Tuesday, November 27, 2007

the plastic surgeon

Despite the fact that I still can’t read the mounds of literature that I’ve been given about breast cancer and reconstruction, I think that I’m getting a little more courageous about this whole ordeal :-).

Today I saw the plastic surgeon, Dr. Lichstein. He’s a sort of nerdy kind of guy, but very likable. He comes with very good recommendations from my breast cancer support group.

There are lots of options for reconstruction - silicon implant, saline implant, taking fat from the belly (and getting a simultaneous tummy tuck, which I could use) – each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

For now, Dr. L says, the most important thing that I do is treat the cancer, that I can gradually make my reconstruction choices.

Since the idea of a 7-hour surgery (and 4-5 days in the hospital) doesn’t appeal to me, I decided to just go with the mastectomy for now. After Dr. Rimmer removes the breast, Dr. L will put in an “expander” – which will gradually be filled with saline to stretch my skin for an implant (saline or silicon or fat from my tummy). After 3-6 months Dr. L will do the implant surgery, lifting the other breast to match the fake one.

They showed me photos. The final products all looked great. The expander stage looks very weird.

They said that I would have to deal with “drains” for 7-10 days after the surgery because the body tries to fill in empty cavities with fluid. But that it wasn’t going to be as bad as it sounds.

The cancer treatment (chemo, radiation, etc.) will not be determined until after a pathologist examines the removed breast and lymph nodes.

God, I can’t believe I wrote all that. It does sound gruesome. Dr. L's office is now coordinating with Dr. Rimmer’s office for a surgery date, which he says could be next week, but will be no later than 3 weeks from now.