• Has anyone else felt like their reconstruction is not part of their body?

    Asked by Nonnie917 on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

    Has anyone else felt like their reconstruction is not part of their body?

    I recently realized that I have been looking at my reconstructed breasts as not being a part of my body. I feel detached from them and felt no embarrassment when I saw my PS the other day about getting headlights (which I didn't want to do, but couldn't afford the 3D tattoo) and my lower stomach fixed from the DIEP I had done. He left too much fat on one side which of course made one breast really small. Plus my belly button has disappeared. So I go back in for surgery on June 1 to get all this done and fixed. That is what made me realize that I am detached from my reconstructed breasts. It is the strangest feeling I have ever felt in my life. Has anyone else had this type of experience? It would be interesting to see how you dealt with the situation so maybe I can get some ideas that will help me.

    26 Answers from the Community

    26 answers
    • karen1956's Avatar
      karen1956

      I'm not sure what you mean detached from your recon breasts...but I have implants and to me they are just there....they really aren't breasts...but I don't so much look at what I look like naked, but more how I look in clothes. I think I look okay in clothes, so most of the time I'm okay.
      all the best to you with your upcoming surgery...hope the end result is what you are hoping for....

      over 4 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      My implants are fairly new (January) so I'm still getting used to them. I feel that they're not really me but I'm very happy with my decision to reconstruct. How long have you had your implants? Maybe it just takes time to get used to them. Once you have the finishing touches done you may feel differently. Best of wishes on your surgery. Keep us informed.

      over 4 years ago
    • Mrssunbum's Avatar
      Mrssunbum

      I totally understand what you mean. I feel the same way. Double mastectomy in Dec. 2014. Tissue expanders , then exchange to implants 4/2/15. I refer to them as after market accessories. I have no "modesty" about them. No more than a wig, new pair of shoes or anything non personal. I am ok with that. The "stock" breast tried to kill me.
      Juddytjab may be correct. Maybe after the finishing touches, nipples , etc. they will feel more like mine? In the meantime, they are a novelty. Feel kind cool and gummy bear-ish. LOL most of my friends have felt them to check out what they are like.

      over 4 years ago
    • mcyars' Avatar
      mcyars

      I do know what you mean. I had a tram flap in 2011 and my breast and stomach area have very little feeling. It all looks good with my clothes on, but looks so foreign without my clothes. I can touch parts of my stomach and breast and not feel the touch. Knowing this, I would still have the reconstruction.

      over 4 years ago
    • PinkyPromise's Avatar
      PinkyPromise

      My double mastectomy was in Nov. 2014, but I still have my tissue expanders because the skin isn't stretching as much as it should (I'm only going for a B cup). Because of the way each breast is expanding outward or inward, my left one looks like it belongs in a 1990s Madonna video.

      The other night, my 9-year-old daughter was snuggling with me in our recliner. After she poked me in the left breast for the third time, I threatened to launch her out of the chair. "To be fair, Mom," she said, "this boob is closer to me now than it is to you." So yes, I know what you mean about feeling detached!

      over 4 years ago
    • DAB's Avatar
      DAB

      I'm sorry for your struggles with this and really hope that your next surgery works out for your best mental and physical comfort. I decided not to go with breast implants. My BiMx was in Sep 2014 and my BMI was too high to consider immediate reconstruction with any hope of a successful outcome. In Jan 2015 I was given my Rx for my prosthetics (finally) but after spending months healing and being flat, I found that wearing my foobies left me feeling a bit freakish. I went from having a lovely cleavage to no cleavage, and I felt silly and worse about my body image with them on then without. They are very much like shoes, a belt, etc and I guess I feel strange accessorizing my body with fake boobies. My decision to live flat was partially based on this experience with the foobies. I suspect that I would find inside or out, they aren't me, and for me, living without the artificial curves under clothing is better than with. Finding flattering clothing is harder without the feminine shape breasts give me, but it is getting easier and I feel more whole with nothing but me under my own skin. Haven't you noticed with time, however, every part of this journey gets a little more comfortable (or your coping skills perhaps improve)? Be patient and give yourself time to adjust. My PS said that I could always have them removed if I didn't get comfortable with them, but I just don't want to put my body through any more surgeries than I need. Just putting it out there for you as a consideration, should you feel the same way after you're healed after the June surgery.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jouska's Avatar
      Jouska

