Houston, We Have A Problem. (graphic content)

Okay, so it’s no secret that I have delayed posting photos of my new breasts. Normally I am right on top of my photos and videos, but I’ve been so bummed out by the way I look that I haven’t even wanted to look at myself, much less share how I look. And that’s not really the nature of my site, I should have been better and been brave enough to share in case this happens, or is happening, to anyone else.

I have felt that the two sides looks so very different, and have been disappointed that my left side was lower than my right. The shapes were very different from each other. The scars were in different spots and pointing in different directions. It was very hard to look at, and I felt it was because I’m so close to the end that I’m just having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I’m never going to look normal.

Tonight I undressed for a shower and couldn’t believe how I look. First of all, there was a big circular area that I first thought was a bruise on the underside of my left breast. Then I realized it was a shadow, and that there is a large depression in that area. The area of my chest above the left breast looks skinny, like there’s no fat or muscle and you can see the outlines of my bones there. The left breast is now much lower than the right one, and in looking at it and touching it, it is almost as if the ‘hammock’ that was created by the alloderm has fallen and the implant is falling down inside my skin. I’ve been thinking that for some time, but thought I was just being silly or over-dramatic. But when Jon saw it tonight he was pretty freaked out and immediately started talking about how fast we need to get to Denver.

Actually, 2 days ago, before I noticed this, I scheduled an appointment with a new plastic surgeon to get his opinion of how things are going. I just felt like something was wrong. That appointment is on December 1st, but I’m a little freaked out to say the least. I’m going to see if I can find someone that can see me tomorrow. Jeepers I work with like 15 doctors, someone should be able to see me! But really, they aren’t reconstruction surgeons, so they may not be able to help.

And of course, there could be nothing wrong at all. We’ll see. But I did finally get photos. The problem doesn’t look as significant in the photos as it does in real life, and the lighting isn’t so great so you might be able to tell very much, but here goes anyway….

Photos, 5 weeks since the removal of expanders and the placement of the implants:

So, on what would be your right, you can see a little bit of difference. You can see that the one on your left slopes down from my upper chest to the breast, and the right one has more of the ‘stuck on’ look that the expanders had. Also, you can’t really tell how far down the breast on your right ends, but it’s actually about even with my elbow, and the other side has a defined curve and muscle attachment below it.

From this angle you can see the flatness of both breasts, but you can also see the difference in the way the one on your right looks.

You can kind of see in this photo the depression on the under side of the breast, as well as the kind of half moon shape under my breast-that is actually implant way down there. I can feel it.

This is what the ‘normal’ side looks like (ha ha ha, who would have thought my reality could change so much that this would become my ‘normal’??)

From this angle you can see, especially when compared with the one above, how this breast isn’t as defined, and how much implant is hanging down.

This is crazy. And very upsetting. I can’t imagine this can be fixed without another surgery. Will I have to start all over on that side? Will they have to remove the alloderm if it’s damaged, or can it be tacked up like a muscle? Will I ever look normal again? Will this ever be over???

Ugh. I know you are all sending thoughts and prayers, and I’ll keep you updated as soon as I can find something out. And I’m going to do my best to find someone to see me tomorrow.

Comments

  1. Hello Michele,
    I am so sorry you are having such a hard time. I hope someone is able to get you in soon, and check out the changes you are seeing. I think a second opinion is definately a good idea.
    My expanders where put in friday, and things went badly. My surgeon is an amazing wizard of an MD. (He even has the look blue sparkly eyes and long white beard!) I know the quality of his work as I have seen it repeatedly along my path many women have shown me their reconstruction. The full nerve regeneration caused my pain to skyrocket coming out of surgery and I had to be admitted on a morphine drip. I had hot, pain flashes, followed by cold, shaky sweats all night long. The nurses and my wonderful mother changed my bedding constantly. My husband had to go home to attend to our furry family members. I can not believe my life has been reduced to this. Just two weeks ago I was fighting cancer for a living, and now balancing pain meds vs. nausea is a daily challenge. I am surprised just how painful this is. How long did you have to take meds after your expander surgery, and did you have to take it on a regular basis when you got filled? I’m scared to get filled. My drains came out tuesday, and my MD did not want to even try, so next tuesday will be the day. YIKES!
    How long did you sleep upright? and when were you finally able to sleep on your side? Sorry for the barrage of questions but inquiring minds want to know! LOL! I am sending you healing health energy, and no worries, whatever the problem it’s all fixable, right?
    Take Care!
    Shelley

  2. Tina Ferrizzi-Pappy says:

    Michele,

    I am SO GLAD you are going to seek another opinion. You should DEFINATELY not be looking like that. I have one AMAZING Plastic Surgeon ( my artist ), here in Jax, so even if you have to make a trip here, it might not be a bad idea. He specializes in reconstruction and is just WONDERFUL.

