Category Archives: Nipple Reconstruction


Remember how I’ve debated whether to get the nipples added to my breast or not, and I finally decided I was going to do it? Well I did go through with it a month or so ago and I almost had a heart attack after I did it. I chatted more than I should have through this little surgery when I had really wanted to watch. So when Dr. D was done, as usual….he gives me instructions while I’m digesting the fact that my new nipples look like a bacon wrapped appetizer that you’d serve at a New Years Eve party. Now I’m not trying to say he did a bad job….it just wasn’t what I expected. So I nod my head as if I’m listening to how to care for my appetizer looking nipples and all I can think is “for the love of God…why did I do this!” I’m pretty sure he makes those quick exits on purpose and the nurse is left to clean up, including convincing me “they WILL look good.” of course I didn’t believe her but nodded and got dressed and left to head home.
Three days later I can’t wait to see what they look like. So I take off the bandages because I need to know of my nipple still resembles a new years eve snack…..
To be continued tomorrow….


The Finale

You know on fourth of July when you watch fireworks and at the very end they put off a bunch at the same time. But you keep waiting and waiting for that finale, and they keep teasing you, and you keep thinking it’s the end and it’s not. Well that is probably a good way to describe my reconstructions. I keep acting like I’m done and I’m not. I keep saying one more, and it’s not. But I truly am at the end now. In two days I see my dear plastic surgeon for the last time for him to give me nipples. Yes, nipples. There is something very strange about writing about nipples. I’m comfortable writing breast, not quite so with nipples.
But I’ve decided to do it. I’m saying goodbye to the Barbie Boobs and hoping they really do look realistic with nipples.
And really….the last finale will be getting the nipple tattoo’d. I promise.
Wish me luck:)

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Most women are pretty critical of their bodies.  We complain about our hips or our nose or our saggy breasts.  Then someone goes to take our breasts away and we cry and scream in our pillows for the flawed breasts we once had.  I wish I was the woman who said “good-riddance” and never looked back, but I’m not.  I still cry for my saggy, imperfect mammary glands that seemed so flawed at one time and now seem as majestic as the seven wonders of the world (minus the cancer that then overcame them).

But since I can’t have my God-made wonders back, I am going to settle for man-made.  I have to, what other option do I have other than nothing? 

The creator of my man-made wonders, my ever so kind plastic surgeon sat with me as I complained yesterday.  Which I feel a bit bad about now since these are his creations.  But he took it all well.  We revisited the fact that I had inflammatory breast cancer, which in the end caused him to tell me that he would not do fat transfer on me.  I’m still coming to terms with this since I really (really!) like the idea of moving fat from somewhere else to fill in the new breasts and their flaws and the indentation caused by digger.  But he won’t.  He was nice about it, and he gave a pretty good reason and that is, because I’ve had IBC, if I did have a reccurence it would probably effect my skin, and having extra fat in that area would cause necrosis.  Which would mean more “digger” type issues….and Lord knows I don’t want another digger!

So my option is small implants.  This would fill out the flaws and the indentations and make me just a tad bigger.  It would also help pancake resemble righty.  I really don’t want to be much bigger, but he said in perportion to my size, a little bit bigger would be good.  Plus I have lost some weight since the surgery and I think I lost some in my breasts as well.

You’all know I have not wanted implants.  This option is not all that exciting for me.  He looked me in the eye and vowed that saline implants were safe.  He answered the question we all have….”would you recommend this to any female in your family” and the answer was yes.

We agreed I would sit on this for a while.  I’m not in any hurry to make this decision and since digger only finally, completely closed about a week ago, I should wait.  So I think it could be several months before I make a final decision regarding the implant option. 

He showed me more pictures because I am a little sad about how the scars look.  I told him my fears about having the nipples put on and how I just am pretty sad with my lumpy, scar-y, breasts.  I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever adjust to the new ones and the new look.  I’ve tried sunless tanning and pretty bras, but nothing seems to make me feel better about them.  They’re just not my old ones and I still have a hard time with that.  Can anyone relate to this?

