Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pink Ribbons ~ Nipple confusion

Pink Ribbons is a feature series I have started that is posted every Thursday.  I am a Pink Ribbon Warrior, having gone through the chemo, surgery, radiation, the year of waiting and recently stage 2 reconstruction...which I find is really the first of many little surgeries.  I am at a place in my life where I am willing to open my journal from that time and share with you my anger, fears, challenges and pain of finding out you have cancer.   This is me sharing with you from the other side of breast cancer.

These are not current events, events are from Sept. 2010

I have decided I'm not going to bother with reconstructed nipples.  They are not the same, no sensation...just an ornament to finish off the look.  I've been 38 years trying to keep them under control and hidden in my clothes.  I don't plan to deal with that again.  But I'm aware that many women NEED to finish the reconstruction to be comfortable with their appearance.

Hey Rosey....


It's interesting how a lot of cancers show up during pregnancy or nursing. But it would be a hard time to deal with cancer treatment and an infant! I hope she has a lot of support and I will be praying for Cheryl. Its interesting how different doctors treat this. I was confused by your statement she will be leaving with a reconstructed breast but they were taking the whole breast. I was naive here too. If they take the whole breast she will leave with tissue expanders in place. Unless shes doing a belly or back flap surgery. That is very painful and she will need a lot of help with children when she gets home. whew !

Paula - Yes, they're taking skin from her tummy area (she doesn't have stretch marks, but has 4 kids!  <insert jealous face here> )  She'll then have a little tummy tuck.   (I told her she was going be smokin hot by the time they got through)  She's a skinny little thing to begin with.  The doctor did say she would be IN THE BED for at least 3 weeks.  Her mother lives 2 houses down and will keep the baby for her.  She's already weaned him and he did really well.

To be clear...she was in some sort of surgery having the milk duct drained when the doctor realized it was not the milk duct.  Her first doctor was an A#$&& and was very cruel to her and her mother.  They left and got a second opinion, which saved her other breast, which the first doctor was going to remove.  He wasn't going to give her a nipple, said she didn't "need" it.  eek   I know Rosie said something about probably not getting one, but Cheryl is only 38 years old and wants her body to look nice after all of this.  (She is very concerned about how she'll look afterwards)  It should be a choice the patient makes, not the doctor!  Ya know?

This second doctor is going to reconstruct the breast to match the other one and give her a tattooed nipple.  She said in the photos that she saw it looks very real and you can't tell.  She'll have the no nipple surgery first, then go back later for the tattoo?  Or maybe to add the nipple?  I'm pretty sure he said he had to "make" it, then add it later.

Anyway, just wanted to clear all that up.  I'll be sure to post a prayer request for the day of her surgery, she asked me to have as many people praying as possible.

To be clear, it's a common misconception that women who have belly flaps (tummy tucks) will be "smokin hot" by the end of their surgical reconstruction.  You are taking muscle, fat and skin from the tummy region, tunneling it up to the breast area.  The doctors shape it, stitch and close everything up.  The tummy is often left misshapen and kind of funny looking.  But it should be flatter than before.  Not all doctors are conscientious bout where the belly button winds up.  It occasionally gets pulled off center and to the side.  It's really not an issue under your clothes but the few people I know with this problem REALLY hate it.
Most people do have a good result, but issues come up.  Research your plastic surgeon to find out if his patients recommend and trust his work.  It's important.  You will be looking at it continuously.  This IS the reason many women do reconstruct nipples...until the nipple is done and tatooed, it  doesn't really look like a breast.  Yes, the mound is there.  Yes, it fills out the darts on your blouses (which is why I want reconstruction) but they do NOT look normal.  Adding the nipple does give the illusion of normalcy.

Or opting for no reconstruction, just 3D tatooing...

No nipple reconstruction...3D tatooing only  :)  Fooled ya didn't it?

1 comment:

  1. This is great information. I've had a couple friends who have undergone this reconstructive surgery. Like you, they did not bother with nipples.