My name is April Bhattacharya and I’ve created this blog to keep family and friends updated with my journey. I hope that others out there that are facing these same decisions find my blog encouraging and informative.

After losing multiple women in my family, including my mother, to breast cancer, I chose to have genetic testing. I found out in March 2010 that I tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation. This does not mean it causes breast or ovarian cancer, but it leads to an increased risk for its development. I have an 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 40% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. The general population’s lifetime risk for breast cancer is about 12% and less than 2% for ovarian cancer.

After doing much research, discussing things with my husband, talking with doctors and genetic counselors, I came to the conclusion that a prophylactic (preventative) bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) and reconstruction would be my personal best decision. By having this surgery I reduce my risk of getting breast cancer by 90%. I have also taken on a vegan diet. At 23 years old, I am empowered to take steps to prevent breast and/or ovarian cancer from taking my life early. I am grateful to be a woman with options that could change the future of my family.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cosmetic Surgeon Appointments

Oh my gosh what is wrong with me!? I can't believe it has taken me this long to post an update. Now things I wanted to say either seem irrelevant at this point or I'll probably accidently leave something out. For some reason lately I just can't seem to get anything done. I don't think it has anything to do with my PBM and reconstruction...maybe just other stuff going on in my life...I'm not busy at all so it's weird that I'm having a difficult time. Maybe its harder to get things done when you have less going on haha or maybe it's because I'm 24 years old and people say your 20's are just kind of weird. It's a time where you don't really know who the heck you are, friends are getting married/divorced, having babies, everyone going off into their own little shell. I'm currently not working for the year because I wanted to take time off and get all these surgeries behind me. I'm usually a pretty busy lady so having this year slow WAY down for me is starting to get to me. But I am trying to just stay focused on the positive! Anyways...I will do my best to play catch up here : )

Since my last post I have had two appointments with my cosmetic surgeon. One was a follow up from the exchange surgery and it was on Tuesday, May 31st. The other appointment was on Monday, June 27th and that was discuss the next steps for me in the reconstruction process. I always type out questions on my phone that I want to ask the surgeon at my appointments. It's a big help looking back through that right now to write this. I'm going to do a list of updates for each appointment since it's been a while from my last post.

My follow up appointment on 05-31-2011 post exchange surgery:

  • Massages-I was told after the surgery to keep the implants moving by massaging them. It's not the typical massage you think of...its more of pushing the implant around. I have to push the implants from the bottom up, holding for a few seconds and then letting go. Repeating this by pushing implants in from the outside as well as pushing up diagionally from the bottom. Just always making sure every push is going up and in because no one wants to push their implants down or out! : ) Doing this helps keep the implant soft and the pockets heal properly. I can really tell in the morning how much firmer they feel beacuse I've been sleeping all night and then after I push on them a little bit they are much softer. They will continue to soften over time.
  • Underwire bra-At this point I noticed my right implant falling out to the side almost a little too far. The surgeon said it was still okay, but that we didn't want it to go any further out. He wanted me to wear underwire bra 24/7. That's right. I had to wear a bra all day and all night. haha no fun. But it was to help the implant pocket heal properly and keep that right implant from going too far out to my side.
  • Restrictions-At this appointment the surgeon said I needed to continue to take it easy and I would need to stick to my restrictions until my next appointment with him 06-27-11. So I haven't been allowed to lift/push/pull anything over 10 lbs, no rigorous work outs/crunches/lifting weights/etc. I asked if I could jump up and down to play the xbox kinect and he said not until my next appointment. Also no swimming, but I was allowed to get into the water...just couldn't actually swim. Basically the same restrictions I've had before...being careful with the chest area and not doing anything that flexes my pectoral muscles while the implant pockets are healing. He did say I was free to raise my arms all the way up at this point...and I could do it day of this time! After the PBM in December it took a while to get my arms all the way up. This exchange surgery was soooo much easier!!
  • Sports bras-The surgeon didn't want me wearing a sports bra, cami bras, etc anymore. I was to stay clear of anything that would smash me down. Only wear great fitting underwire bras...he said push up bras would be best. That way while I'm healing the implants are held up and in. I was unable to find a good push up. All they did was make me look like I had 4 boobs haha No thank you! So I just stuck to some good underwire bras.
  • Scar diminishing cream-I'm back to using a scar cream twice a day. After my PBM I was using Scarguard and it seemed to do amazing in the beginning, but over time as my foobs expanded the gel would crack and not stay on well. And the pieces that did stay on ripped some of my skin off when trying to remove it. So I switched to a cream called Scar Zone and I'm loving it! I tried Bio-Oil for a couple of days and it clogged my pores and made a greasy mess. I'll be sticking to the Scar Zone! I'm already seeing great results from it.
  • Scars-My scars are smoothing out and will continue to. My left foob scar that I was worried about has already gone way down! The surgeon said he can fix it if it doesn't completely smooth out over time, but it should on its own : ) yay!

