Tuesday, February 16, 2010

6. details

so how exactly do you reconstruct breasts after they have been removed? well...fortunately in this day in age this is "not your mother's or grandmother's mastectomy". things have changed and improved over the years.

i am going with a procedure called "nipple sparing pbm with tissue expanders to implants." this type of reconstruction involves 2 surgeries.

first off, i will have the mastectomy, where my actual breast tissue is removed by my oncologist breast surgeon. in addition to the breast surgeon i have a plastic surgeon who will begin reconstruction at the time of my mastectomy. when the tissue has been removed from each breast, the plastic surgeon (ps from here on out) will then insert tissue expanders beneath each of my pectoral muscles.

tissue expanders (adjustable implants) are sort of like an empty balloon. they are placed behind the chest muscle (pectoralis muscle) to stretch the muscle and skin until the new breast mounds each reach a size that is slightly larger than the desired final size. the partially inflated expanders are inflated in stages weeks following surgery after my surgical incision sites have healed, however i may have an initial fill at the time of surgery. small amounts of saline solution (salt water) are used to inflate the expanders via an incorporated valve built in to each expander.

a second surgery is required (hopefully and most likely out patient surgery) to remove the expanders and replace them with permanent breast implants. i have chosen mentor high profile round cohesive silicone implants.

what's that you say? silicone? silicone has come a long way too. and the type of silicone implants i am going for does not leak. in fact, you can sort of compare them to gummy bears!

if for some reason the implant ruptures or breaks down the silicone will not leak because it sort of resembles the texture of a gummy bear!


  1. This is an excellent blog post! I love how you put the pictures up here and broke it all down for everyone. Are you on facebook? I have a BRCA Sisterhood group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=222632592032) that I'd like to share this blog entry on - I think it could be very helpful to others trying to decide what type of reconstruction option to go with. Great job Rachel!! And best of luck!

  2. hey teri,

    please definitely share this post on your brca sisterhood site. that would be great!

    would you consider revising your information section on your facebook group to include us HBOC (hereditary breast and ovarian cancer) girls that do not have a mutation but almost an equally high risk? we often feel very overlooked an not included. just a suggestion.