    Shelley, I have had my expanders in since June. They were able to place my expanders in at the time of my mastectomy. I too had a very hard time with pain and your story sounds identical to mine. I don’t want to discourage you, but I have had to take pain meds off and on througout my fills. It seems the fuller I am getting, the more painful I am. Actually, I had a fill last Monday and I am still unable to lift my arms and I have been uncomfortable all week. The mornings are the worst for me. Once I get moving around, the pain seems to subside.
    I am still sleeping in my recliner. Michele shared with me on how she was able to sleep in her bed with lots of pillows etc. Unfortunately, it did not work for me, I have tried everything. The recliner seems to be the best way for me to be comfortable and sleep without waking up 20 times a night. Shelley, My phone number is 904-237-3737. Please feel free to call me. One thing I have learned from Michele is that we are never alone and we are all Breast Friends in this together. Hang in there Shelley, I have only one fill left and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I was only getting 30 to 50 cc’s at one time per breast. Don’t start out letting them put in 100 cc’s. Start with the smaller dosage and based on how you do, bump it up. This is also the best way to manage your pain.

    Michele, hang in there and please call me. I am here if you just want to hollar, scream, yell, cry, whatever! I know, it seems like we take 2 steps forward and 10 steps backwards. I am still waiting on my blood work results and am still very nervous about all of this. There is a good chance I have infection and will have to have the expanders removed to start ALL OVER AGAIN… SIGH.
    We are Breast Friends throught he good times and the BAD TIMES. We are all here for you and please keep us in the loop. I hate that you have been sitting on this yourself without letting us know so we can support you. I understand why you did it, but just know that you do not have to carry this burden yourself.
    I LOVE YOU MY BREAST FRIEND!!! You are in my thoughts and prayers and I am sending huge hugs your way.
    I Love you my BFF!!
    Shelley, hang in there honey.. Lots of prayers and love being sent your way as well.

  3. Kelly Savage says:

    Thanks so much for posting all this information. I just found you today. I had my exchange on Oct 13th. I am not happy. I commented to my PS that they don’t look right and he stated that they were not perfect to begin with. With that said, I don’t expect perfect but I do expect round. I had a Bilat Mast in January, did chemo for six months, and expected to be comfortable wearing a tank top or bathing suit with reconstruction. I actually thought your expanders looked great compared to mine. They were more flattened and seem to spread under my arm. I feel that my right breast is flatter than the left and there are indentions under my arm. Also, when I raise my right arm, there is a clear indention on my chest. I am 44 years old. If I wanted to wear bulky clothing, I could have not had the reconstruction.

    I have started to say at least I am alive but I don’t think I should have to settle especially looking at the amount I have been charged for all these surgeries. I do have insurance but I still have deductibles, co-pays, and responsibility for the 20%. I have another surgery scheduled for nipples but I am going to call next week for another appt for evaluation. Not sure what else to do. If I don’t get anywhere, then I will have to go for a second opinion.

    I really admire your strength and your courage. I will pray that you recover well. Thanks again!!

    Kelly

  4. Michelle,
    As a novice medical professional (haha) I’m so glad you are seeking a second opinion and getting in as soon as possible. Things do NOT look right and I’m so sorry things are not going as well as they should. NEVER be afraid to ask the Meds “Is this right?” it ir your right as a patient to have that question answered and it is my job as a future nurse to advocate for my patients. So, I am telling you ASK! Call me anytime and ASK! I left my number in a FB message for you. I hope all goes well, keep us posted!
    Sending love and prayers,
    Kara

  5. Hang in there Michelle and keep us posted. I am meeting with my surgeon on 12/9 to start my journey of mastectomy with reconstruction. We are all def “breast friends!” :) xoxoxo

  6. Hi Michelle,
    As the other women have mentioned, you are not in this journey alone. By not posting photos or words sometimes means to me that things are going along as planned. But when they aren’t and you want to scream, rant, and complain about it, we are here for that too. I am so sorry that you are having setbacks with the surgery, but I am so GLAD that as much as you realize they are not your original breasts, they are the ones you have to live with and you are aware and conscientious that something is wrong. That is a great thing. I am adjusting to the results of my implants and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to fill their natural breasts with these things unless there is a medical reason. Yes, they look nice in a bra but that’s the end of it. I am scheduled for a nipple reconstruction next month which will hopefully give them some life. My feelings on my breasts are a resounding “whatever” but it’s my fight and I want to win it.
    Good Luck and please keep in touch. To the women in this fight, I Love You All!!! We are bound by this disease. May God Be With You!

