now, before seeing the surgeon again to fix the date for the expander to come out and the permanent implant to be put in place. Some tidying up under my arm will also need to be done then. I will also need a lift and reduction on my non BC side, and I am unsure whether I should have that done at the same time or not. (Bigger op versus yet more waiting).
Its a long process and I wish everyone all the best with their decisions.
Jojo

Maggie, my plastic surgeon will do recon at 6 months past rads. Unfortunately the waiting list at my hospital has meant that although I was put on the list in dec, it is unlikely I’ll have my op till June time and I’ll be 9 months past rads. He explained that to do op before 6 months would result in a poor outcome, the skin continues to change over the 6 months and then settles down after that. To do it before the skin has settled means the new boob can become misshapen, so it seems the waiting has to be done if you want to have a good result, like you I had thought I’d get it all over and done within a yearor so. I was diagnosed last Feb and when put on list in dec had been led to believe it would be March / April and I thought I could get back to teaching in Sept. This may or may not be the case now, initially I was really upset. But perhaps somethings happen for a reason, two weeks ago I broke 3 ribs in my back so if my op had come through I prob wouldn’t have been able to have it and i would have been gutted !! I’m learning to take it a day at a time!!
Good luck with everything
Gaynor xx

Thank you gaynor for replying, have you decided what recon you will have implant/own tissue?
I’d be interested in hearing about your choice.
All the best
Maggie x

Posting on behalf of Eileen101 - Jo, Facilitator

Hi Ladies I am to have an mx on 26 March, I as you can imagine am still in a state of shock…anyway I asked for an immediate re-con and the surgeon was very reluctant about this as it can be a five to six hour operation doina a back flap re-con. The option of an implant was never really discussed other than it wouldn’t be an option as over time my other breast would drop and this one with the implant would not. I think I would prefer the implant and if things get very out of sync down the line then get an implant in the other breast. Seems to make sense to me rather than having a 6 hour operation. Can anyone share their experiences on this. Thanks Eileen

Maggie,
im due to have a pedicled tram flap ( using stomach flap and part of six pack muscle). I am having a bit of the heebie jeebies about it at the moment as keep reading about problems with stomach etc afterwards. I’m starting to think why mess things up and have my expander out and just have one boob. i go to a recon group who are really helpful so need to express some of my fears there. I also don’t personally know anyone who has only one boob and prosthesis so perhaps I need to talk to someone who chose that path. Perhaps bcn could help me with that. None of this stuff is easy is it?
Gaynor xxx

Hi Carolyn,

this is the type of option I am looking at or the tissue expansion_._

Did the nipple recontruction take place at the same time or did you have to wait and for how long. what type of scarring are you left with both around the breasts and tummy. I will be getting a bilateral mastectomy at the same time as reconstruction so trying to find out as much info as i can. I have large breasts 36F and will reduce to possibly an A or B if i go with this method. how long did it take to get over it and was there any issues with your tummy?

if there is anything else you can help with, would appreciate it as right now i know no-one who is going or been through the same decision

Hi Gaynor, firstly how did you find a recon group in your area?.. I would be very interested in finding one so I can discuss in detail my options…
I know what you mean about not bothering about recon, I’m 48 and couldn’t imagine being left like this for life… but the thought of surgery and recovery keeps picking away at me. Also, I haven’t been at work since sept, and am only half way throughchemo, and still have rads to go… I need to know whether I go back to work this year or have surgery and go back next year (68% of salary covered by company insurance for 5 years)…but if I go back to work the policy is cancelled out and my company will only pay sick pay after 12 months again (rolling year policy)… I just don’t feel in control of my life at present.
Good luck to you, keep us updated of your progress
Maggie x