Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Tissue Expander Fill

I had an appointment with my plastic surgeon to get my first "fill.' This is a process that will go on for about a year - every three weeks or so, he will inject the tissue expander under my mastectomy site with saline. This will stretch the skin and muscle enough to allow for an implant.

If you are anything like me, you love to watch those surgery shows. I'm particularly fascinated with the ones where they separate conjoined twins. To make sure they have enough skin to cover the areas of separation after the surgery, they use the same type of tissue expander I have.

I'll never forget some sweet little babies joined at the head who had one of these things - at the end of their expansion it looked they had three heads.

That's what my breastical area will end up looking like - a big baby head. They have to over-expand it to try and get a sagging match on the other side. For a time, I'll have a baby head on the right and a small, saggy real breast on the left. Getting dressed is going to be fun.

Anyway, the procedure went smoothly. He took out a device, I think it's a magnet of some sort, to find the area in the tissue expander to insert the needle. I was concerned because no numbing agent is used and there are random spots on my skin where I have sensation - fortunately, the opening is not under one of those spots.

He asked me if I wanted to be conservative or go for broke - I said broke. The needle went in and they started pumping in the saline.

It was like a mission control countdown. The nurse was urgently calling out, "10 cc's." "20 cc's." "30 cc's" The doctor put my hand on my skin so I could feel it rise with each cc. I could feel the muscle and skin get tighter and tighter and about 80ccs I could feel tension in my arm, so that is where we stopped.

The nurse told me that night I would feel like I had done 200 push-ups.

I can't relate.

The doctor stated that sometimes people go up to 200 cc's their first fill. I guess that means I didn't do very well. I'm a TE expansion failure. However, asking around on the breast cancer forums, nobody has gotten that much so maybe his regular clientele are the type of women who can relate to what it feels like to do 200 push-ups.

I'm the kind who can relate to the after-effects of a big shopping trip and carrying an armload of clothing. Ouch!

I experienced almost no pain that night - slight soreness and my usual muscle weakness. Next time, I'll ignore the arm stretching and try for 100 cc's.

Now, please excuse me. I'm off to get one of my son's super strong magnets to see if I can find this injection area myself and stick a magnet to me.

Ann, the walking refrigerator.


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