He was very nice to me once again.  Who knew plastic surgeons also had to be psychiatrists.  He seemed pretty confident that I would eventually adjust.  And I had no idea this fix-up deal would be such a long process.  I’m really glad he had me look at more pictures, and I took special note of how long it was from before to after.  Several of them were two years later and the scaring was significantly lighter.  He even showed me one that had a DIEP and then implants and I have to say she looked pretty good.

So I have some decisions to make.  There’s no hurry.  There’s no cancer.  There’s just me adjusting to something new once again and deciding how and when to proceed.

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CAUTION004Warning:  Discussion of breast re-CONSTRUCTION ahead, with frequent use of the word nipple….lol…so proceed with caution! 

My mom told me that recently Meleah asked her if she had the little “round things on her nana’s.”  That seems like an appropriate question considering that her mama does not have “little round things.”   We’ve always been very open with our kids along the way about breast cancer.   My breasts are a regular topic of discussion in our home.  I’m not sure what we would have done 20 years ago when people didn’t openly talk about breast cancer.

Last week I started looking in to what it would entail for me to have “little round things” on my breasts.   This is considered the second phase of reconstruction.  Shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer I  learned the details of nipple reconstruction.  How amazed I was with technology and creativity!  Here’s what they do.  There’s a couple different ways they can form a nipple.  They will either take a patch of skin from somewhere else and kink it up and sew it on, or they’ll just use the skin that’s there already and kink it up.  I will have the later if I decide to do it.  Then the third phase is tattooing.  Yes, they tattoo the color on the nipple.  I’m amazed at the reality of this procedure.  I have seen a completed DIEP breast with nipple and it was amazingly realistic. 

Here are my concerns though.  Several women I know have not gone ahead with the nipple reconstruction.  They have elected to keep their “barbie boobs.” and not worry about adding the nipples.  From my reading, it would seem that there is quite an attachment for we women with our nipples.  You can add a “mound” for a breast but our nipples are distinct, so adding a nipple that isn’t quite the size or placement of the previous nipple or getting the color and having it seem totally wrong can be distressing.  I was already distressed enough by my little friend “digger” on my completed mound, I’m not sure I’m up for nipples that might cause me distress…!

The second thing that concerns me about nipple reconstruction is the whole appearance.   I think I ask my plastic surgeon this question every time I’m in his office: “is there any way to make my flap darker?”   It just seems with tattooing and technology there would be a way to match my skin tones?  You see, my chest is very dark because of radiation.  I have a constant tan.  It seems to be lightening a little bit but just under my breasts there is a line where the radiation starts.  Dr. D took the skin from my belly, which probably never saw the light of day.  So I have headlights….and I don’t even have nipples.  I joke with Jeremy that my breasts actually glow in the dark.  So with the scars circling my breasts, ultra white skin, what if adding nipples makes my breasts look like a bulls-eye?  Seriously.  Dr. D says adding the nipples sort of pulls it all together and my “glowing” will not be quite so bright.   But I’m afraid my breasts might look like a target ad in the end.

While I was looking around for information about nipple reconstruction, I found this very lovely informational segment on the University of Michigan web site about nipple reconstruction.  It had me laughing so hard I fell off my chair.  It was one of those laughing moments that amuses Jeremy so much because I was laughing so hard I was literally crying and couldn’t breathe.  Here’s what it said:

“Nipple and areola (the dark circle around the nipple) reconstruction is completely optional. Some women want only the shape of the breast to fill a bra, and decide they don’t need a nipple. Another option is to apply removable nipples that stick on with adhesive. These rubbery tips are shaped like a semi-erect nipple and the color and texture are quite lifelike.”

Now, if you wear fake nipples, I am so sorry I’m laughing.  If it works for you, then go for it.  Maybe it brings some normalcy to life.  But for me, if I tried to wear these things while Jeremy and I were being intimate, well, you can imagine.  I would be laughing hysterically the whole time.  But hey, if I had these on hand I could decide to wear nipples whenever I wanted.  I could wake up one morning and think “I’ll wear nipples today.” 

Alright, enough about nipples.  I don’t have to decide this today thankfully.


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