The end of a long road.
An explanation of the usual mastectomy/ reconstruction process: Note: Other surgical options are available. Breast reconstruction following a mastectomy can be done in several ways. Using the patient’s own tissue, at least two options build a new breast with either muscle (in the less-common TRAM) or fat (in the DIEP procedure); these procedures are generally done at the time of the mastectomy. When using implants made with saline or silicone, breast tissue is removed and an expander (which resembles a flattened beach ball) is placed under the chest muscle. The incision is closed, and two weeks later, the surgeon begins to inject saline solution into the expander, which stretches the muscle and the skin. The expansion continues at two-week intervals until the desired size is reached (one benefit of this process is being allowed to choose the new breast size)–this process takes about 3 months. A second surgery removes the expander(s) and replaces each with an implant, usually silicone, since that is most lifelike. A third, optional procedure pinches up a bit of skin to form the nipple point. Finally, a tattoo is applied to resemble the areola. This is what I do, using up to three colors. (As you can see here, other options are possible.) The entire process, from diagnosis to normalcy, takes about ten months to a year. I’ve been there, and I am available to offer reassurance for those who face this experience. In the case of a single replacement, the new nipple must match the remaining one; otherwise, the color and size are at my client’s discretion–often, my client will come in with her husband/partner/mother/best friend, and they get the fun of those choices.
More detail about breast reconstruction can be found in the comparative listing at the Johns Hopkins website: www.hopkinsmedicine.org/avon_foundation_breast_center/treatments_services/reconstructive_breast_surgery/options.html
For this client, I needed to match the remaining breast.
After her reconstructive surgery, this client wanted a bit of body art to commemorate a sister whom she lost to BC.