Breast Reconstruction

The Reconstruction Saga Continues

I have been putting off writing this post about my implant exchange surgery for about 6 months. It took me some time to adjust to the results of my ever changing body and process my feelings associated with this stage.  Now that I am a ways out, I can look back with more clarity and share my experience in a way that may help others prepare for this stage of reconstruction process.

I last wrote about the breast reconstruction process in my posts about the expanders and prosthetic nipples. The expanders were like cement blobs on my chest, that kept me from ever sleeping comfortably. By the 9th month of living with the expanders, I had come to love them (in appearance only). They were perky and round and had settled just enough to look semi-normal in clothing. As my husband would said, I looked like a sexy fem-bot.

Just when I had finally come to terms with my appearance with the expanders, it was time for my exchange – the surgery where the plastic surgeon (PS) swaps the expanders for implants and rebuilds and scar tissue pocket. I felt like I was well prepared for this surgery and had set realistic  expectations. I was an informed and educated patient and I thought I was ready for this next stage.Right before my surgery, Natrelle came out with a new FDA approved “overfilled” silicone implant. The “overfilled” feature helps prevent rippling, a common concern for thin women following reconstruction. I was very excited about this new option and was looking forward to the surgery and moving on with my life.

For reference, my expanders were filled to the maximum capacity with 860cc of saline (60cc more than the largest implant – 800cc). This photo was taken the day before surgery, my last chance to play with my magnetic abilities.

I knew that the results would not perfect, but I was optimistic. My PS warned me that the implants would look more natural and thus less perky and round. She also warned me that I may need multiple revisions to get the desired cosmetic outcome. While I accepted this reality, I still held out hope subconsciously that I would love the initial results. For so long I had looked forward to this stage of the process as the icing on the cake, the final step in reconstructing my body and finding love for myself. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Prior to the surgery I told my surgeon that my goals were size and cleavage. The largest implant is an 800cc, so she selected a variety of sizes from 700cc-800cc and she would see what looked best once we were in the OR.  That entire cart of implants is just for me!

In order to create cleavage, my plastic surgeon revised the implant pocket by tightening the skin and scar tissue on each side in order to push the cavity towards the center. This is my simplistic explanation and obviously the process is much more complicated. Here I am all marked up for surgery.

The surgery itself was a breeze compared to my other surgeries, which involved multiple complications. My PS knew how to proactively treat my blood disorder now and everything went off without a hitch. When I woke up from the surgery, my first concern was size haha. It turned out, she was able to use a 750cc implant. While I was disappointed it wasn’t 800cc, I tried to trust her judgement. A larger implant that was too large for my chest width would have looked unnatural. When I got home and looked at my chest, I was very happy. The implants looked amazing, though they were quite swollen and I experienced a bad rash from the iodine. The best part was, I even had a little cleavage. I finally felt like a woman again.

I could finally move and sleep without discomfort – so long rock hard implants.

The pain was significantly less than my other surgeries and I returned to work within a few days. I did have to abide by the 5lb weight restriction for 1 months and I quickly learned how many everyday actions require pulling, pushing and lifting over 5lbs. Who knew how hard it is to open a large door without using your chest muscles.

So, you might be wondering what went wrong. It seems like everything went smoothly and that I was happy with the results. Well, that happiness quickly faded. Even though I thought I was prepared for the results and the stage of the process, I was wrong. I underestimated how hard it would be to adjust to yet another bodily change. I had been holding out hope that everything would be perfect and I would be done with this reconstruction nightmare. I wanted to go back to being “normal”, fitting into everyday clothes and not having to feel like a cancer patient. Unfortunately, this surgery was not a magic pill to erase the last year and a half and make me look and feel like a “normal” woman again.

As the surgery began to heal, the swelling went down and the size and shape of my reconstructed breasts began to look different. They were smaller, less perky and lacked the smooth round shape I had come to love with the expanders. I was devastated. I had so much riding on the success of this surgery and I felt an immense sense of disappointment. I would text nightly with another breastie who had surgery at the same time. We were both unhappy with the results and commiserated about our disappointment. I tried to focus on what went well, but I was so unhappy with my body that I sunk into a depression.

