Friday, October 25, 2013

Done Expanding

*WARNING: This blog post is all about boobs. My boobs specifically. And not in the sexy way. It may fall into the category of Too Much Information for you. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Yesterday, I had my last appointment with my plastic surgeon for the purposes of expansion. I have decided I don't need to go overboard with these things. A nice B-cup is fine with me. I've said all along, I just want to be the size I've always pretended to be- thanks to really padded bras.

OK, so here's some information about expanders that I didn't really know going in:

They are not natural. Well, duh.  But they don't look or feel natural at all. They are hard like baseballs (you'll notice if you hug me too tight), they don't move AT ALL, and they sort of look like they were stuck on my chest like Play-Dough lumps.

They are spaced far apart. They really feel like they're sitting in my armpits. My doc says that is intentional, so that you don't accidentally end up with a "uni-boob." Assuming that means that the muscle over the sternum might pop out to the same place as the intentionally expanded pectoral muscles (remember that the expanders go BEHIND the pectoral wall). The wide-placement of them does make it uncomfortable to sleep on my side.

They don't move. Did I mention that? I can jog, jump on a trampoline, or run up and down the stairs (all theoretically- I don't really do any of those things), and these puppies wouldn't move at all. No bra needed. So that's something.

They are uncomfortable. The expansion process goes like this: once a week, I go into the surgeon's clinic, she locates the magnetic port with this little doo-hickie, then pokes a rather large-bore needle attached to some tubing, a saline bag & a large syringe into my already numb skin. I have not felt the needle poke at all, due to the damaged nerves from the surgery. Then she pushes in the saline. She had said originally that they would start small- 25 cc's and work up to about 50 or possibly even 100 cc's at a time. I discovered that 40 cc's was too much after two rather uncomfortable weeks in a row, so we backed it down to 25, which was apparently my magic number. I was on a mild muscle relaxant and some pain-killers for the whole process, which took about 6 weeks. Happy to be done with all those drugs as of yesterday.

They look weird. Did you know that the mastectomy scar goes right across the middle line of the breast? The nipple no longer exists. They make a football-shaped incision around the nipple, then dig out all the breast tissue (I envision a small ice cream scoop. I'm probably wrong), place the expander in roughly the same place, but behind the muscles, then sew it up, or glue it together or whatever- there are no visible stitch marks. They kind of look like they're sleeping. I call them my Sleeping Giants. I was concerned about possible stretch marks due to the rapid shape change. The doc assured me that I would probably not get them, but I did. Mostly right near the center of the incision where they had to pull that skin up tighter to create that straight line. (I'm not showing you a picture of this. You're welcome.) They also are lumped on the chest like big blobs of clay. Not terribly graceful at this point. My shirts keep slipping up and sitting on top of the shelf they create.

Well, now they don't look that impressive. 
Maybe I should keep expanding...

Plus, there is a tendon or something that goes from the top of your armpit down to your chest, which is now anchored on top of my breast instead of behind it. So when I reach forward, I get this weird stringy triangle thing that looks pretty freakish because I'm already so bony.

Ick, maybe don't stand like that.

Haha! I tried to get a better picture of this:
Eew! Freakshow! 
I look all muscle-bound or something! 
Trust me, I'm not.

They may expand differently. Mine are not symmetrical. The left one expanded out flatter and wider, and the right one expanded out forward. It's not really obvious to the casual observer (and most people are too polite to even look at all), but it's obvious to me, my husband and my plastic surgeon!

These things are all temporary. I have been told that all these things are just a part of the process, and the real implants will look and feel natural, be movable, I will be able to smoosh them together and make cleavage (for the first time in my life!), and they will be much more symmetrical when all is said and done. The next step after the implant surgery is tattooing. That's right. They tattoo the nipple and aureola back on (again, no pictures). You can elect to have a artificial nipple inserted, but I don't think I want that. We spend our whole lives trying to cover that up! The 3-D tattoo will be fine for me.

So that's about it for now. I will have the implant surgery in January, while I'm off work for J-term. She said I should plan for a couple of weeks off at least- or half the time I took off for the last surgery.

"How much time did you take off last time?"

"Two weeks. I know you recommended 4-6, but healing is boring. I would have gone nuts." She laughed and confessed that after her c-section, she was back in the office doing expansions the next week. Just brought the baby along. At least she understands my need to keep moving. I don't anticipate this part to be that big of a deal. Maybe I'm wrong. I'll let you know afterward. :)

In non-boob related news, I have this much hair:

Should be able to go wig-free by my birthday next month. 
Wonder if I will have enough hair to hold my birthday tiara in place? 
It still looks like I have an abnormally small head, and it's really cold to go without covering.

Also, I have tiny little eyelashes growing in to fill in the bald spots along my lash lines.
OK, you can't see them, but they're there. 
Right along the bottom outer edge. 
Just trust me on this one.

I'm looking forward to Halloween simply because it means costumes! (No scary stuff at our house) Maia's Fall Festival is tonight at the elementary school. I may have to finally wear that blonde beehive out in public.  In other words, life is very much back to normal around here! 


  1. Gotta say, Amy - that is more than I EVER knew about boobs... So - I just can't imagine the non-movement of them! LOL! Thanks for your honesty and your humor - still praying with you!

  2. Just wasn't all that long ago that we were all holding our breath and praying that some day we'd be "on the other side" of the treatment excited that you're moving forward!!! I just realized I typed "WE'D" be on the other side...I guess, at least speaking for myself, I feel like I've walked through every step of this journey with so so grateful to you for sharing your story and experiences with us...

  3. Yay...for hair!!! and boobs?? I remember the eye lashes were almost more exciting that the hair, at least for me. :)