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Mastectomy, Scar Revision, Breast Reconstruction and Stem Cell possibilities

Hi, I'm PopArt

Hello, I recently had a total mastectomy and 13 lymph nodes removed and there wasn’t any cancer. That is pretty amazing as I was stage IIIc. I had 5 aggressive double doses of chemo. My MRI came out no cancer. I had the recommended surgery to be 100% sure I had no cancer. I am happy to say, nothing they took or left shows any signs of cancer! Losing a breast is much more traumatic than I had anticipated.

It’s been 3 wks since my surgery and I had my drainage bottle removed 5 days ago. I am not happy with the way I was cut or stitched up. It looks like he gathered it up and aimed all the stitching towards my armpit. Now I have a ball about the size of an orange growing underneath my arm. It actually looks like I am growing a breast under my arm. This is very red, very painful and drastically challenging to get dressed. I asked him this past Tuesday about doing a scar revision, he sd the plastic surgeon will take care of it. However, I have not seen a PS yet and he has not referred me to one either.

I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about reconstruction and ideally I would like to have the stem cell transplant. But I am not sure if it is available in SC, USA. I would entertain being in a trial if that is what it would take to get what I want, but I also would love to hear from everyone that has had breast reconstruction and if you can tell me what your surgery name was, what they did and how you feel about the results and would you do it over again if you knew what you now know? Also, how many surgeries did you have to have in all after the mastectomy?

I should mention that I have quite a bit of excess skin and may not need expanders (not sure) but the way my scar is, there are serious dips downward and it is not flat and smooth, plus the underarm area; which I described above. It does seem like all the drs I have talked to seem to be in a hurry, and do not seem to care about my pain and personal satisfaction about how my body looks. I know it saved my life and I am thankful for that.

Any comments and recommendations will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
PopArt :)

  • Post #1
  • Sat Aug 31, 2013
Hi, I'm Lydia
I had a left breast total mastectomy, and did not choose reconstruction. I just wanted to let you know, I am not happy about the way my scar looks, either. It has this weird point at the end, the end close to my right breast. I had eight lymph nodes removed, and though mine doesn’t look as bad as you described under the armpit, it also is tight to the chest wall, until a point where it is all loose and looks awful. I know it must be hard for the surgeons to have it look OK, but when I asked my surgeon what she was going to do about the point, she became very defensive. Maybe I’m asking too much, but I thought if I had to have a scar, at least it would just be a flat, regular-looking scar! Good luck with your surgeries!
  • Post #2
  • Sun Sep 1, 2013
Hi, I'm Cheryl L F.

I had a bilateral mastectomy in 10/12. Tissue expanders were put in at the same time. I did not require chemo, but did get radiation on the right breast/node area. Less than 2 months ago, I had my reconstruction. Silicone implants with a latissimus dorsi flap on the right side (because of radiation). I am very happy with the results and recovery time. Both breasts/scars look pretty darn good. They are not identical, but very close and they look the same when I am dressed. The LD flap breast feels very natural while the left implant does not. If I did it all over again (knowing what I know now),I might have opted for the LD flap on both sides. It is SO important to research your breast surgeons and plastic surgeons. Check credentials carefully. Good luck to you!

  • Post #3
  • Sat Sep 7, 2013
Hi, I'm Dawn A.

Hi, I had a right mastectomy without reconstruction May 2013. I just finished PT so I have good range of motion and strength however my chest area and under arm area hurt. I also have pinching and tenderness (I guess from lymph nodes removed). My scar is flat but it is red and sometimes warm which worries me. It looks puckered and feels tight. I think you are right the surgeons are not that concerned after surgery. I am hoping for less pain and improvement in the months ahead.

  • Post #4
  • Sat Sep 7, 2013
Hi, I'm Lynnette W.

