It’s a slow, slow process, filling out the boob.
Now, keep in mind that what’s left is pretty much a double flap of boob skin left( with a scar up the middle holding it together) after the doctor took out the muscle, fat, milk glands and, of course, the cancer.
A short recap…….Into the middle, and underneath the muscle of where my left boob used to be, a tissue expander is quietly (and painfully) waiting for something to fill it up. Eventually it will equal the other boob in size and relative shape. In the meantime, muscle relaxers keep the pain down and help the muscle to adjust to growing a little bigger.
This is the second time the doctor has done this.
At each visit, the first thing the doctor does is use a magnet to find the hole in the expander where the needle can go in. It’s a fairly simple procedure; place magnet on skin and move it around until you find the metal.
Talk about a very weird feeling! Even without nerve endings, you can still feel “something” happening.
With the push of a button on the top of the magnet, it leaves an “X” on the skin where the its found the permeable hole.
The next step is cleaning the skin with a sterile solution that turns the skin yellow. You can’t feel it because you have no nerves left in your boob, and that’s just bizarre all by itself.
He, then, inserts the needle into the middle of the “X” and begins injecting the solution into the expander. It’s a relatively slow process but, when it’s done, you can see the difference in the way the skin looks. It’s closer to looking like a real boob instead of being flat and lumpy.
It’s 100 cc’s per weekly visit and I have roughly 4 more weekly fill ups to go……providing I don’t need extensive chemo or radiation. That little detail will be decided on Tuesday by the oncologist and it will mandate if the fill ups take longer or can be kept to the same schedule.
It’s a pretty painless procedure, when you get right down to it. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and that includes undressing for the fill up and dressing to go home.
With a little luck, and a good plastic surgeon like the one I have, I’ll go through the next surgery to reconstruct the breast sometime in the middle to late summer. And, in the end, I’ll have a new boob and my sweaters won’t look strange any more.