Thursday, 10 May 2018

Prophylactic Mastectomy - Should I keep My Nipple?

So last week I went back to see my surgeon. We're really happy with the scarring and the overall shape I have with the expander in and Mr M says I'm ready to have the exchange surgery to switch from the hard bulky expander to an implant. At this point I raise the fact that I still want to go ahead with the prophylactic surgery on the 'healthy breast'. 

I can tell my my consultants face that he's against this and re-iterates the fact that it's not necessary. I explain that from Day 1, back in December when I got my diagnosis, I have always asked for them to take both breasts. It just isn't worth the risk for me. I have 2 children, I live for them, I'm not risking it. No way. Mr M says I will need to see the psychologist agan to get final approval. I explain I have already spent sometime with him and I know he will approve it.

Because I'm opting for the second mastectomy, the exchange surgery will need to wait. I now have a number of options to consider for the mastectomy surgery:

1. Lose the nipple
- this would mean I have to go through exactly the same process as before. When you have your nipple removed you have to have an expander to enable the skin to stretch. If I go ahead with this then I'll have mastectomy with expander,weekly fills up to 450cc as on the left side and then once complete and rested the exchange to implants will happen together to allow a better match.

If I go ahead with this option then there are more options of what I can do to look like I have nipples again. 3D areola tattoos, prosthetic 'stick on' nipples and I can even have flesh taken from elsewhere to make a nipple shape in place of those that I have lost that can be tattooed over too to give a realistic colour.



An example of customised nipple prosthesis.
Image: www.feelingwholeagain.com

2. Keep the nipple on the right breast
- this would leave me with 'odd' boobs and looking pretty much like I do now. One breast with a nipple and one without. I already know that this isn't the option for me, I want uniformity. I want to match both sides regardless of whether I have nipples or not.

3. Share the nipple
- this is something that I had actually read upon myself and decided to ask about. So, if I went ahead, I would keep my right nipple. It would remain in place after the mastectomy but at a later date (probably after the exchange surgery and during another day case under anaesthetic) my nipple would be split it in two and made in to two nipples. Half will remain on my right breast and the other transplanted and 'shared' on to the left side.

Keeping the nipple does leave me with a slight risk as there will still be a small amount of breast tissue that remains but given that my right breast is healthy, I am torn. There is a lot to think about. I just need to consider all of the options and do what is right for me.

Mr M explains that once Ive been approved my the psychologist he will go ahead an complete the operation for me. With regards to my nipple, I can just let him know my decision on the morning of the operation. I'm likely to be on the waiting list for 6 months to a year. Thank god I'm getting what I want finally!

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