I had a right mastectomy in Jan 2006 with reconstruction with the LD flap. I also had what I considered a large lump under my arm and my surgeon seemed unconcerned. I realize his point was to save my life from cancer, but still…. I then shopped around for another surgeon, who when back thru my original scar and did lipo to remove the bulge. Now my reconstruction and scars don’t look as bad as some of the pictures I have seen — but my husband is turned off by how I look. Or maybe it the menopause thing caused by the chemo… But anyway, you need to find another doctor. Talk to other breast cancer survivors in your area and see who has one that they like.

  • Post #5
  • Sun Sep 8, 2013
Hi, I'm PopArt

Thank you all for your replies. I really appreciate the info. It has been 5 weeks, the surgeon says he expects to release me on 9/24 and refer me to Plastic Surgeon. The lump under my arm has been drained and has gone down somewhat, but still there.

Lydia, you mentioned an area that comes to a point, I have that near my arm pit. Every form I have tried so far seems to sit higher up because of that point; than my left breast. So it is impossible to make them look anywhere near even or natural.

The surgeon I went with was the only one that had more than one recommendation among my BC group. He had been doing this for 23 years. It is so lumpy and bumpy, I do not see how it will ever look right.

On the LD flap surgery how many operations from start to finish? Do they put the implants in at the same time as that or was that something different? I had thought the silicone or saline implant was only one surgery and the flap surgeries were several. Let me know.

Best wishes of good health for all of us.
Thank you.

  • Post #6
  • Thu Sep 12, 2013
Hi, I'm Lynnette W.

I had the LD flap surgery when I had my mastectomy and they put in an expander that saline was added to several times, then I had day-surgery to change the expander for a silicone gummy implant. Also they did a “lift” on my other breast to make it me more even.

  • Post #7
  • Sat Sep 14, 2013
Hi, I'm Jane T H.

I had a bilateral in 2011, chemo for 8 months and radiation on my right side. I did not have any reconstruction. My scars were uneven, with bumps, dips, and what I call dog ears under my armpits. It has been 2 plus years and my chest has changed over time. Skin has become more tight, smoother and the dog ears are not as floppy so to speak! Skin is elastic and it takes time to even out. I do have some blotchy areas on the radiation side and that side is tighter and firmer than the other. I never considered reconstruction. Friends that did, have not been happy and wouldn’t do it over. I too have wondered about plastic surgery for the scars, but I would rather use my time living life than going through more surgery. I enjoy not ever wearing a bra again and dealing with breasts. Give it all time . . . .

  • Post #8
  • Sat Sep 14, 2013
Hi, I'm Nancy S M.

I had a bilateral mastectomy in Nov. 2012. My plastic surgeon did a wonderful job. My scars are barely noticeable. I have my expanders in now and am awaiting for my final reconstruction in Nov. 2013. If anyone can give me any feedback on having permanent gel implants versus the DIEP flap it would be much appreciated.

  • Post #9
  • Mon Sep 23, 2013
Hi, I'm Mrsfoxycoxy

Hello ladies, I had a bilateral mastectomy after neoadjuvant chemo for grade 3 breast cancer in the right breast and 8 lymph nodes removed (all clear). I wanted the DIEP flap as this was considered to be the Rolls Royce/gold standard. I didn’t like the idea of foreign objects for breasts but unfortunately I wasn’t a suitable candidate for the DIEP flap. The other options were the LD flap previously mentioned but at the time I enjoyed kayaking and didn’t want this. I had to make friends with the implants and started on the journey of having expanders with saline injections and rest periods. After a couple of hiccups I am having my final implant exchange on Monday 30th September 2013 – two years down the line!!!! Of course my scars aren’t pretty and I have lumps, bumps and dips and lack feeling but so long as I look ‘normal in clothes’ I will be happy. I do get sad that I couldn’t have the DIEP flap as this would have been done and dusted a long time ago. I have had three friends who have had the DIEP flap and whilst 3 were thrilled with their ops, 1 of them has developed an obsession with seeking the perfect breasts and despite them looking fabulous (better than mine) and all her own tissue, she isn’t happy. I think we all have to be happy that we are cancer free for now, alive and getting stronger every day. All the best to you all xx

  • Post #10
  • Sat Sep 28, 2013

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