To an outsider looking in, it may seem like everything looked fine, but I was crushed. Nothing prepared me for this emotional adjustment and the pressure I had put on myself to be happy with this stage of the process. I stopped looking at my body and covered up in large sweaters and scarves, anything to take the focus away from my chest. Looking at my chest, constantly brought me to tears. The only thing that brought me comfort was counting down the months until we could discuss revisions and my next surgery to “fix” things.

At the 3 months checkpoint, things had improved slightly, but my surgeon wanted to wait another few months before talking about fat grafting and revisions. My stitches hadn’t fully dissolved and she felt the with time things would settle further improving the cosmetic appearance.  She was also concerned about my bleeding risk as compared to the necessity of the revisions. I left this appointment in tears, disappointed once again. I had spent the last three months waiting for this moment, the next stage, hoping that would bring me some happiness and closure. Now I had to wait even longer.

As the months passed, I thought about my implants less and less. I adjusted to the look of them in the mirror and I worked tireless on my self compassion practice. I continued my lose dose anti-anxiety/depression meds, I began meditating (as part of a clinical study), and I focused on my art. I also began to work out with more intensity, hoping to take some control back. Just like with the expanders, over time I began to accept my appearance and realize I would never look like the societal view of a normal woman again. Expecting that my reconstructed body would ever fit in that box, was unrealistic. As I began to accept this reality, the disappointment faded and I found happiness in the positive aspects of my surgery and my growing strength and confidence.

Now, I am 6 months out from surgery and while I still have some aspects of my breasts that need to be revised, the urgency has dissipated. I decided I want to take the summer to enjoy the sunshine and have some fun. I will have the next surgery in late August at which point they will remove extra skin from the inner corners, remove extra fat from the top left side (where my port was) and graft fat from my stomach to the front/bottom of my breasts to make the appearance more full and round. For now, I try to focus less on my imperfections and continue my work on self-acceptance.

I share my experience, because many people (doctors included) do not understand the emotional challenges associated with reconstruction. While many doctors try to help set realistic expectations for the physical appearance and recover, they fail to address the emotional adjustment period and how to cope with your reaction. Ninety percent of the women I have spoken to who underwent reconstruction are unhappy with the results initially. If I had known this going in, I may have been better prepared to cope with my sadness and disappointment.

With so many people comparing our reconstruction to an elective breast surgery, we internalize the pressure for the results to be perfect and for our bodies to be “fixed”. We forget that our bodies are a work in progress and we fail to give ourselves the time to be sad. It is a slow process adjusting to a new appearance and as breast cancer survivors, we have to go through this process multiple times. Each stage of reconstruction brings with it new challenges.

I have tried to change my focus work on rebuilding a loving relationship with my new bodies. Over time I trust that I will get there, and for now I celebrate my growth — each step of the way. I hope you will too. Take a moment to stop and look in the mirror and celebrate your body, imperfections and all. You are strong, you are resilient and you are beautiful.

If you have any questions about the implant exchange process, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. I would be glad to answer your questions or share more specifics about my experience. I will definitely follow up with more information about my fat grafting/revision experience after my surgery in August.

73 Comments

    Tish Z

    May 28, 2017Reply

    I’m am super nervous about getting implants. I am only 1/2 way through chemo and my right expander ( my prophylactic mastectomy) keeps getting infected with fluid build up. I may have to get it replaced. My sister isn’t happy with her implants, but she hasn’t gone back for any tweaking after the exchange 4 years ago. I think your finished implants look fabulous. You have given me hope. I was a 36 DDD before cancer. I’m glad I’m not the only one trying to get 750-800 cc implants. I just don’t think I’d be comfortable with smaller than that. Good luck! Thank you for sharing.

      Anna

      May 29, 2017Reply

      Good luck! I had many complications and set backs as well, but all you can do is keep on moving. One day at a time and soon you’ll be looking back at this day from a better place.

      Taj

      August 16, 2019Reply

      Thank you very much for sharing your story.

        Anna

        August 17, 2019Reply

        Thank you for the support. I am glad I could help in a small way.

