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It Can Happen To You, Too.

11 Oct

One year, nine days and counting since my breast lift and augmentation.  Right about now last year the complications have begun to really set in.  Won’t be long until the necrosis really starts to get bad.

I suppose I should back up a bit.  Last year on October 2nd I had a boob job that ended up going horribly wrong.  The initial surgery went fine as far as anyone could tell.  I say “initial” because there was a second one and there will be two more.

There was SO much bruising though.  I was black and blue from my waist to the top of my chest.  At first we thought that my nipples and areolae (the rosy area around everyone’s nipples) were just bruised.  Then the surgeon thought that there might be problems re-establishing circulation where they moved the areolae and nipple.

Watching such an intimate part of my body turn black as though it had been burnt was horrifying.  When the surgeon tried sewing on a human skin graft as a bandage and being told not to scream because it was being sewn to my actual skin…  I would never wish these horrors on anyone.  Seeing my nipple turn literally crunchy and then watching the tissue rot…  You’d think it was a Hollywood horror story.  It wasn’t.  It was real and it was only the beginning.

There was a great deal of pressure in my chest in the early stages.  Even before the necrosis I mentioned the pressure.  During an early check up one of the nurses in the office even pointed out what looked like a big bubble on the outer side of my left breast.

The evening that I called the doctor because I was having some difficulty breathing, this person had the gall to suggest to my husband that I “take a valium and calm down”.  Instead of actually trying to figure out what was happening, this person took the “wait and see” approach.

A couple weeks later when my nipples were rotting off and I asked why this was happening, I was told, “I don’t know.  I’ve never seen this before.”.  This person had been a plastic surgeon for 15 years and claims never to have seen necrosis before.  Uhm BULLSHIT??

Finally, on November 7th I went in to have the implants (the “augmentation” part of the surgery) removed along with the dead, necrotic tissue.  The surgeon reported that, upon opening me up, approximately 300 ccs of fluid came splashing out on both sides.  The saline implants were both intact with no leaks.

My body had been producing what is known as “serous fluid”.  It’s that same clear/yellowish stuff that shows up before a scab forms.  It built up in the pocket with the implants causing extra stress on the already stressed tissue.  The surgeon didn’t see fit to put in drains after the first surgery.  Drains were put in the second time.

Now you might think that this would be the end of my story.  And they all lived happily ever after…minus nipples and areolae which I was promised would be reconstructed after I was healed from this surgery.

If I believed in Fate, or even a God, this would be the point that I would lose faith.  Fortunately I’m a non-theist.

Two weeks after the second surgery, the sutures started pulling open.  First the left side tore open.  Then the right.  Until I had two tennis ball sized holes in my chest.  During this time. the surgeon was ON VACATION!!!  No one either could or would tell me why this was happening.  Only that they couldn’t sew me back up again because the same thing would happen.

I was told to flush out the open wounds twice daily with warm water for 10 minutes with a hand held shower attachment.  Then I packed the open wounds with saline-soaked gauze, covered them up and taped them over.

No one should have to do this.  I was determined, however, not to subject my husband to this.  He was not to come in the bathroom while I was showering or changing gauze packing.  I did this all myself because I didn’t want him to see me as some hideous freakish thing.  Of course this is how I saw…and still do see…myself.

Later I went back to the original surgeon who kept promising that I would heal, blah blah blah.  If it wasn’t for the nurse doing some research, I might have been packing my chest with gauze for over 6 months.

She found a machine called a Wound V.A.C. You can read for yourself how it works.

For the next 10 weeks I was hooked up to this machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except for about 2 hours every three days when my sweet, amazing, spectacular husband cut new pieces of specially engineered foam and fitted them in the various spaces of the open wounds , then re-dressed them.

Eventually the wounds closed right after my 41st birthday.  Happy fuckin birthday to me.

I still have no nipples and will have to have reconstructive surgeries.  I say surgeries-plural because the mounds of my breasts must be reconstructed and then there will be nipple reconstruction.  THEN there will be surgical tattooing so that they are the pretty nipple color you have. Right now I am deformed. The V.A.C. machine healed the wounds but not into a breast shape.

In later entries I’ll talk more about the emotional and physical healing aspects of what I’m going through and have gone through.  As well as the subsequent surgeries I’ll be having.

These are complications that can and DO happen to women on a fairly regular basis.  Just because your friend had a boob job and nothing bad happened, that doesn’t mean you can’t have complications, yourself.

Make SURE your surgeon is board certified. Do NOT go the cheap route. Go on multiple interviews. Be aware that there is NO totally safe surgery.  None.  Let what happened to me (and is still happening to me) serve as a cautionary tale.

 

5 responses to “It Can Happen To You, Too.

