Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy & Reconstruction
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.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Wow! So much spam...
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Sorry for the delay!...again...
I actually have a general follow up with my plastic surgeon this Monday 25th. Now that I have this appointment I would rather meet with him to talk through some things and then do a more lengthly update here :) Thank you all for your kind comments and emails! I love hearing everyone's story. I hope y'all have a great and happy thanksgiving!! More to be updated here soon.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
It's been too long
Since my last update, I found a new wonderful surgeon and have since had two more surgeries with completely different implants. Crazy right? haha I'll explain why and details with photos in my next post this week!
Anyway, after all that happened I got so overwhelmed and depressed I couldn't bring myself to post here. I'm currently going through all of the emails y'all have written me and it's a great reminder of why I blog this journey. Each of you are so beautiful and encouraging. I love hearing everyone's story. It's wonderful having that much needed reminder that I'm not alone in this type of journey. So many brave and strong women out there. Thank y'all for the kind and encouraging words! Means the world to me.
Look for a detailed update this week! xoxoxo
Sunday, August 21, 2011
2 Weeks Post-Op Revision Surgery
The day before my surgery I found out that my report time was 9AM, but then the morning of surgery I get a call at 8AM asking me to come in earlier! I had just gotten out of the shower and there was no way I was going to get my hair dry, get dressed, drive and park in time to go any earlier than 9AM. The lady on the phone said okay and to get there as soon as I could. I told her I would be there at 9 like I was already told to and that calling me at 8 is a little last minute to change my report time. This made my morning a bit stressful and then when I got there the staff was acting like I was late! My nurse was rushing to get my IV and everything ready and said, "It's really important you are on time for surgery." I was so frustrated because I was on time!! Ugh. But oh well. When I got my papers in the mail to give a review of my experience I let them know how rude I thought that situation was. Hopefully that won't happen again.
Anyways...this surgery was similar to the exchange surgery. I took the Emend again a few hours before to prevent nausea. They also gave me Ketamine and the Scopolamine Patch again. The surgery lasted around an hour long and it took me a little under 2 hours to wake up. I went home right after I woke up. This time I was a little rushed getting out. I didn't really feel all the way awake...I could barely get myself dressed and walk to the bathroom...but the nurse was rushing me out saying, "Are you getting dressed?...You need to go home..." I wanted to tell her to be quiet and let me come to a little bit more and/or help me get dressed. I was at the day surgery building again like last time, but this experience just wasn't as good as before. My surgeon and his team were great! But the staff and nurses for that building were just not too pleasant this time.
I had Cephalexin for my antibiotic. My surgeon said it's not as strong as the Sulfameth that I had last time but I didn't care! I was not going to go through days of a horrible migraine again from the Sulfameth. The Cephalexin did just fine : ) And I had Tramadol again for pain and Zofran to prevent nausea from the pain meds. I took all of these meds until the Saturday after surgery. I only had a normal, minor headache coming off the anesthesia so that was great! I'm so happy I haven't gotten sick like I did when I had my PBM in December. That was rough. This revision surgery was the easiest so far!
I've had way less bruising this time. Just a little yellowish right on the inside curve where the main part of the revision was. The Heparin shot bruise on my thigh was disgusting again haha but those always are. I still have a little bit of a bruise from it right now. But my chest doesn't have any bruises as of today. I was able to take my steri strips off the day after my first follow up with the PA which was on Monday the 8th. I have one little suture sticking out of the end of the incision site that I will go get removed on Friday the 26th with the PA.
I had a follow up with my surgeon on Wednesday the 17th. Everything went really great! He said to continue to stick to my restrictions for the full 6 weeks post-op. Same as before...no lifting, pushing, pulling more then 10 lbs...no jumping, running, anything that would use my upper body. And this time around he has me wearing an underwire bra all day and all night. I started this the day after surgery. It was a bit painful that first week because the revision area was tender and the underwire was right on it. But it feels fine now. I have occasional shooting pain and itching on the inside, but its not too bad. It is uncomfortable to sleep in a bra, but its helping hold the revision in place for these first 6 weeks. I'm wearing balcony bras so the wire is higher in the middle to help keep the implants apart and in place. I've spent more money on bras than I ever have haha but I guess thats just part of the process...learning what's comfortable, good fit, different brands, etc. I've started using my scar cream and lotions again. Everything is going pretty great!
