Tag Archives: Nipple Reconstruction

Nipple Reconstruction Success

Did I say I’d continue that tomorrow? Sigh….
Well, I’m a little late.
Late enough to tell you that my crazy appetizer looking nipples now look cute and little and are exactly what I wanted. Above expectations. I love them. I’m so glad I was brave.
Now for the tattoo’s….

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Headlights

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….

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10 Reasons to Reconstruct the Nipple

I hate using the word nipple. I suppose this might be our crazy twisted view of breasts. We can show breasts freely at the beach or at the Mall (some of us can) but mention breastfeeding or see a breastfeeding mom and we get nervous. (By the way, I think this is crazy) I think it has to do with the nipple. So deciding to get nipples or to leave my breast looking like Barbie’s has been a bit difficult. Why do I need them? I don’t. Why do I want them? I’m not completely sure. I have a bunch of little reasons why I want nipples. And since people have asked me how I’ve come to this decision, I’ll share them with you. And a few of you who did a search for nipple reconstruction found my crazy blog and are considering nipple reconstruction as well.

1. My locker room phobia. I reason in my head that if I have a nipple I won’t scare anyone who might glance my way in the locker room. Especially children. They are only used to nipple-less breasts on Barbie and Ken. I’m hoping with a nipple to feel a little less abnormal.

2. My Dear Plastic Surgeon says it will look more like a breast. And I believe him. He says it will draw the eyes away from the scars around the breast. Which is amusing to me because it’s not like I’m going to topless beaches, but I do see myself in the mirror every morning and I know what I used to look like. So does Jeremy.

3. The erotic factor. Yes, I did just say that. I lost any bit of feeling in my breasts when they took them. I may as well like what I see. Women actually are visual despite what the relationship books tell you. We know what looks good and what doesn’t.

4. The erotic factor for Jeremy. He would deny any need for nipples. He’s sweet like that, but I don’t believe it for one minute.

5. My kids. I’m glad my kids still have me. But sometimes I wonder if having normal looking breasts would help them in some way. Normalcy is good, right. I used to joke after I had mastectomies that Elijah (my son) would either like really flat women or really big breasts when he grows up, since he was only 1 when I had mastectomy. I figured laying against my rock hard chest would somehow taint his view of women’s breasts. Silly, I know, but it’s how I pass the time when I’m bored. I don’t think I have big breasts now, but a year or so ago, after reconstruction, I was reading to Elijah and he had his head on my breast and it must have occurred to him that they felt like a pillow, because he sat up and pushed on my breast like he was rearranging the pillows and said….”mommy, you have BIG nana’s.” This was our code word during breast-feeding and it has stuck around. Jeremy and I laughed. Compared to my rock hard chest, they do feel pretty darn good. I like having normalcy, I like having pillows, and breasts with nipples are normal.

6. It completes the job. It feels incomplete if I don’t have a finishing point…..no pun intended. Thankfully they won’t resemble Madonna’s cones.

7. I can’t feel it, so it’s not that big of a deal. The funny thing is that I do actually have some sensation in my breasts. I suppose the stem cells from the fat transferred is somehow healing the transferred skin. Very interesting. But I still didn’t feel much at all. Very mild burning sensation.

8. I can make them whatever size I want. I could choose that for the breast mound and I can choose it for my nipples as well. And, if I’m not happy, Dr. D said he can make them bigger or smaller. I like not having to wear a bra, so I’m worried they will be too big, but he has said I can make them flatter if I want. I suppose I could make them inverted if I wanted too….lol!

9. I hate feeling guilty for wanting breasts again. I know this is stress I put on myself. But lots of people offer their opinions when you are doing reconstruction. Just some advice from me here….but saying”do what feels right for you” is the best advice to give a woman post breast-cancer. She’s been through a lot. But a lot of people, who don’t know what it’s like, have said “why do you need them?” or “mine are small too.” And all I can say is….yours didn’t get cut off, nor does it have scars, they can feel when your husband touches them, and the nipples respond when you’re cold. If I want to have three surgeries to plump my breasts up and make them look like a breast by adding nipples…..and I have a plastic surgeon who will do it for me, then I will! I’m done feeling guilty about wanting normalcy.

10. I like taking risks. I could stay ok with Barbie’s boobies or I could risk no one seeing them but me and liking my breasts and having them look normal to me. I also have a pretty good plastic surgeon so the risk is minimal.

 

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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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Bulls-eye

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…..lol!

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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