    Stacy L

    May 29, 2017Reply

    Wow Anna, you always seem to be speaking right to me! I am starting my delayed reconstruction in less than 3 weeks and have been trying to imagine what it will be like. Thank you, again, for being so honest about your experience and wow, so smart and inspiring to wait and write about the past 6 months now.
    You are so beautiful inside and out, I am so sorry that you have been dealing with this for so long. I appreciate hearing how you’re doing now at 6 months out, because I am going to plan my wedding for approximately 6 months after the implant swap and it’s truly great to hear that, at this point, you are becoming more comfortable with yourself. I’m really looking forward to that day myself! Thank you for sharing! Have a great summer 🙂

      Anna

      May 29, 2017Reply

      I will be thinking about you. I hope all goes well and hopefully being prepared for the emotional battle will help your recovery.

    Jessie Bishop

    May 29, 2017Reply

    Great post Anna. You are beautiful! ❤️ I’m glad you’re starting to feel more comfortable. Time will continue to heal you.

      Anna

      May 29, 2017Reply

      Thank you for always being an awesome friend!

    Alana Ingersoll

    May 30, 2017Reply

    Why did your PS wait to do the fat grafting? Mine is doing it during it during initial reconstruction.

      Anna

      May 30, 2017Reply

      Many surgeons like to wait 4-6 months for the fat grafting to allow the initial surgery to heal and settle as to determine where fat grafting is needed.

    Jodi

    June 1, 2017Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. I had my implant exchange surgery (unilateral & lift on other side to match) in late March and I was initially pretty happy with how they looked. Now, just two months later, I’m having a little bit of a rough time with it (the appearance and how they feel). I hope I will feel better over time, as you say, and in my head I think I know that…But it’s not so easy.

      Anna

      June 1, 2017Reply

      I am so sorry you are having a rough time too. I know how hard it is. Hang in there, I think over the years it’ll get better and we’ll be able to feel happier with our bodies

    Mac

    June 10, 2017Reply

    You’re so beautiful inside and out baby. I love you so much and I’m so proud of you!

    The Hubby

      Anna

      June 19, 2017Reply

      Melt my heart xoxox

    Renee Christman

    August 8, 2017Reply

    Loved reading about your journey… You seem to be a lovely and we’ll rounded person! Thank you for sharing your journey. The good and the bad. I coined my journey “Frankenboobs”. The expanders are uncomfortable grimacing hockey pucks. I am three fills of 25cc from the maximum 400cc in each breast my plastic surgeon said my body can take. I am extremely nervous about the next step… afraid to go back to work..(I am a correction officer that works in a potentially dangerous environment.). Reading about others and their journey help make me feel less Frankenbooby!

      Anna

      August 9, 2017Reply

      I absolutely love your humor and I can see how you would be nervous to routine to work. I am sure once you get back to work though you’ll slowly feel more comfortable. Keep up your positive attitude and humor and this rough expander phase will soon be over!

        Karen Prystalski

        January 5, 2020Reply

        I appreciate you for sharing your experience! I vaguely recall my surgeon mentioning skin & fat grafting. I’m not a crazed Googler, but now want to know the %age of woman who were basically required to have grafting. I came across your wonderful site after searching the healing time-frame after DMX vs Exchange surgery. I understand recovery time varies from one person to another, but still curious among the general population.
        I love Renee Christman’s “Frankenboobs”. After noticing my lump, they became my “disabled girlfriends” (former special ed teacher & have kiddos w special needs). Thanks again Anna!🥰

          Anna

          January 8, 2020Reply

          I am so glad my experience could be helpful

        Marie Duffy

        February 1, 2023Reply

        Thank you so much for sharing I just had one mastectomy when I was due to have reconstruction I developed heart failure through the chemotherapy the cardiologist wouldn’t let me have reconstruction. I am 60 now and feel ready for reconstruction the breast surgeon said she doesn’t come into it, it’s when I feel ready. I’m due to see him 15th of this month so will find out more then. I’ve never been able to look at myself with just one breast I hate it so I just pray to Jesus to look after me. Love and strength to you Anna and all other sufferers of this disease. Do you have a podcast or anything like that Anna I would love to join. xxxx

          Anna

          February 1, 2023Reply

          Sending so much love and healing to you!

