Angela’s Corner: Expanding

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When I woke up from my bi-lateral mastectomies, I had little tiny bumps where my breasts use to sit. I was not a large size prior to my surgery, sitting between an A and B cup, so I was not shaken to see those little bumps. One beneficial aspect of doing simultaneous mastectomies and expander reconstruction was knowing that I still had breasts. I would not be experiencing the disappointment of losing my breasts.

Approximately every three weeks, I made the trip to Seattle to expand my implanted breast expanders. If you are unfamiliar with the technique, let me briefly explain. The expanders are similar to implants; however, they are smaller and more crescent shaped, quite hard, and performs the function of expanding the chest muscles and breast skin to the desired size. Each implant has a resealable section where you insert a needle to expand using a saline solution. Every trip to Seattle resulted in 50 cc’s of saline in each breast.

With my mastectomies came the side effect of numbness. The doctor simply inserted the needle where needed without numbing gel, injected the saline as we watched the breast increase in size. I fondly called these my fill-up days. Like going to a gas station to fill up your car, I was going to the doctor to fill up my breasts. I made numerous trips to see my plastic surgeon to get “filled up,” and to discuss my healing, my treatment, and our next steps. It took me five full months to get to where I wanted to be size-wise. One day I just decided this isn’t a bad size to be. Slightly larger than where I was before, but not too large that I wouldn’t know what to do with them. Besides, being a smaller size naturally didn’t leave much space to gain unnaturally – my skin just wouldn’t be able to stretch much further.

Surgery to replace the expanders with implants would be scheduled for the end of March, just prior to the start of Spring Break. This would be my third, and hopefully final, surgery to bring this mastectomy and reconstruction journey to an end. Of course, there would be check-ups for months, but knowing that there was an end in sight came with a great relief.

Learn more about Angela’s battle against breast cancer.
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