Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Next Surgical Step - Fat Graph Transfer

Hello to my Blogger Breast Buddies!

I interrupt this week's Pink Ribbons release for an current event.  At the release of this blog update, I am preparing for my next surgery.  Many people, me included believe that reconstruction is one surgery and BOOM! 

New Boobs!!!  

Trust me in this, most of society believes that as well.  I have been "encouraged" by multiples of strange women wishing me well on the great and "free" boob job I would get in exchange for breast cancer.  "You're soooo lucky" they tell me.  Ha!  I'd like to show them my luck!

I'm not familiar with the details of other forms of reconstruction.  I refer to my reconstruction with implants.  If you are familiar with my story, you know I have breast cancer.  In 2010, I went through chemo, and then had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.  That's its own story.  I had immediate reconstruction with tissue expanders that stayed in a LONG time due to radiation.

Last July (2012) I had the surgical exchange of the tissue expanders to the implants.  The initial result looks nothing like a breast, but more like a biscuit or pancake.  It is a LONG process for implants to drop and fluff and start resembling breasts.  It was around week 13 that I said, wow...there's been a long of change; I'm fitting in a bra like a normal boob.  For anyone going through implants, I recommend photographing yourself each week to see your progress.

Most people think the implant is the end and perhaps if you are fortunate, it would be.  But most people have to have some kind of "Revisions" to fix things that didn't go as supposed.  I was recently asked "So why are you having more surgery ANYWAY?"  It was rather hurtful to have it phrased to me that way, as if I should just be done with it.  I am having surgery because we do not have a successful result yet.  One side is tolerable...not wonderful but I'm satisfied with how it fits in a bra.  But the right radiated side has not done well.

In my case, radiation caused excessive scarring that distorted the skin so severely, the implant could not position itself properly in the muscle pocket. This has caused pain, immobility and generally made me miserable.  This motivated me to name the implants.  Glinda (the good) sits on the left side and Maxine (the cranky) is the radiated side.  Click the link to see a shot of my distorted breast implant. 

 Revealing Size and Contour Discrepancy

The skin is so scarred that essentially it feels like there's a strap across the implant holding it tight against the rib cage.  The implant is unable to drop and expand.  Because it is held against the ribs, it won't fit into the bra properly and requires padding to even out the contour.    You can see this effect by clicking this link 

Friday (the 7th) I will be undergoing fat graph transfer surgery to attempt recover that skin with new stem cells harvested from my personal "fat farm" I have been cultivating around my middle.  The hoped for outcome is that injecting the harvested fat and stem cells will stimulate new fat growth with new SKIN cells to even out the contour and replace the damaged skin.  I am already aware it may take several of these surgeries generally more than 3 months apart to repair this kind of damage.

I have included a video of the surgery.  It is live surgery; please avoid it if you are unable to tolerate watching surgical procedures.

The actual transfer building and repairing the breast implant and skin repair in this second video.  

Again same warning as the previous.

This is the next step in breast reconstruction.  Just another page in the long process that I have begun to realize doesn't really end.  You just move from one process to another.

But it is another surgery.  I plan to strut into the clinic with my hospital gown and my pink Boa!  I'm not exactly looking forward to recovering from the liposuction part of this.  I have a wonderful husband who plans to pamper me through the weekend.  I expect to recover quickly from the few hundred punctures with those garden hose sized needles, along with the small incisions.  But I would appreciate your prayers for an uneventful recovery.  

Next week, I'll be back to the Pink Ribbons talking about the night before that first Chemo infusion.

Addendum - I am doing these fat graph revisions because the radiation damage is severe enough that my only other recourse is to undergo a completely different reconstruction.  The remaining option for me involves serious flap transfer surgeries that scare me a bit.  So I'm trying these lesser surgeries first and praying for good responses.


  1. Praying that everything goes according to plan! Love the pink boa!!

  2. You are so brave! it is one thing I admire more in you than even your amazing sense of humor! People just don't *think* before they speak. Grace is what needs to be extended...then forgiveness which is something I have often struggled with and *I* was not even the one in hospital or ill. When my hubby had emergency surgery years ago, we nearly lost him more than once. A person, whom I am sure had no clue what she was saying was 0_0, said to me "Wow, you must love all the quiet and opportunities to be in prayer". Huh? Um, no actually, my brain can only think about the next medical decision that could put an end to his suffering.
    So, I am sorry people do not think and I am sad you are struggling and sad you need more surgeries and sad that I live too far away and cannot come by and make you a meal, clean you house, and have a cuppa cawfee with ya! But I rejoice WITH you knowing that He's got your boob---I mean you back---I mean HE HAS THIS ALL UNDER CONTROL :0)!!!
    Praying for you!