    Dana Judge

    February 1, 2018Reply

    I can’t thank you enough for so generously and candidly sharing your story. I’m having a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction in a week and a half and as I troll the web for insights, your story was truly useful. God bless you 🙂

      Anna

      February 2, 2018Reply

      I am so glad I could bring you some inspiration and hope.

    Kristy

    April 12, 2018Reply

    I just got home from my surgery a few hours ago. My expectations were low as the expanders were not even to begin with and my Dr told me there was more tissue on one side than the other and that was something he couldn’t adjust. The implants aren’t as large as I would have liked, 700cc (I was huge naturally so this is small for my body type) and I know once the dust settles they will be smaller. This is even harder to embrace due to everyone’s “yay! New big perky boobs!” comments (if they only knew) The only thing I know I can do is to work on me and lose the weight (a step that is overdue) but I haven’t had the mental stability to do so. I have a 2 yr old and a 5 yr old so taking care of me is exhausting.

      Anna

      April 12, 2018Reply

      I completely understand how you feel. I went through a lot of disappointment after my exchange surgeries as well. With time I promise the acceptance will get easier but it truly is a process.

    Nicki Baskin

    May 29, 2018Reply

    I just wanted to add to all of the nice comments a huge THANK YOU. An honest account and the pictures were brave and helped me so so much. And I hope this year is finding you in that happy place you are working so hard to get to.

      Anna

      May 30, 2018Reply

      You are SO kind and I truly appreciate your support!

    Annette

    June 30, 2018Reply

    Hello, I am so glad I found this website. I had a nipple sparing mastectomy in July of 2016 due to atypical lobular hyperplasia. I had drains in for 3 weeks. The tape burned my skin. I had reaction to antibiotics. The whole thing was so challenging. I had immediate reconstruction with implants. I had horrible rippling. My PS did fat grafting and inflated my saline implants more. I had no idea how painful liposuction was. Then, I developed a capsular contracture on the left and my right implant flipped causing the round part to protrude through my skin. It was very painful so I decided to have a revision of my reconstruction two weeks ago. Now after only two weeks, I have my implant pushing up my nipple again. I have disheartened and disappointed. I want to move on so bad and it seems I can’t get break. I don’t care about aesthetics honestly, I just want to be comfortable and healthy. Anyone out there having similar issues? Please share.

      Anna

      July 2, 2018Reply

      I am so sorry to hear this happened to you. I truly hope you find some peace and relief from your surgical struggles.

    Joy

    July 23, 2018Reply

    hi, thank you, I am 5 weeks post op from Diep flap reconstruction and I am really disappointed, I completely regret having reconstructive surgery. The pain and recovery were hell, the results are disgusting, as gross as the mastectomy but now all over the front of my body. Never again will I allow my husband to touch my body, it is repulsive. Support from people around has also been disgusting, I am so sick of people telling me how “lucky” I am to get a free boob job and tummy tuck??? WTF! I fight cancer, its part of my life now, and always will be, I was totally content with my body before cancer, in fact I rarely thought about it. My surgery was not a “free boob job” it was a transplant of my own tissue, 8 hours of surgery, 2 days in ICU, excruciating pain and now a body more mangled then before. Anyhow, thanks for letting me sound off, no one else will listen….

      Anna

      July 23, 2018Reply

      You are not alone. I completely understand your anger and frustration. I was very diappointed as well following my surgeries and reconstruction. I know the Diep flap can be even more intense. With time I hope you find love and compassion for the changes to your body.

      Windi Born

      July 9, 2019Reply

      I can’t believe I just found this. I have been so alone the past two years. I have been miserable everyday since my 8 hour surgery in February, 2017. I was also very content with my body before all of this chaos began. I just want to go back to my normal life. I’m tired of pain and the torture of feeling the tightness still.

        Anna

        July 10, 2019Reply

        I can totally understand. Cancer is the gift that keeps on giving and many feel life should just go back to normal. I am sorry you are experiencing such discomfort and I wish you the best.

      Ellen Bolinger

      April 29, 2020Reply

      I’m so sorry to hear this about the DIEP flap surgery. People tell me the same things about “free boob job”. Please don’t give up. I don’t know you but I feel your pain like it’s my own. Oh I just hope u see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep fighting bc you are worth fighting for especially when you are fighting for yourself. U have fought hard to get this far my encouragement to you is to never give up on yourself. You have strength inside of you that u don’t even know is there yet. Be strong, fight girl. You know u are worth it in the end. You have been beautiful all along.