Appointment on 06-27-11:

  • Is there anything I physically shouldn't do at this point? No, I'm free and good!
  • Keep massaging
  • I can wear a sports bra to work out, cami bras, whatever I want. I need to continue to wear a great underwire bra as much possible, but I don't have to sleep in one anymore thank goodness!!
  • Next step for me-surgery for some small revisions on left implant pocket. This will happen on August 2nd and will be a day surgery just like last time.

I know that I have really great results and I'm so happy and grateful for that! There are just been a couple of things that have been bothering me and affecting how my bras fit. Basically my left implant needs to be moved out a little bit. Such a TINY bit! My implants are pretty close together and the left one in sitting a little too far in and just slightly not far enough out. I've really noticed this when trying on bras because my right implant fits perfectly in the cup and the left one has the underwire digging into it in the middle because the implant is too far in. If you look at the pictures you can tell that my left implant looks a little bigger and rounder than my right. So the cosmetic surgeon is going to go in and revise the left implant pocket a bit. He is going to bring it in a little on the inside and let it out a tiny bit on the outside. I hope this makes sense haha In the end it should look more like my right implant.

I have been debating this, but I feel really good going forward with this revision surgery. My surgeon said that I have really great results and most women would be completely satisfied! He did say that he understands what I'm talking about and that he thinks they look great individually, just not together. My surgeon is a perfectionist (like me) and said he wouldn't do this surgery if he didn't think it was possible. I have a lot of trust in him and he has already done such an amazing job! I still can't believe how great he made the left implant pocket look from where it was with the tissue expander. It has come such a long way. And now I hope it will look even better after this surgery!

There are of course some risks doing this...

1-Risk of a unifoob (one foob!). Since my tissue is so thin anytime he goes in there is risk of the tissue tearing and creating one big foob. eeek!! But this was a risk with the last surgery and the best way to prevent it from happening is wearing my underwire bra and sticking to the 6-8 week restrictions. I've done really well at not over doing anything, so I feel confident that I can be careful again after this surgery. If it does happen, then I would need another surgery to fix it.

2-Risk of the implant falling too far out to the side. Again, wearing a bra and being on restrictions will help prevent this. If this happens, the surgeon will fix it depending on how far it fell out to the side.

3-I could possible mess up a good thing. There is a possibility that my results won't look as good. I might not have a nice smooth curve along the inside and bottom of my foob. My surgeon's goal is for me to have this, but it's not a guarantee. This is the part that worries me the most. I'll just kick myself if it ends up not looking that great and then it was my decision to even have these revisions! But then the other part of me thinks, who cares...I can't go my entire life having issues with bras not fitting properly and me always staring at my left foob in the mirror wishing it would move over! I think my surgeon believes it will turn out great, but he just has to warn me of the risks. I don't feel like he would go forth with this if he thought I wouldn't be happy with the results. So I'm just praying for a beautiful outcome with no complications!!

It's important to get my foobs looking good and for me to be happy with them before moving onto the next phase...nipple reconstruction...or I should say "fipple" reconstruction : ) Because once that's done, it's done! And if I did any pocket work later after the fipples, then I would risk having my fipples pointing in different directions or being off centered and I don't want that!

I'm not mentally ready for the nipple reconstruction yet, but I'm pretty sure I want to do it. If everything goes okay with this next surgery then I can possibly do the nipple reconstruction surgery in October/November. If I decide I really want to do it, it would be nice to have it done before January because that's is when my insurance deductible starts over. There will be tattooing for the areolae that could possibly go into the next year (2012), but at least that's not a surgery...so if I can just get all my surgeries done by December that would be ideal. But I'm not going to rush myself into nipple reconstruction because of insurance...these are just my thoughts on the timeline of it all.

For now I am going to enjoy my freedom until August 2nd. I'm not going to think too much about the nipple reconstruction until this revision surgery is behind me. I'm excited to have this month to get back in a workout routine and lift/push/pull whatever I want!!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome, I caught the post when it was fresh! LoL. So glad to see you are back into the full swing of things. It was really great to see ya at James'. Positive that all is going to work out perfectly after this next "touch up".

I'm in Dallas for the week to be around our family, this being what would have been Mom's 60th on Thurs. Just a little game night at Sarah's for an honorary celebration. Rather to keep things happy and fun than doom and gloom ya know.

I'm so proud of you. Keep up the good work!

Luv Ya

Amy

jo bro said...

Just wanted to say thanks for your blog and the pictures.. I am scheduled for surgery on the 24th of Aug and Am scared to death.. You know if you already had the cancer you wouldn't have a choice you would know you had to do it.... With this I keep having thoughts about beating the odds you know.... That is until I see someone who is doing the chemotherapy and radiation .. You are so brave to of gone through this at your age.. May God bless you and keep you healthy

Milliscent Morgan said...

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Elina Mark said...

after plastic surgery I have really great results and I'm so happy and grateful for that.