    Tracey

  7. Hey there – I’m wondering if fat injections would help fill out the flatter spots – it may be a simple fix, don’t give up the faith yet! The scars will fade over time too. Also, revision surgeries are pretty standard after reconstruction. I do think a second opinion is a good idea too – I hope the new PS can give you some reassurance. (((hugs)))

  8. Michelle, I feel your pain 100%. I had my expander implant exchange on Oct. 13, 2010. I now have the very same problem that you have. I am totally freaked out by the way that I look and the fact that I will have to have more surgery. When does it all end. I have an appointment with my plastic surgeron tomorrow and I’m very concerned about what he will have to do to repair this. Also, I wonder if the other side will have to be repaired as well. Please put me in your prayers, and you are in my prayers as well. Take care and let me know how things go with your PS visit. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

    Kathy Mabury

  9. Kathy, I’ve been thinking about you and hoping that your news was like mine, that there wasn’t anything to worry about and the problem can be fixed. I had to work extra shifts during the last few days and couldn’t write, but I have been keeping you in my prayers and I’m anxious to hear how your PS visit went. Please let me konw. I was completely freaked out too, and going to my first doctor really helped get me through the following days until I could get to my PS. From the very start I have had problems with my left side…it was square, the incision split, extra painful, blah blah blah. It’s a little exhausting to think about it. I am bummed about another surgery, but I knew going in that there would never really be an end to the surgeries. There’s always a chance of implant failure. Or rejection. But I’ve done what I can to make my life longer, and so if I have to have another surgery to make this right I guess I can stand that too. Please let me know what your surgeon said! I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and thank you for your prayers. You’re in mine too.

  10. Hey Teri! Thanks for checking on me and writing in! I’ve known that I would have to have at least 2 or maybe 3 fat transfers since the start, and I haven’t been too worried about the flat spots because I knew that most of it was caused by the swelling that’s still there at the ends of the incisions. I still have sutures and some swelling, as well as ‘dog ears’ that will be fixed during other surgeries. But I wanted to share what it looked like because it’s so hard to explain. I was also told from the very begining that I should expect surgeries throughout the rest of my life to fix and adjust. But I was ok with that, if it meant less of a chance of cancer. I still am ok with that! Whatever it takes to be healthy. I hope you are doing ok, you’ve been quiet lately too! Are you okay? I hope it’s just that you are busy for the holiday. Hugs to you too!!!

  11. Hi Lori! Good luck with the start of your adventure, and please let us know how it goes for you. I’m hear for whatever you may need! Any time you have a worry or need to vent, please come visit me! Take care, BFF! :)

  12. Kelly, I was shocked when I read your post! I can’t believe your PS said that! I know that reconstruction after chemo is more difficult, but I would think that he could give you a better reply than that. I have huge missing pockets under my arms, that’s what my PS calls the tail of the breast. My breasts don’t have tails anymore. Who would’ve thought I would learn what they were after they were gone! I will get new tails by fat transfer and I hope you do too. I have an indention on my chest when I raise my left arm. I talked to my PS about it, and he explained that when they do the mastectomy and burn out the tissue, sometimes it’s not symetrical and sometimes one side still has some breast tissue when the other side doesn’t. Which I take to mean that it was possible that both sides would have turned out that way except my mastectomy surgeon missed some breast tissue on the other side. My PS uses fat transfers to make up the tissue discrepancies left by the mastectomy surgery. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to look at, especially when it’s your body! I can tell that you are feeling frustrated, and I hope that you can get the answers you need from your PS to make things easier for you. So many times I had to remind myself that I was only partially through the surgeries, and still had a long way to go, and needed to have some faith in what came next. That doesn’t mean settle for whatever they tell you, but just know that all of our bodies go through this differently, and you still have a long way to go too. Have you gone for your evaluation yet? Even though I will probably keep my PS, I’m still going to go to at least one of my other appointments for other opinions (I would go to both that I have scheduled, but money is very tight and I may not be able to afford both appointments). And you are absolutely right, you don’t have to settle. You may not be able to do anything about your expanders, but you can stand up for your implant surgery. And on top of that, I would be very concerned about a PS that would talk to you that way. Please keep in touch, okay? Take care.

  13. Continuing to pray for you, Michelle. Your videos really helped me mentally prepare for my mastectomy (9/23) and reconstruction (12/1). My expansion process went quick because my PS was able to get 360 cc’s in my expanders immediately following my mastectomy. I had a lot of complications with blood loss though and was admitted for several days to receive a total of 4 blood transfusions. My ‘fills’ started a couple weeks after surgery and I got 60 cc’s 4 times, and 120 cc’s 1 time. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt immediately following my switch procedure just from the pressure of my the TE’s being out. I had my first post op appointment today, and have quite a bit of swelling on my left side because my PS had to do quite a bit of pocket work on that side, and I have to start PT/OT because I’m having issues with nerve pain and loss of ROM in my left arm. Hang in there. I’m glad you’re getting a second or third opinion. It’s your body and you are ultimately the one that needs to be happy with it. It’s enough of a mental drain to go through this process, let along have to look in the mirror and be upset by what you see. I don’t think there’s a single one of us who will ever look in the mirror and NOT see the scars, but you at least need to be at a place where you can look at yourself and be content enough to allow the emotional healing to start taking place. Praying for you daily!!!

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