I talked extensively about the surgery options that are possible for me. I was completely set on one called DIEP flap surgery. Essentially, the breast tissue is removed sparing as much skin as possible, a large segment of skin is taken from your lower abdomen and the fat is removed from your belly and put into the breast to recreate new breasts using your own tissue. This is done through a grueling surgery that requires 3 different surgeons (in my case) and an operating room for 10 - 12 hours. This surgery takes so long because it is done through microsurgery where each blood vessel, nerve and all tissue is attached one my one under a microscope. The recovery is a guaranteed 2 days in the ICU and 3 more in the burn unit recovery before going home. Drains are placed at the breasts and also at the abdominal site to ensure that the body does not fill up the cavity with fluid. The overall benefits of this surgery are that you get breasts reconstructed at the time of surgery and you essentially get a tummy tuck. It puts you out of commission for 6 - 8 weeks all depending on how you heal. There is a possibility of future fat grafting if the breasts are uneven or not full enough. If you chose to have nipples reconstructed that is yet another surgery to do so, followed by tattooing down the road.
The plastic surgeon grabbed my abdomen during this appointment and told me that I would be lucky if I had enough belly fat to recreate the size breasts that I have today. She asked if I was happy with the reduction and size and overall the answer is yes. I wouldn't mind going just a hint bigger, but I'm fine with the size I am today too.
My plastic surgeon then told me about a process that she has done before and is bringing back to her clinic called BRAVA reconstruction. She told me about this plastic surgeon in Miami, FL who invented the BRAVA and the surgery process and how it is successfully reconstructing breasts using fat grafted from all parts of the body through liposuction. The catch is that you have to wear these crazy cones on your breast for 10 hours every day for 200 hours prior to any fat grafting procedure. It was once approved by the FDA, but they have since pulled it for mastectomies and consider it off-label use. What that means is that I have to purchase one or two of these BRAVA "bras" out of pocket if I choose this route. I have since read a lot about it, read many testimonies, and talked with my husband over the best option for me. I am leaning more toward this surgery, but I know it will be a long road and a very emotional journey since I will wake up from my mastectomy surgery with no breasts to begin with.
I recently went to the local hospital to get labs drawn so that I can have a CT of my abdomen to determine IF I am even a candidate for the DIEP surgery. If for some reason my arteries and veins are not where they "should" be then it automatically rules out the possibility of the DIEP surgery for me. CT scan is scheduled for August 26th. More details to follow.