Almost a year after the TRAM Flap surgery

My thoughts after my TRAM flap breast reconstruction surgery

Its been nearly a year since I had my breast reconstructed. The TRAM Flap procedure is the method I opted for and generally speaking, I'm pleased. I ended up having a free TRAM flap which is a complicated and intense procedure.

I chose this procedure because it used my own body tissue and because I felt that in the long-term, it would be better for me. It would have been easier and faster to have an implant, but after all of the breast cancer treatments, I was really leery about having anything foreign in my body.

When I speak to other survivors who have gone through breast reconstruction, I still wonder whether I made the right choice -- or rather, was there an easier choice to make. But, it's fine now and I really have few complaints.

Flatter tummy... but still no abs.

My tummy is somewhat flat. It isn't as flat as I expected it to be. I thought it would be just ridiculously flat but a better descriptor would be smooth. I guess in order to get it to flat, I will have to do some work. (laughs) I expected to wake up with abs of steel and well, its not that.

My breast is amazing. I still don't have a nipple yet, but I will have one soon. Surprisingly, I'm actually okay without it right now. The reconstructed breast looks wonderful in my clothes. And it's nice and perky (as is my other breast which was reduced to match in size). I often run around without a bra on... and that is really cool.

Hmm... I didn't realize what I was missing all those years I carried those super-large breasts around...

Hey Sexy Adam Levine!
I'm just imagining that he's winking at me... and my new boobies. 

The downsides are few... 

I still have limited feeling in my tummy area. The numb area is much smaller than it was immediately following the surgery. But all of the feeling has not returned to my tummy area.

My abdomen muscles are stronger but still not completely strong. Every now and then I'll do something that reminds me that I had major surgery and had some of my abdominal muscles removed. But it doesn't happen often and when it does happen, the cramps don't last too long.

My posture is still rather poor. It is better than it was after my mastectomy, but I am truly a work-in-progress in this area.

The tightness of my abdomen causes me to involuntarily curl at the shoulders to avoid pulling those muscles too hard. Hard to be sexy with rounded shoulders. (laughs) But I'm working on that too.

Lymphedema woes

The additional surgery around my underarm area totally aggravated my lymphedema. It was very mild prior to the TRAM procedure... now, it is the bane of my life.

I am so sick of the fat arm... ugh. 

But, I can still move it around and I'm just forced to constantly stretch and exercise and massage it. And wear my compression sleeve constantly. I am hoping that as I start to lose weight (I'm changing my food habits now) and start to work out more (planning to incorporate some very light weight lifting into my exercise plan), the lymphedema will get better.

This is what a cancer patient looks like after TRAM Flap surgery.
This is not me.

I know that for the longest time doctors have been telling breast cancer patients with lymphedema risks not to over-exert the affected arm, not to lift heavy objects and all that. But that seems so off to me (and yes, I have no medical training whatsoever but so what).

I'm just going to do what I think is best and hope for the best.

I love pre-vivor stories. I often wonder what I would
have done if I were in those shoes.
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My new breast is really quite different

The other downside of the procedure is that while my new breast is nice... it doesn't actually look like a real breast. And there are times when that matters to me.

Also, there's no feeling in it. I can feel around it... but I cannot feel the actual breast. If someone brushes against me, or even reaches out to grab me... I won't notice it unless I see it happen. That is not very sexy.

But, all things considered, I'm more happy with my reconstructed breast than I was without it

The pain after the surgery is really a dim memory. 

I recall that it was the most painful thing I'd ever experienced in my life. I absolutely hated the recuperation period. But, despite all of that... I am generally pretty happy.

I chose the TRAM flap because implants require regular surgical maintenance and I did not want to do that. However, implants are easier to get initially, take much less time in the operating room, cost significantly less and your recuperation time is far shorter. So they are truly a good option.

Great book. Click this image to purchase.

You can only TRAM once though... gotta add that to the equation

TRAM flaps are one-time options though. Once they take the flesh from your tummy, they cannot go back and do that procedure again. My plastic surgeon was trying to convince me to have both breasts removed so that she could do the TRAM flap for both breasts at the same time. I just refused to do that. I am hoping that I don't regret the decision to keep my natural breast.

I don't particularly like my scars (on either breast) but they don't make me as crazy as they used to when I look at them. I am becoming more and more comfortable wearing low-cut things that show off my cleavage and my scars. I am less concerned with people noticing my scars and asking me crazy questions.

The scars on my hips and across my lower belly have healed well. They haven't disappeared which is what I had hoped for, but they are okay. It really looks a lot like a cesarean scar except it stretches from hip to hip.

Now that I think about it though, I have slacked off with my vitamin E oil/shea butter massages on my scars. Hmm... need to get back on that. It was definitely helping the scars to look better, my skin to look better and also to soften up the tissue underneath the scars.

I used raw shea butter to heal my scars and restore my skin.
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Some of my friends had excellent luck with Bio-oil on their scars.
I didn't love it. But I did see some help with it.
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Just about a year now... and I'm content

I am about 11 months from the surgery and its been a good recuperation. I am confident that I will continue to make progress and feel sexier every day. I do not regret making this choice at all.

That's all for now,

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