        Anna

        May 18, 2020Reply

        What wonderful advice

    Melissa

    August 10, 2018Reply

    Thank you so much for your honesty and photos. About to have exchange surgery and trying to prepare for what is to come. These expander said are so large and uncomfortable but the unknown is scary. I really appreciate your candidness.

      Anna

      August 10, 2018Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment and taking the time to read why I’ve written. I’m so glad to know it helped in some way. I’ll be sending you so much love for your exchange

      Lisa

      May 19, 2020Reply

      I have expanders and currently 6 weeks post bilateral mastectomy. I have been filled a few times but do not recall the volume. I can share for me these expanders are so uncomfortable and I miss sleeping on my side but am looking forward to the exchange!

        Anna

        May 19, 2020Reply

        Hoping you get some relief soon. The expanders can be so uncomfortable though I did love how perky they were 🙂

        Joyce

        August 27, 2020Reply

        Hi Lisa, thank you for Sharing your experience as well. I will have mastectomy med September my plastic surgeon decided to have expander followed by reconstruction. I did a lot of research on it I’m in the situation right now if I really need a reconstruction or not. Can you tell having expander is really uncomfortable? Is there any pain? I hate foreign object on my body.

    Christi Aycock

    February 19, 2019Reply

    Thank you for documenting your process & helping us others better understand the process. I will have my surgery this Friday morning. My initial surgery was August 28, 2018 where I had a total abdominal hysterectomy & bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. I am BRCA2 positive. I am also wanting to be able to help other in their journeys when I can. Thank you again for your bravery & keeping the positive attitude through all life throws at us! God bless!!

      Anna

      February 19, 2019Reply

      I know you’ll be an amazing resource for other women!

        Erika

        March 16, 2019Reply

        So happy I read this. I’m on my 2nd reconstruction. My 1st TE develop infection. Now I’m 2 weeks after surgery. All looks good. Pain and discomfort to try to move and to sleep. Only 1 breast. Being a BC survivors all I want is to be normal and help my body look “normal”
        Thanks for sharing your experience. Now I will be more open about the finish results. I do t wants big boobs. Just look feminine:)
        God is good.
        Many blessings for all the ladies who are fighting with Breast cancer.

          Anna

          March 18, 2019Reply

          Sending you healing thoughts and support. I know those setbacks can be discouraging and I totally relate to your desire to look “normal”.

    Trudi Robson

    April 4, 2019Reply

    Thank you for this honest account, I’ve been feeling ashamed that I’m not happy with my reconstruction after mastectomy, my boob looks too large, miss-shapened, and alien to me. After reading your story and seeing your pictures has highlighted, we all have a story and we all need to go through the process, but we need to share our stories and be kind to ourselves.
    Thank you, and I wish you every happiness in your continued journey. xxx
    Trudi

      Anna

      April 6, 2019Reply

      That is so natural to feel! I’m
      So glad I could help in some small way

    Lisa M Ranieri

    June 19, 2019Reply

    Your blog has certainly helped me during a time of frustration. I gained so much insight and can now think about other options for reconstruction. I am about 2 years post skin & nipple sparing DMX with immediate reconstruction. No expanders, just implants the day of surgery. I have an anxiety disorder, so multiple surgeries were out of the question for me, as I am totally freaked out by anesthesia.
    So here I am now hating my reconstruction, even though every doctor, tech, ect I see say they look great. Mmmm okay, I don’t buy it. I was laying in bed last night googling options and found you! YAY! I am so glad you shared everything including pictures. It was very comforting to relate to all of your frustrations, fears, and hopes.

    I don’t know what I will do next, but I do know that something needs to change. I do not regret my decision to do what I did, now I just need to figure out the next step and finding your blog has been a big step in the right direction for me!

    Thank you so much,

    All the best to you!
    Lisa R
    Alexandria, Virginia

      Anna

      June 20, 2019Reply

      Thank you! It means so much to me to be able to help in this way!