  1. Terrye

    October 15, 2008 at 1:00 am

    I am so sorry that you have had to deal with these complications. I post on Implantforum.com and read your account there – – we, my husband and I, have devoted ourselves to helping patients, women, avoid these problems. That is why we wrote The Best Breast 2 – to help patients understand that there are pro and cons to every choice in this operation. Anyone can read excerpts of the book and read about the scientific advancements at http://www.thebestbreast.com

    One thing that stikes me though, is that Dr. Tebbetts stopped doing lifts and implants at the same time over 16 years ago – – because he could not control all of the healing factors!!! There were too many complications!

    In our practice, we make all decisions about whether to lift, augment or reduce a breast based on measurements of your tissue.

    The whole lift a breast and make it bigger concept just is NOT logical!!

    If someone needs a lift or mastopexy – it is because their tissue did not hold their own breast tissue weight well – let alone an implant. So now you are going to make the skin envelope smaller and at the SAME time put an implant in to make it BIGGER????? It is simply not logical – – but surgeons often will not tell you that you need two surgeries – – WHY???? How recpetive would you have been if a surgeon told you to do the lift and wait 6 months then measure to see if you could have an implant?

    I do this every day – I told 2 patients today – that they need a lift and should wait to see if an implant was appropriate – – I may loose them as patients, but I know without a doubt that it is the safest way for them to proceed with improvement in their breasts.

    We can’t change genetics – we (surgeons) cannot change what you bring us to work with in terms of tissue – what we can do is be honest with you and help you reconcile what you want with what you can really have – – – EVEN if it is something that you may not want to hear.

    Patients – women – have to take an active role in this process and educate themselves and realize that there is no magic to this – plastic surgery can help and make dramatic improvements in a lot of areas – – but I am asking both surgeons and PATIENTS to be honest and reasonable with each other to achieve optimal long term good results. We need to look for improvement – not perfection. For fuller and firmer breasts but not pre-pregnancy breasts. To understand that breasts were not made or created to look FAKE to begin with – atheist or not – natural breasts don’t look fake – so when we make them look fake – we all must live with the consequences and that may mean multiple re-operations.

    We can enhance the breast and reduce the re-operation rate to 3 % (published numbers from our own practice) but we all have to respect the tissue we are working with!

    I read all the time about lollipop lifts and then 550cc hp implants – – WHAT????? If the breast needed a lift (shows it did not hold its own weight well) and now we (surgeon and patient) are reducing the skin envelope and then putting in giant implants?????? How can we stop the madness?

    Both women and surgeons have to be realistic and discuss tradeoffs and risks – – you can’t always have what you want with out huge risks of complications and re-ops. But you can improve the look and feel of your breasts – both sides of the table have to talk and understand that we are searching for improvement – not perfections and that our expectations may have to be altered given the tissue we bring surgeons to work with.

    Again, I am so sorry that you are here – now – having to go through this – but I am so happy that you have shared this experience and given us all an opportunity to educate ourselves and be better for it!

     
    • Sarah Bailey

      April 30, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      I had a lattismus reconstruction after a bilteral mastectomy due to a recurrence of breast cancer. Had a capsular contraction in my left breast which the surgeon said he didn’t know what it was. Really? He told me he couldn’t help me and that no one could help me. I got second opinions, of course, and had the implants removed, but from day one, I had pain that I knew had to be abnormal. I continue to have incredible pain in my scar tissue which is hard as rock. I have had physical therapy for a year, myofascial release massage, and now on my 3rd pain physician, who is doing acupuncture and scar injections. I think I had a reaction to the plastic foreign body and think my plastic surgeon may have used alloderm w/o my knowledge and I continue to have a reaction to that. Any suggestions? There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of ending my life to end this pain.

       
      • Maria_Myrback

        April 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        Sarah;

        Don’t give up! I know exactly how you feel right now. I contemplated suicide daily when I was in the middle of my stuff too. But if I had given up, I wouldn’t be here to help now. If you are anywhere near Atlanta, I recommend making an appointment to see Dr. Elliott. He’s the one who did my reconstruction. If anyone can help, and he can. If you aren’t, call his office and speak to Suzanne. See if she can refer you to someone in your area. The contact is on the front page of the site. Please drop me a message if you have any questions. And DON’T GIVE UP!

         
  2. boobcast

    October 15, 2008 at 3:43 am

    What surprises me is that the surgeon was so casual about doing both procedures at the same time. I was told that it could be done in two procedures but, and i quoate “I suppose you don’t want to do that”.

    Of course i said no, I didn’t want to and that was the end of that. There was absolutely no mention of a higher possibility of complications from doing both at once. The surgeon acted as though it were no big deal at all. it never occured to me that trying to fit a 500cc implant into a space that had just been made smaller MIGHT cause problems.

    Uhm…duh. Apparently I am sometimes not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree.

    Thank you VERY much for sharing this information. it does help to explain a great deal. I’ll be using this stuff in a future podcast.

     

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