Breast reconstruction - implant AND flap - MaryMoo

Procedure or Surgery Associated with Breast Cancer. Posted on September 9, 2012 View this journey (5 Experiences)

I had a rather unusual reconstruction experience that I would be happy to talk to anyone about. During the mastectomy, it appeared that the doctor got clean margins, so the plastic surgeon put in a tissue expander. The plan was to expand the reconstructed breast over 3 to 6 months and then replace it with an implant. Unfortunately, about 10 days after surgery, the detailed examination indicated that the margins weren't clean enough. My surgeon had done the best he could, so I don't blame him at all. It was very much borderline and they said the decision to do radiation was up to me - it was not strongly recommended. I decided to do radiation but that made the reconstruction more complex. During the six months of chemo, we slowly expanded the breast. Just prior to radiation, we deflated it. After radiation, we re-expanded but it was pretty painful and we could not fully re-inflate as the tissue was pretty tight already. For the reconstruction, my plastic surgeon (the BEST one in Houston) did a latissimus dorsi (back) flap to create a small pocket for the implant and then put the implant inside the new pocket. Implants can't go next to radiated tissue - they tend to get encapsulated. Although I am happy with the result, I still can't wear a bra 4 years after the surgery and I have to work constantly to keep the muscles flexible. I see a massage therapist twice a month to help as well. This surgery took longer to recover from than the mastectomy - a good 6 weeks. It was another 6 weeks or so till I felt like I could start my normal daily life.

Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
Minimal Recovery: Strongly Disagree
Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree

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