Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Breast Reconstruction (Warning Graphic Images)

The mastectomy surgery in March was a success, with a clean line and no cancer cells, so reconstructing a new breast was the next step.  I chose to do a DIEP Flap procedure by the only doctor that does it in the upstate of South Carolina, Dr. Orseck with Magnolia Plastic Surgery.  The surgery consisted of a transplant of fat and skin from my abdomen with tummy tuck, then reconstructed to make a breast, rib-resection, and microsurgery of my blood vessels and veins to reestablish blood supply to the breast.  Needless to say, it's a MAJOR surgery with many components.  It requires a lot of skill, experience and artistry.

My father and stepmother even came down from Virginia to stay with me to help with the surgery and recovery. I went in early yesterday morning, anxious and excited....

I was all puffed up from the hose blowing cold air into the gown

Lots of identifiers.  They even added another one after surgery
Surgery lasted less than six hours, and I was in recovery for about four hours.  Afterwards, I seemed to being doing well enough that I didn't need to go to ICU as they had planned.

Doing my beauty queen wave

I spent the next several hours being nauseated by narcotic pain killers.

I took a short nap, and woke up to find my friend Shanna trying to "help" me.

I slept on and off all night, and had person after person come in the room for anything and everything.  By morning, I realized I hadn't had any pain medicine since 10pm, so I started taking only Tylenol to avoid the nausea.  It's definitely painful, but I prefer that to nausea.

Once they took the catheter out, I was determined to get up and walk.  I made it around "the block" to start.  I was surprised that I was able to stand up straighter than I expected, considering the tummy tuck procedure.

Lap around the block with my nurse Johnette

The tummy tuck incision with new belly button under the little square

After a little bit of rest, I was able to take a shower, eat lunch, and make a couple more laps around the block.  


You KNOW I gotta wear my Wonder Woman socks

This machine measures the oxygen saturation through my new breast. When I first got out of surgery, it was around 52%. The more I get up and around, the higher the number goes. I was talking with the nurse, and she said it never gets to 100% (that she knows). I asked what the average was, and she said that last week, a woman had around 45%. I asked what the highest she ever saw was, and she said, "Yours!" I'm thrilled!!

I'm doing so well that the doctor is considering letting me go home by Thursday evening.  I should get the drains out next week.  And I'll follow up with the doctor in a couple weeks to see my progress.  For now, I am restless and trying to manage pain.  

Now......  here are the before and after pictures..... If you are squeamish, you may not want to look.  But if you are considering this procedure, this may be helpful.  

Three weeks after mastectomy

The drawings before surgery

Now, the following photo is of the new breast.  Although it seems to be very "scary" at the moment, the doctor and I are very excited and pleased with the results.  The scars will fade, the breast will lower some over time, and in about three months, we'll probably add more fat to the breast to match the other.  And like I said in a previous post, the goal is to tattoo a design on the breast instead of trying to make it look "real".

The new breast

This next step is almost complete, and I am trying to heal as quickly as possible to get back to my kids.  And I am so thankful for all the love, support, prayers and good thoughts.  You have no idea how much it helps me through! 


  1. Your definitely a wonder women and a big inspiration!!!! You ought to have a book published or a movie made about what you have been through, it would help so many others just as your own chronicles have done already : )

  2. You continue to be, a remarkably beautiful person

  3. Wondrous amazing beautiful woman!

  4. Way to go Ann. Can't wait for you to get back to the store. We all miss you and love you. As I have said many times, you are an INSPIRATION.

  5. My friend was just diagnosed yesterday with breast cancer. I am reading this to learn and understanf more about the journey she is about to take. Your story is lovely. So brave. Thank-you for this blog.

  6. The surgery takes a few hours to complete and this type of mammaplasty eases the physical uneasiness & discomfort connected with excessively large bosoms.Scamp