OK, it’s actually happening. I will have a mastectomy of my right breast on Tuesday 4 September during which I will also undergo the first stage of an implant reconstruction.
I had hoped that my surgeon might go for a one-stage process but this isn’t the case. Instead, because of my slim build (grrr!) I will need to have several procedures over the course of another three to six months.
After removing the breast tissue, my surgeon has decided to insert a tissue-expander which will be partially injected with saline and topped up over the course of 6 weeks. This will stretch the pectoral muscle and prepare it for the insertion of a full implant.
The expander will stay in place for about three months and then either it will have some fat injected into the skin around it and left for another few months or have the implant inserted.
Now you might be wondering how a tissue-expander is, well, expanded? It has a valve. Seriously. Not on the outside, thank God – I won’t look like a lilo – but on the inside, under the skin, that they inject the saline into. The expander is like a little plastic bag that they slowly inflate. (And it can pucker and wrinkle like a plastic bag too!)
Consequently it does seem that I will have some months of lop-sided boobs to look forward to but this does seem to be the best way to ensure a good long-term result. Ultimately, I will also need some implant surgery on my other breast - or ‘lefty’ as Mr P. likes to call it - to match the raised effect of the reconstruction.
It is a somewhat drawn out process but I’ve come to expect that now. The important thing is to take the time to get the balance right. On the plus-side, the surgeons seem doubtful that I’ll need to have radiotherapy after the mastectomy – but I’m not counting my chickens just yet!