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Tissue Expanders Out, Implants In

Usually I don’t post updates right away following my own appointments or procedures. Generally, I  prefer to write retrospectively; I seem to have better insights further out from such things. And photos, forget about it. However, for some reason, I decided to change things up today and let everyone know how my surgery went last week, as well as my thoughts and reactions to it. I even went ahead with the photo, such as it is.

Since the exchange, as my plastic surgeon likes to call it, (tissue expanders out – implants in) I haven’t actually talked to him yet, that happens this week at my followup appointment. He did speak with Dear Hubby while I was recovering and told him things went great. David reported that he had a big smile on his face. It’s always good when your doctor comes out of the operating room smiling. He even tried out some new procedure for inserting implants. He was so pleased about that aspect, it will now be his normal way of doing it. So, I guess I made some kind of contribution to improving his plastic surgery techniques.

Before heading into the OR, I met with my surgeon and had a few of my fears erased, or at least addressed. (It’s never too late for that.) While speaking with him one more time about the proper implant size for me, he mentioned his team would be sitting me up while I was on the operating table to help them decide what size implant would look best. These things are difficult to determine in a reclining position. Knowing I would be literally sized up this way while being “out” was a bit unnerving, but proper size and symmetry are important matters. It’s probably better I was unable to hear that conversation.

After about a two-hour procedure, which also included the removal of my chemo port by my other surgeon (hurray!), I spent another hour or so in recovery and another half hour back in the Pre/Post OP room where we started off the morning. By one o’clock we were sent on our way along with ice packs, discharge directions and phone numbers in hand. It seemed pretty amazing to have surgery in the morning and head home the same afternoon. Once home, I headed straight for the blue leather sofa that has become a sanctuary over the past six months. It’s just an old piece of furniture, but it represents a safe haven to me now. I love that old, blue leather sofa.

Luckily, I’ve had little pain this time. Compared to my mastectomy last June, this feels like a piece of cake. Well, not quite, but it was definitely an easier surgery. I will need to sleep on my back for the time being anyway, but I’ve become pretty used to this position since tissue expanders. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to sleep on my stomach again. Thinking about giving up my favorite sleeping position for good makes me sad, but I can’t think about that now.

Sleeping on your back is  supposedly good for wrinkle prevention, so there’s that. You don’t wake up with “dents” on your face from your pillow. While growing up, I always spent part of the summer visiting my grandparents in North Dakota. I remember my grandma often took a nap and when she got up, her face looked squished and wrinkled in places. At the time, I rudely stared, unable to comprehend the reason for those dents. Now I get it. I read an article about Michelle Phieffer once in a women’s magazine where she stated she always sleeps on her back for this exact reason – to prevent wrinkles. It seems to work for her. So maybe I’ll keep sleeping on my back after all.

I am most certainly happy to be done with yet another step of this cancer shitstorm. I still have more steps ahead. I still have more surgeries. I still have more worries, some of which I don’t even know about yet. But I am moving forward, slowly at times, but forward.

Do you have implants or do you know someone who does? Are you (or are they) happy with them?

What is your favorite sleeping position?

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20 thoughts to “Tissue Expanders Out, Implants In”

  1. Best wishes for a speedy recovery Nancy ! I like to sleep on my side normally, but chest is bothering me right now, so I can now usually be found sleeping on my back snoring my head off….actually that would now be the three of us, me, hubby and dog, flat on our backs snoring. What a sight !

  2. My friend got implants (by choice), and then she got pregnant with the year, so that was pointless really, haha!

    I sleep on my side all curled up with a pillow between my knees. I can’t sleep on my stomach or I end up feeling sick for some reason; it has been like that for as long as I can remember. And sleeping on my back just feels uncomfortable. Bring on the wrinkles I suppose, I’m a side sleeper forever! (Unless I have a sudden change of heart once I’m out of my 20s… haha)

  3. Glad you are doing well. Good for you for posting a picture!

    I can’t sleep well on my back. I think I’ll keep sleeping on my side so I can get enough sleep. Sleep prevents wrinkles, too. 🙂

    1. Lindsay, I never was one who could sleep on my back either, but since surgery last summer I’ve had to adjust. Guess that’s another reason I’m always so tired! You are so right, sleep, in any position, prevents wrinkles! At least some of them!

  4. Nancy, I’m so happy you posted. I was wondering how you were doing. I had the same surgery and also found it a lot easier than the mastectomy. That was a rough one.

    As for the implants. I was initially thrilled that my surgeon could create something that looked so natural, just amazed. I expected it to look a little like a boob job, but it really didn’t. However, my right side eventually hung a little looser than the left, it didn’t look great and I swore I felt it under my arm. Talk about annoying. Had them redone about two months ago and I couldn’t be happier. My surgeon just tightened and lifted the same implants. I think they look great. A much younger version of myself.

    As you know, on to nipples and tattoos… maybe. You go first and let me know how it turns out!

    1. Stacey, Thanks for thinking about me! I didn’t realize we can fine tune the implants, that’s a good thing to know. I’m glad to hear you are happy with yours. Hopefully I will be as well. Maybe you should go first on the nipples and tattoos..ha!

  5. Nancy, you make it sound like a ‘Walk in the park’ although I feel sure it was not that simple. I am so happy for you.
    I have changed sleeping positions and have had Haydn change his to accommodate me. Thankfully nothing, except severe pain, gets in the way of a good night’s sleep.
    Thinking of you as you make a full recovery.

    1. Chez, I wouldn’t call it a “walk in the park,” but it was definitely easier than the bilateral. Thank you for your good wishes. I’m sorry you have so much severe pain, does it keep you awake? I hope not.

  6. Nancy,
    So glad this part is behind you. This part of my surgery was a piece of cake, but then what isn’t compared to DEIP Flap? Yikes!! My doctor calls them “revisions,” but anything that means another surgery isn’t what we want to hear.

    After my surgery, I started holding my shoulder in a position that ultimately became painful. When my surgeon gave me the go ahead, I started having deep tissue massages to get rid of the knots back there and relieve the pain. Unfortunately, that caused my implant to slip half way between where it should have been and my navel… Yep! You guessed it! Another “revision,” breast cancer surgery #9, to put the implant back where it belonged, so you might want to go easy on laying on your stomach for a while.


    1. Brenda, I’m glad this part is behind me as well. I guess you’re right, I better avoid sleeping on my stomach for a while. I have not heard of them slipping that much out of place! What an annoyance that must have been. Are you happy with how things ultimately turned out? Thanks for sharing your experience, Brenda.

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