      I had a double mastectomy and TRAM flap reconstruction almost a year ago. My goal was mainly to look "normal" in clothes as I still work in a relatively high level professional position. Overall I am very pleased. I actually ended up smaller - a C cup rather than an almost DD.I told my plastic surgeon he didn't dare build me back to what I was or else!!!! So my clothes fit better. I also lost about 25 lbs through surgery and chemo, so some small side benefits to what was a very difficult and intense year. I am numb in my midriff and expect to remain that way. I knew my "breasts" would not be breasts, so I had no expectation that they would look or feel normal when naked. I am grateful to be where I am today, all things considered. Done with chemo, finishing up with Herceptin and hopefully moving on with life. I can pretty much do everything I did before - although I haven't attempted to lift a 75+ lb bale of hay yet. But I am actually ok with that . My guess is that over time, I will feel more and more like me and less like a science project. Hang in there and allow time to take its course.

      over 4 years ago
    • Steph921's Avatar
      Steph921

      I know exactly how you feel! I couldn't wait to get my reconstruction after a year with fake boobies. I thought once it was done I'd feel like my old self again and sometimes I do but they feel weird and look even weirder. I'm single and thought as soon as I was 'whole' again I'd want to get back in the dating world but it's been a year and a half and I'm still not comfortable enough to even try it. So I just work a lot, am in school and hang out with my cat and do some gardening. I do hang with girlfriends a lot but at this point am not sure I'll ever be ready for dating again.

      over 4 years ago
    • katiefnp's Avatar
      katiefnp

      Dear Nonnie917: I'm sorry about this disassociate feeling. I do know what you mean. I felt the way others &ere in our fine group are describing their new "breasts" as accessories. I had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction in October 2013 and still have the tissue expanders in. Yes, a little over a year and a half because I got a second primary cancer on my head that took precedence over my Triple Negative Breast Cancer reconstruction.
      In a way I think it worked out ok, though because the extreme firmness has helped the radiated skin stay stretched.The skin draping that "breast" kind of felt like tight shrink wrap due to the radiation. I feel detached from them. However, I love the way my clothed fit.
      As far as not being able to afford the 3D tattoo, that is supposed to be covered by insurance. Through my investigation, it is part of the reconstruction and shouldn't cost you extra. Please double check with your PS.
      I'm supposed to have my swap out to regular implants very soon.
      Easier said than done, please be patient and give yourself a break. We've all been through a lot. We are the least kind and forgiving to ourselves.
      Sending caring thoughts to all of us on What Next.
      Katie

      over 4 years ago
    • Suehendogirl's Avatar
      Suehendogirl

      Right now my breast are very irritating but I will get expanders out at the end of May. They do feel foreign to me. I agree with everyone though they are 100% better than the ones I had. Hopefully these won't try and kill me. Hugs to all.

      over 4 years ago
    • DAB's Avatar
      DAB

      Just wanted to add a final thought...body image is tough on most people, whether they've had cancer and subsequent surgery or not. Please don't be too hard on yourself or the new pieces or parts of you that are "almost" real. I'm learning that people in my life don't care too much about what looks or feels "normal" on me, but rather they are just happy that cancer didn't claim more of me than it did.

      over 4 years ago
    • Roadrunner's Avatar
      Roadrunner

      I had exactly the other feeling. I felt SO good with my implants and when I lost the first one a year and 5 days after they put it in due to an infection I went thru more grief then I ever did with the originals. I LOVED my implants and really miss them.

      over 4 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      What I'm finding out about costs is that Medicare will not pay for 3D tattoos bc they're done in a tattoo parlor and not a doctors office. That is what i was told by my PS and also the lady who does the 3D tattoos here in south Florida. I don't know if its the same for other insurance companies though.

      over 4 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar
      Nonnie917

      Thanks for all the advice I really appreciate it. Insurance will pay for the tattooing it is the tattoo artists that will not accept insurance. They want their money up front and leave the billing up to you. I had one tell me that she had too much trouble with insurance companies paying her that she decided not to accept insurance anymore. You pay up front and then bill the insurance yourself. Right now I just cannot cope. I am hoping that once the surgical process is over and I get the reconstruction finished and the tattooing done, I will feel better about it, but for now I am in never never land..:) I am also worried about my husband. He is having a PET scan of his left lung tomorrow and I am scared to death of what it might show. So I am trying to hold it together for him and not show him the fear that I am going through. Thank you again for all your help.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jesse0218's Avatar
      Jesse0218

