Recycled Boobs

Today I’m going to answer the question that everyone wants to know but is afraid to ask. Don’t think I don’t know you’re curious! I see the looks! I hear the hesitancy in voices when they broach the subject of breast cancer. Everyone is curious but they’re afraid to ask lest they upset me – are these brand new little babies real or are they Memorex? And the answer…..drum roll please….. is neither! They’re RECYCLED!

Ha! Fooled you didn’t I? Not quite the answer you were expecting, was it? My new boobs are as real as they get, guaranteed to be 100% all natural ingredients home-grown right here in the great state of Texas. When it comes to going green, we know how to make it happen! After all, I’m from a long line of farmers and ranchers and we were concerned about recycling a LONG time before the environmentalists jumped on our bandwagon.

How can this be? Recycled boobs? Really? Yes! Absolutely! Recycled boobs!
Believe it or not, breast cancer isn’t a one-size fits all disease and depending on the size of the little beasty invading your body, women may have several options available to them when it comes to the surgical side of breast cancer treatment. Two of my girlfriends were able to opt for lumpectomies. That wasn’t an option for me and I knew I was facing a double mastectomy. I wanted reconstruction but wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of implants. After talking to several women and a couple of surgeons, I finally settled on a procedure called a diep flap.

While not as common as some breast reconstruction procedures, diep flaps are becoming more popular. Many women (like me) want breast mounds but aren’t too thrilled at the prospect of implants. Without going into all the details, a diep flap procedure is essentially a tummy tuck where the fat is used to rebuild the breast mounds and the extra skin is used for the skin grafts on the breast.

Diep flaps are long procedures. In my case, I was in the OR for about 9 hours. First, my general surgeon came in and performed the actual mastectomy and removed the offending breast tissue. I don’t know if it’s the same for every woman but I’m pretty small busted and the only scarring I have on the breasts are round circles where the nipples used to be. The scar reminds me a great deal of the round cookie cutter my grandmother used to use when making biscuits. I have visions of Dr. Markus with a big cookie cutter press and doing a push and twist in one motion to make the cut!

Once the actual mastectomy was over, my plastic surgeon and his surgical staff arrived liked tactical strike team and got down to some serious rebuilding. An incision was made across my lower abdomen from hip bone to hip bone. Tissue from this area was used to rebuild the breast mound. New blood vessels were grafted into the breast mound so this transplanted fat will take root and “grow” (without blood supply, the transplanted fat would reabsorb into the body). Extra skin from the stomach was grafted onto the breast mound in the round cookie cutter incision.

No abdominal muscle is removed in a diep flap but the first time I got up it was an experience! The hospital had a great physical therapist that came around each day to teach me how to get up and down and maneuver on my own. I felt pretty comfortable by the time I went home that I would be able to manage. I borrowed a walker and used it quite a bit the first week I was at home. It helped quite a bit with getting up and down that first couple of days.

I did come home with drain tubes – both in the hips and the breasts. A friend gave me a terry cloth belt that had pouches built in to keep the drain tubes organized. Also, Cheri Mathews – a 12-year breast cancer survivor – makes a great shirt with pockets built in specifically designed for breast cancer recovery patients. (See more about her products at http://www.healincomfort.com/).

A lot of people ask me if it hurt. Well, duh! I just had some really intense surgery and there was some pain involved. But, I can honestly say that I was really surprised by how little pain I felt. I thought it would be pretty terrible but my breasts had almost no pain at all and what little pain I had was easily controlled by the meds they sent me home with. I was given some type of injection in the area of the stomach incision which lasted about three days. By then, I was up walking and moving around. I think I quit taking pain meds at home within a few days except at night.

The end result of all this? A flatter stomach and very natural looking breasts! The diep flap was a lot of up front work but I’m really pleased with the end result. I woke up with breast mounds which really important to me and didn’t have to deal with expanders for implants. This worked!

So, now you know. My breasts are the ultimate in going green and recycling. One hundred percent guaranteed recycled material!

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If you know someone facing a mastectomy and they want more info on the diep flap procedure, visit Dr. Ned Snyder’s Breast and Body Center of Austin for more information.

© 2014. Mary Kyle. All rights reserved.

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