Another apology for a late response!
I'm doing really well now, thankfully. Everything has been healing amazingly well, I don't think it could have gone any better, and I'm pretty happy with how things look and feel. Yes, there are a few downsides (e.g. loss of sensation), but there are also 'silver linings'. I was too large not to have a reduction first, and wow that was amazing, as was ending up not lopsided for the first time in decades. Having both done, you do get a well-matched pair with implants. And it's really nice to have them so perky! 😉 People say that implants don't look as natural, but quite frankly I'll take a pair of pert, well-behaved ones and I don't think they look that fake, and certainly not when I'm dressed.
In terms of photos, as mentioned below, I really struggled to find any pre-op. My surgeon didn't have any, and the ones online tend to be American 'buy my plastic surgery services' ads, with very stiff poses to show things off at their best. If you are still looking, the best place I found was oddly enough Reddit. I did end up in a slightly 'dodgy' part of the site at one point, but to see that post-mastectomy reconstructed breasts come in all shapes and sizes just like 'real' ones, that really helped. And, I mean, absolute kudos to the women doing 'glamour' shots of their scars and post-recon tattoos, and just showing that you can still have amazing body-confidence after all of this.
As for other treatment, while I've had chemo and radiotherapies in the past I'm not getting any this time thank goodness. I'm on 3 years of bisphosphonate infusions as an adjunct therapy. I've also just discussed with the surgeon having at least one go of lipofilling, as I do have a bit of 'rippling' where you can see the shape of the implant in places under the thin layer of skin, but tbh I wouldn't have been devastated if that wasn't on offer - I think I'm more a bit of "ooh, free liposuction" 😉
Keep asking those questions! Most of us love the chance to waffle and hope to do some good 🙂
@Teagold - apologies for the late reply to your question. Yes I am happy with my implant, it’s not perfect and doesn’t match my real one, but I use a small prosthesis over my real one to even things up so you wouldn’t tell once I’m dressed. If you have a double then yours should match each other. I chose implant for the shorter recovery time, and like you say no other wound sites - but from what I have seen and read tissue reconstruction looks more natural. It’s always a balancing game, working out what is most important to you, so it’s a very personal decision. Ask questions, of your surgeon and on here, and ask your surgeon if he/she has any photos of previous reconstructions for you to look at.
I was told that the recovery time for having a mastectomy and implant is about the same as having a mastectomy alone. I had mine about 4 years ago and I think I was unable to drive for about 3 to 4 weeks. The early days seemed challenging, but very quickly life got easier again.
I’m very happy to chat more about implants if that helps, and don’t be shy about asking any questions that you think of. Evie xx
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and share your experience. This is so helpful and also gives me a sense of the sort of questions I should ask the surgeon at next appointment - eg, had visions of being sent home with drains on both sides ask couldn’t figure out how that would work, so I can find out how long they would keep me in for.
Your point about having another surgery “hanging over” is very much on my mind - although I can’t really get my head around it yet because it feels so far off, I imagine that when I get to the end of active treatment (hopefully later this year - radiotherapy after surgery), I’ll want to focus on healing and recovering from the experience but having another surgery on the horizon might make this hard. Of course, things are unpredictable and it’s possible I might need some more treatment or some other kind of surgery anyhow etc - but I can definitely see the appeal of getting it all done in one go. Your point about a few months of inconvenience in the greater scheme of things is a really good one. It’s likely I’d be having surgery in the summer and my husband is a teacher and I have two school-age kids so hopefully plenty of extra hands around to help me when I come out of hospital.
How are you doing now? And did you have to have any further treatment after your surgery? I really hope you are doing well.
@Evie-S thanks also for replying - I’m leaning towards implants because also conscious that own tissue will create another wound site etc. I haven’t really got my head around the different options pros and cons etc yet and need to read the booklets I’ve been given. Are you happy with yours and how did you find the recovery from surgery?
Thanks again both so much for replying - it’s a huge relief to hear from ladies who’ve been through this and come out the other side!
I had a double mastectomy in January this year. I don't have any genetic mutations, but because of past treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, my risk profile was apparently just as high, if not more so. In my case, it was a skin and nipple-sparing mx, with immediate implant reconstruction. I'm really happy with how well it went, and the result.
Personally, I wouldn't have wanted to do the two sides at different times. That said, I'd already had a lumpectomy last April, then a reduction in September in prep for the mx in Jan. It was tough, yes, having those hanging over me. Each recovery was tinged with "until I have to start again". The feeling this time of being free of the 'next one' was quite heady!
I'd also say I think - for me - there was less of a shock being able to look down and see a matching pair of new boobs, both at the reduction and mx stages. I personally think it would have been really weird to have new/old comparison at that point? With all due love to those ladies with no option on that, of course. But I was going to end up with a whole new pair, regardless, and I think it helped me personally that they were just 'there' and no getting used to one while I could see the other, then having to readjust again?
With the lumpectomy I did get to try the single-side op, and while yes both at the same time was probably a bit more awkward - you don't have a 'good hand' to use more, no option but to sleep on your back - those felt like small things to put up with for a relatively short time, all in all.
For me, I stayed in hospital while the drains were in, which was 4 nights. I had help at home from family for about the same again afterwards, and then someone popping in twice a week to help with housework after that. Well worth noting that that was with implants, not own-tissue recon, where the donor site would have been a third wound to deal with. I know I started properly cooking again at about the 9-10 week mark, so that's probably a good sense of timescale on my recovery. I'm still happy to let someone else do the lawn mowing, right enough 😉
Absolute caveat that this is my experience and opinions and what is best for you may be quite different. I'm more than happy to answer any other questions you have, either here or PM.
Hang in there!
@Teagold - I’m sorry I can’t help with your question of a double mastectomy as I had a single one, but if I can help with any questions regarding reconstruction, let me know. I had an implant so would be happy to discuss that option with you. I also wanted to wish you all the best with your surgery and hope someone else will be along soon to discuss a double mastectomy. Evie xx
I’m currently having chemo for triple negative bc diagnosed in feb. Because of the size of the original tumour I’ve been told I would need a mastectomy on the cancer side but because I’ve tested positive for a gene mutation - not BRCA1/2 but something called PALB2 - I’ve been told that one way to reduce the risk of a second primary is to have a double mastectomy. The choice of whether to have both done together, or stagger the operations, seems to be mine to make - along with what kind of reconstruction etc. It’s a lot to take in.
I’d be very grateful for anyone’s experiences of a double mx - recovery time, coping after surgery etc. My understanding is that it’s a longer op and longer recovery but also can imagine hard to deal with two sides out of action at the same time, and drains etc. Or anyone who opted to have two surgeries a few months apart - did that help? Or was it hard having a second op hanging over you?
Thanks for reading!