    Christine McManus

    July 2, 2019Reply

    I found your blog while googling implant/reconstruction. I, too, have 750cc. They were exchanged on 5/30/19. One of my breasts has dropped nicely into the pocket and the other is still stuck way up on my chest! I called the PS (who is 3 hours away) and the nurse said this is “normal”. Maybe I’m being too impatient but there is about a 2 inch difference in height between the two. My PS did not give great recovery instructions. I have been wearing a tight sports bra since the surgery but now thinking it may be too tight. I have also been sleeping on my side which may be a no-no. Do you have any other suggestions? I’m going to continue to read your blog and see if you posted more about your post surgery expectations and suggestions. Thank you!

      Anna

      July 2, 2019Reply

      Hey there, I think that’s totally normal . Mine didn’t fully settle for 6 months so I’d say give it some more time then follow up with the PS

    Patti

    July 26, 2019Reply

    Thank you for writing about your experience. I am having my expander (one side) removed Weds. I found out yesterday that it is one of the ones recalled because it is tied to a rare cancer. I was not happy about that but at least it’s being removed. As a 3 time cancer survivor (Lymphoma, Lung and Breast) I am a high risk patient. This has been a painful experience and if i had it all over to do – I would not have had a reconstruction. But now i have to see this through to the end. I am trying to stay positive.

      Anna

      July 30, 2019Reply

      I can totally understand and relate to your frustration.

    Roxanne

    September 23, 2019Reply

    I’m 2 weeks out of a bilateral mastectomy with a latissimus dorsi flap from my back. I’ve been looking forward to the PS filling Up the expanders but am worried about pain since I’m in so much now. Also my PS said the biggest implants they use are 450cc! I was bigger than that before and it has me very worried…

      Anna

      September 23, 2019Reply

      Try to take it one day at a time.As they expand you’ll get a sense for how they look on your body. If you’re not pleased there are always more options though if would be more surgery. Sending you lots of healing and comfort

    Jennifer LaMontagne

    March 30, 2020Reply

    Thanks for the re-assurances about working to be ok with your body after reconstruction. I just completed a preventative double nipple sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction 3/5/2020. Due to high risk of family history; too many maternal relatives having diagnosis of cancer; too many surgical biopsies here I got lucky too many times; and all the testing which is what led me to the decision at 42. So yes I’m in recovery during this wonderful health crisis. Each night while changing bandages, I’m always asking my husband, “well how do they look?” His response “they look good for where you’re at in recovery. Be patient.” He’s always reassuring when I see my ugly stitches and wonder will my breasts get a little more normal. My doc is very optimistic even thru this health crisis. She’s honest and direct. I’m still getting used to taking naps; not being able to shower by myself; and not lifting heavy things. The worst part is logically I know things fade over time, its emotionally that’s not always the case. There are days I feel bad because I’m not on the front lines with my staff (I’m a social worker) but I know have to focus on myself to be healthy for my family ( husband
    And two young daughters) and I first. I’m thankful to see others such as yourself having the same feelings and emotions so that mine are not irrational. Thank you for sharing your journey.

      Anna

      March 30, 2020Reply

      Sending so much love. All you are experiencing is normal and expected.

    Devin Pilgrim

    May 18, 2020Reply

    Thank you for your story. I wasn’t sure what to expect with my upcoming implant swap. I was wondering if you have or are planning to get nipple reconstruction and if so what that entails?

      Anna

      May 18, 2020Reply

      I am not planning to do that. I researched it some and didn’t feel it was worth it for me. Some women find it very helpful though

        Pamela

        November 24, 2020Reply

        I had nipple reconstruction 15 -16 years ago and about 3 years after my reconstruction (I waited a bit to be sure) and had great results and also had them tattooed months later. Just a year ago I had to have my implants replaced, were 12 years old and usually they recommended time frame is about 10 years so it was overdue. . At that time I also decided to opt for the new 3D nipple tattooing because the previous regular tattoo ink had faded. And the results are so realistic. I was fortunate that my nipple reconstruction hadn’t flatten like many patients experience so the 3D look even more like my own nipples sans the sensation. Even without the nipple reconstruction this procedure look so amazingly real. I am very, very happy had the 3 D tattooing and the recovery time was minimal. I hope this will help anyone thinking about doing this nipple tattooing procedure. Be well and stay safe and hoping all great recovery from all procedures.

