What Kind of Breasts Do You Want?
My oncology surgeon just does the breast deconstruction. I need another surgeon to do the breast reconstruction. She gave me two referrals: one who is (1) male, (2) in Portland, (3) very experienced, and (4) busy, or one who is (1) female, (2) in Vancouver, (3) is not as experienced but fresh out of a fellowship back east and knows all the hip new tricks, and (4) probably more easily booked. I chose to start with the Vancouver female.
January 31, 2019. Dr. Female started by saying, “So you’ve chosen to have an implant reconstruction.” I didn’t know I had chosen that. I knew that there were two basic reconstruction options. One was getting the mastectomy, waiting for some healing to take place, then pushing the newly sewn-up skin to grow enough to fit an implant by slowly inflating a balloon-type insert under the skin for a few weeks, then having a final surgery where the implant is, well, implanted. A second reconstruction method involved harvesting fat and skin from one’s belly and moving them into the chest area and fashioning it into a breast of sorts. It is known as “flap” surgery because they consider it a “flap” of skin and tissue. Gross. Let’s not even go into nipple reconstruction. That’s a whole other thing. This is making me exhausted and a little woozy.
It turns out that implant surgery is the only thing Dr. Female does. She did give me some good advice on the pros and cons of each type. Even though she does not perform the “flap” type of surgery, she told me that although it is considered a much longer and more complicated surgery and requires a longer hospital stay, the final results can appear and feel more natural, as they are your own tissue. And as the “flap” is autologous tissue, you do not have the risk of your body reacting badly to the alien implant and producing the hard scar tissue that sometimes happens in implant surgery. Of course the ideal candidate will have some belly fat to spare, but that just means you end up with a little tummy tuck in the bargain. The advantages to implant surgery are that the surgeries are less complicated and you can choose your new “look.” If you are interested in coming out of this business with more or less headlight wattage than when you started (or, if you just don’t have the belly or butt fat to spare), implants are the way to go. She can give you a nice big implant and make the other boob match. She made some measurements and took some photos of my chest (still quite rainbow colored).
If I had had my choice of boob styles twenty years ago, I might have gone for some real head-turners, but now, on the downhill side of my 50s, I didn’t need more. I might even be happier with less. I like the idea of less belly and no implants. That means I would have to say goodbye to Dr. Female and start over with the Portland guy. This is hard and uncomfortable, but it would be ridiculous to get a second-choice surgery just because it was easier not to go to more doctor’s appointments. Although I admit that I did consider it.
This Is Not Dignified
Later That Same Day. Next stop: the MRI machine. If you are wondering how to get good images of boobs in an MRI machine – after all, aren’t boobs going to nestle squishily on top of one’s chest as one lies on the table? Then you’re not thinking outside the box, er, tube. What if we have the ladies lay on their stomach and let their boobs hang down in, like, boob holes? You’re a genius, Steve!
The MRI experience was unremarkable save for the part where I had to mount the rack on my hands and knees and lower my boobs down into the square holes on either side of a one-inch bar on which I was to rest my sternum. There was no dignified way to make that move. My lame jokes fell flat (so to speak) in the room. Check that off my list.
The next day I arranged to meet a new doctor. This is the busy one so I have to make an appointment a week and a half away. Ah, well. I’m in no hurry to lose a body part and have a facsimile made out of spare parts. I just don’t want friends to keep seeing me around and finally say, “Weren’t you supposed to have breast cancer?...”
More to come after tomorrow’s doctor visit…