      I had my mastectomy Nov 2014. I was able to have reconstruction right away. At times I'm still getting used to the feeling of it being there. I had pretty well adapted to it and in the middle of March, I started radiation. That caused it to swell again and now I'm aware of it again. I hope that once the swelling goes down, I won't be as aware of it. I am waiting to get the other side evened up but can't do that until I'm healed. My PS promised to make me 'look 18 again on both sides'. Nice change as I'm 64 now and gravity has taken its toll over the years. So, even though probably nobody even notices but me, I'm lopsided and uncomfortable with that. Nonnie 917, I hope that you can get your issues resolved and are comfortable again. Good luck to your husband too!

      over 4 years ago
    • Jbro's Avatar
      Jbro

      I had bilateral mastectomy in May 2013 with immediate expander/implant reconstruction. The expanders were no fun - hard, uncomfortable and odd looking. I had implant surgery 4 months later and nipple reconstruction at 6 months, tattooing at 8 months. I had capsular contracture issues and had new, smaller implants put in May 2014. Overall, I'm very satisfied but the "foobs" definitely don't feel like they're part of me. I look very natural in clothes and pretty good au natural. The nipples/tattoos really help to camouflage the scars. My reconstructed breasts feel soft to touch but have no feeling and I find that in the winter they get very cold and achy. The reconstructed nipples were "headlights" at first but have flattened out so they don't show under clothes (even without a bra). I'm glad i did everything. Good luck to you and you husband.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jouska's Avatar
      Jouska

      Jesse0218, just curious about what kind of reconstruction you had.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jesse0218's Avatar
      Jesse0218

      Jouska, not sure of the name of the reconstruction I had. Only that they were able to put the implant in right away. And, it's silicone. He'd hoped he'd have enough blood flow to do it that way instead of having to do the expander. I was lucky in that respect, I guess. This probably doesn't really answer your question.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jouska's Avatar
      Jouska

      Actually it does. I was thinking it was either the TRAM or the DIEP, so good to know it wasn't. Thanks so much.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jesse0218's Avatar
      Jesse0218

      Glad it did help answer your question.

      over 4 years ago
    • Oceansidesteph's Avatar
      Oceansidesteph

      I can totally understand where you're coming from. I felt the same way, I would look in the mirror and see a XXX attached to my chest. I was getting phantom pain and itches that I could not feel when I would scratch them. It wasn't until I got the nipple reconstruction that things changed. I remember being in the shower shortly after the surgery, no bandages, I looked down at my new nipple and thought "there you are! I've missed you!!", it was a very powerful moment, it was crazy how my mind was tricked into believing that it was actually my nipple! I never ended up getting the tattoo, all I needed was the nipple to feel like my old self. Good luck to you, hope this helps.

      over 4 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar
      Nonnie917

      Thanks everybody. It has been two years since my last operation for the reconstruction and it has taken me this long to figure out whether or not to do the tattooing. I was sure surprised to find that the artists wouldn't accept the insurance. My PS has a tattoo artist in his office so I have no idea how they are going to look when she gets done. I hope she has a picture catalog of some of her work so I can get an idea of what I am going to look like when she finishes. I have no scars because there was a communication gap between me and the PS when I asked him to fix a scar for me because it was misshaped and didn't look as good as the others. He thought I wanted them removed. So imagine my surprise when I work up and found the scars gone. Wasn't expecting that. Anyway, June 1st I will get a general idea of what I am going to look like once the headlights flatten out.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jbro's Avatar
      Jbro

      The tattoos fade quite a bit over the first year. Don't be alarmed in the beginning. In fact, I'm debating about getting mine "touched up". I had mine done by a woman who came to my plastic surgeon's office.

      over 4 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar
      Nonnie917

      Thanks Jbro, I had heard that they do fade with time. So I will talk to her about it before she starts working on me. I probably won't be able to get the tattooing done right away because the headlights have to heal. So we will see what happens when the time comes.

      over 4 years ago
    • 813bubbie's Avatar
      813bubbie

      I totally agree . I have had the reconstruction, but not the implants yet. They are ugly & hurt all the time. I can't call them my breasts, because they aren't. They are just there. Hoping I'll feel different after implant. Not happy.

      about 4 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar
      Nonnie917

      Back again, I had the headlights put on and they are starting to flatten out some. Looks pretty proportionate and even. The PS said that his office will call me with the two weeks to schedule the appointment for the tattooing. My husband's CT scan came back normal. Whatever it was he had the scan showed that it was shrinking. So I am assuming that it was related to his pneumonia. That man is so stubborn that he won't get a flu shot or his pneumonia shot. And, neither of us has had the Shingles shot. I did some research on the flu shot and found that the thing has mercury in it as a preservative. No more flu shots for this gal. I don't want that poison in my body.

      about 4 years ago

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