          Anna

          November 25, 2020Reply

          Thank you so much for sharing! I love having so many options for women to choose from.

    Martyna

    July 22, 2020Reply

    Your journey is actually very inspirational. I’m happy that you shared your experiences in such a honest way. It seems very helpful for other people here to. Please keep sharing.

      Anna

      July 22, 2020Reply

      Thank you so much for reading. I am glad I could help in some small way

    JRH

    July 28, 2020Reply

    Thank you SO much for sharing your story. I appreciate hearing about all your steps. Yes, I keep thinking the swap out will be “the final painful step” and then I will magically be transported into a slightly better version of me. Wow. What a helpful post. It really is a day by day journey. Thank you for making such a good difference.

      Anna

      July 28, 2020Reply

      Sending tons of love as you navigate your own journey

    LIZ

    August 5, 2020Reply

    Totally agree with your feelings. I had nipple sparing with expanders. I also had radiation and it ruined an expander so I had to have it replaced. The radiation pulled the breast up. Tight skin. I had exchange surgery 2 weeks ago with fat transfer. I expected better results. I’m up even higher and lopsided. Gotta wait a year to see results. It’s very depressing.

      Anna

      August 6, 2020Reply

      Ah I am sorry to hear that! Hang in there. It’s a mental and physical healing process. I am about to go in again soon for more reconstruction

      Joyce

      August 27, 2020Reply

      Hi Liz, I’m having reconstruction med September with expander followed by radiation. I have concern of the expander since I’m doing radiation after if there is any side effect of the expander. This time I’m still undecided. I need help.

        Anna

        August 27, 2020Reply

        Hi Liz, most ppl don’t have reactions to the expanders but there is always a chance of infection. In regard to your second comment yes they are uncomfortable. Most ppl describe them as very hard and immovable. I felt like concrete balls on my chest. The fills themselves can be painful for the muscle but for me the pain would subside after a few hours then it was just discomfort not pain. The longer I had the expanders, the more my skin stretched and the discomfort lessened.

    Monica

    March 28, 2021Reply

    Dear Ana,
    I Wendy Thru all this jurney a couple of years ago, and I didn’t finished my surgeries, could you send me your doctors email to contact them?
    Hope the best !

      Anna

      March 28, 2021Reply

      Hi there you can reach out to Dr. Damitz at UNC and Dr. Carlino at Specialists in Plastic Surgery.

    Jo

    June 19, 2021Reply

    Hi Anna, thank you for sharing your journey. I am so grateful I found this. I had my exchange surgery 3 weeks ago with fat grafting. Although I was prepared that the implants would not look as big and perky as the implants, I was still disappointed but not due to the size (came from A to C/D cup) but because they seem to be too far apart and I have no cleavage.
    I didn’t realize it’s normal to go back for revisions (are revisions normally covered by insurance?). Knowing this, I can embrace my new breasts for now and have comfort knowing that there’s still hope for improvement in the future.
    Another question, is it normal to feel tightness 3 weeks after exchange? The first 2 weeks I felt great as if I had my natural breasts back and no longer felt heavy and tightness on my chest but after the 2nd week the tightness (as if I had expanders back on but not as tight) came back.

      Anna

      June 28, 2021Reply

      You are definitely not alone. It’s so hard as our doctors don’t have the experience and know fully how to prepare us! Yes totally normal to feel the tightness! It will become more comfortable in time

    Angel

    September 1, 2022Reply

    Thank you Ana for your bravery and kindness. My PS kept pushing me to do the DIEP reconstruction and thought my skin was too thin for implants but I chose implants and so far my skin is fine after 3 fills at 325cc’s, so now I’m being rushed to schedule a date for the exchange surgery and I’m not done with the fills. The PS comes across as angry that he didn’t get his way and the nurse and nurse practitioner both said that I can get fills until I’m happy with my size. It just doesn’t make sense to commit to an exchange date when I’ve only had 3 fills and no discussion on what implants would be an option. Is this normal? Wondering if I should have a consultation asap with another PS.

      Anna

      February 1, 2023Reply

      OMG I am so so sorry. Please have a second consult. Your team shoudl be treating you with respect and you are the decision maker. Sending love.

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