In 1974, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy. I had six weeks of radiation, and six months later, I had another six weeks of radiation because of a recurrence.
In 1988, I decided to get a breast implant to replace the breast I had lost. My plastic surgeon used saline expanders to gradually stretch the skin, then put in a silicone implant.
The implant was fine for about a dozen years, but then the breast started to get hard. Over a period of about 5 years, the area around my breast bone became very irritated and inflamed. I thought it was from the radiation therapy I had received to treat the cancer, and that I had developed arthritis.
I made an appointment with a doctor to see if the implant could be replaced, but my skin was too thin to perform the procedure. The doctor also discovered that the implant had capsulated and was leaking. He suggested TRAM Flap reconstruction surgery instead of another implant.
Fortunately, the doctor was able to remove all of the silicone during the surgery. I hadn’t filed for any compensation from the class action law suit, but fortunately my health insurance covered the entire hospital bill. I was so relieved!
I can’t begin to tell you what a difference there is between the implant and the new reconstruction. The doctor told me that as time progresses the breast will look more normal, and he was right. My new breast” looks better and better every day. It is still strange to see a breast and not some hard lump under my skin. There are only very small signs of the radiated skin, and eventually, the doctor will tattoo a nipple onto the breast. Even though it wasn’t the easiest procedure for me to go through at age 62, I tried to keep a positive outlook and kept telling myself that I would get better in the end, and that the discomfort would not last.
I encourage women to look into the TRAM flap procedure and ask a lot of questions. And I hope they will find a reconstructive surgeon as wonderful as Dr. Noone at Bryn Mawr Hospital. I am so grateful to him and the nurses for taking such good care of me.