At my appointment we talked about the nipple reconstruction and I think I'm going through with it! I'll post more details on this next time when I upload my revision pictures. I wish I could see someone in person that has had the nipple reconstruction to give me some peace of mind about it...but I'll think I'll be happy with them. If all goes well, that procedure will be my last surgery! Shooting for an October date. Woo Hoo! If there is anyone reading this that has had the nipple reconstruction and is willing to email me telling me about your experience I would really appreciate it : )
Monday is our 2 year anniversary!! I'm so excited to take a break from life for a few days and enjoy sometime with my husband : ) I got a pedi yesterday, went to a friends wedding tonight and then off to celebrate our marriage! I'll post again after I see the PA to get my suture removed.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Revision Surgery of Reconstructed Breasts
I had all of my pre-op appointments last Monday the 25th. Everything went well. My insurance deductible has been met and this surgery is covered, I'm not pregnant, my blood work is all good and I don't smoke, drink regularly or take illegal drugs. hahaha so I'm good to go for surgery tomorrow!
I have Emend to take again 1-3 hours before surgery. That seemed to help with preventing nausea last time, so I'm glad to have that again. And last Monday I told them I can NOT take Sulfameth again for my antibiotic. That is what gave me that hellish migraine for days after my exchange surgery.
Today I am cleaning the house, doing laundry and cooking food for the week! Please be praying that the surgery goes well, I don't get sick after waking up from the anesthesia, and that my results turn out fantastic!
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Cosmetic Surgeon Appointments
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!!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Day 1 to 3 Weeks Post-Op Exchange Surgery-Graphic Content
|Right side view of breast tissue expanders|
|Left side view of breast tissue expanders|
|This is back in my room right after surgery. My husband said it took about 2 hours for me wake up.|
|I'm getting my clothes out to get ready to go home. Sameer said I didn't want any help getting my things together...I don't remember this at all haha|
|....I told him to take more pictures again : ) this was also about the time I was looking out the window seeing multiple birds in the grass when there was really only one hahaha Good times!|
|My sweet Audrina greeting me in the car as soon as we got home!|
|Right side view of wrapped chest|
|Left side view of wrapped chest|
|There was gauze over each incision for any bleeding. My right side gauze was pretty much clean and my left had a couple dots of blood.|
|Right side view 2 days post-op|
|Left side view 2 days post-op. No more crazy expander sticking straight out! Woo Hoo!!|
|My husband and I on 05-14-11. Only 4 days after my surgery and I was feeling great! I don't think anyone would have guessed I just had surgery.|
|My sweet girl Audrina : ) Always right there with me!|
|This was still 05-14-11. I was able to sleep in a loose tank top that I pulled from my feet up. It was nice to not have to wear only button ups.|
|Right side view in sports bra 4 days post-op|
|Left side view in sports bra 4 days post-op|
|Right side view 4 days post-op|
|Left side view 4 days post-op|
|Front view on 05-17-11, 1 week post-op. You can already see how much they've changed in just 1 week! Still have the lovely bright yellow bruises at this point.|
|Right side view 1 week post-op|
|Left side view 1 week post-op|
|Front view on 05-22-11, 12 days post-op. My bruising is beginning to fade! Yay! My steri-strips are still on, but some of them started peeling away. I trimmed any of the edges that were coming up so it wouldn't pull on my clothing.|
|Right side view 12 days post-op|
|Right side angle view 12 days post-op|
|Left side view 12 days post-op|
|12 days post-op wearing an underwire bra and shirt! I was able to get pretty much all my regular tops on after the first week, but I did need help getting them off over my shoulders and head.|
|Front view in an underwire bra 12 days post-op. No need for a push up bra! haha It was actually a challenge to find one with no padding. Everything has super padding these days!|
|Right side view in an underwire bra 12 days post-op|
|Right side angle view in an underwire bra 12 days post-op|
|Left side view in an underwire bra 12 days post-op|
|Left side angle view in an underwire bra 12 days post-op|
|Right side view 16 days post-op|
|Left side view 16 days post-op|
|Close up on the right incision, 16 days post-op. Its thin and smooth. The little dot you see on the end has one tiny loop of a suture sticking out.|
|Close up on the left incision, 16 days post-op. It's a little bit shorter in length than the right one. You can see the lumps on both ends of it. I'm sure they will smooth out over time.|
|Close up on the right incision, 17 days post-op|
|Close up on the left incision, 17 days post-op|
|Front view in a different underwire bra 17 days post-op. This is a D cup. The wire doesn't go as high in the middle as the other one. It is much more comfortable than the first bra I bought.|
|Right side view in an underwire bra 17 days post-op|
|Right side angle view in an underwire bra 17 days post-op|
|Left side view in an underwire bra 17 days post-op|
|Left side angle view in an underwire bra 17 days post-op|
|Front view close up in an underwire bra 18 days post-op|