My name is Diane. I am 53, which sounds really ancient but isn't that old when you consider that both Cher and Goldie Hawn are around that age!! Not that there's any comparison, just wanted to throw that in so you wouldn't picture a little old lady in a rocking chair.
In 1976 I got silicone implants. I had been sooo flat chested, basically just had nipples. I hated the way my chest looked, and felt different from everyone else. What actually convinced me to get implants was that I was too flat for mammograms back then. A couple of years earlier I had two lumps in one breast that had to be biopsied (cysts, thank heavens). When another lump was found in the other breast, I decided this was enough!!! My gosh, how could lumps form when I didn't have any measurable tissue? It seemed so unfair to have them cutting on those flat breasts over and over when everyone else got to have a mammogram! The implants seemed a perfect solution: I could look normal, AND have mammograms!!! I got implanted when I had the biopsy (cyst again) and was the happiest person in the world!! The surgery was done under local, and my recovery was easy and swift. I didn't want to go too large, and ended up a full B. I finally looked the way I knew I should, and was told they would last forever so the great results were for a lifetime.
I had 23 wonderful years with my implanted breasts. I never thought of them as implants, though, they were just "me". I never had any problems whatsoever with them. I didn't pay much attention to the publicity about silicone implants because I was absolutely fine and had no reason to worry.
This last May, I found a breast lump. A mammogram and two ultrasounds showed nothing, so the next step was a biopsy. My primary sent me to a general surgeon who said he would not do a biopsy since I had 23 year old silicone implants which most probably have ruptured. I went to a PS who said the same thing. I called all over and couldn't find anyone willing to biopsy on what they figured to be a "100% chance of ruptured silicone implants". I finally found a great PS in a nearby city who was willing to do the biopsy but only if I agreed to have explantation on both sides with capsules removed too. He said it was probably going to be a mess in there. He didn't want to talk about any kind of replacement implants as we didn't know what was going on with the silicone, plus there was the matter of the lump. This all took three months from when I found the lump and it was an extremely stressing time, there were so many things to worry about and it was taking so long. I felt that it was unfair that other women "got" to have a biopsy right away to see if they had cancer and I was going through all this because the doctors were so afraid of getting near old silicone!! My insurance agreed to pay for the biopsy only, but not all the rest because my implants were considered cosmetic. I'm going to put the bills on my credit cards.
Meantime, I had gotten a computer for the first time in my life and was frantically looking up everything I could on breast cancer, silicone implants, and implants in general. That is how I found this site, and also the "other" site, the anti-implant one. I posted there first, and there were some very kind, supportive and helpful ladies. There were also others who scared me to death and I almost felt like some were yelling at me like when my surgeon wouldn't remove the implants "en bloc" (as a single capsular unit with the implants inside). I know there are some extremely ill ladies who are going through horrible experiences and my heart and prayers go out to them. I have no idea what caused their illnesses. I just know I had had no problems from the silicone. Sure I have developed some sensitivities and allergies and have my share of medical woes, but things happen to everyone, even more so as our bodies age and we are exposed to more and more chemicals in our everyday environment. Anyway, I was sooo scared already that I didn't need to see so much anger and accusations. I came to Nicole's site. I learned much about implants and surgery, and also saw so very much love and compassion and support here that I felt like I'd come home. I laughed at the great humor, cried at the sad stories. This site has helped me so much, I can't even begin to thank everyone. I got courage, knowledge and friendship all in one place.
One of the implant facts I learned is that they have a shelf life, an expiration date so to speak. What a revelation!!! I had no idea, or would have had them redone at most at the 10 year mark. I was amazed at how little I knew (and still don't know) compared to how well informed the gals are on this forum. I also looked up my PS in resources here and I found that there was a restriction on his license!! I panicked again, emailed my plastic surgeon, and posted on the forum. Thank heavens for the support as it was a weekend and I couldn't find out anything until Monday (the day before surgery). When I called the State Board of Medical Examiners I found out the restriction had nothing to do with his medical expertise or competence, and they actually said he was a great surgeon!!!
Monday afternoon my husband drove us to Eugene and we checked into the motel. After three months of fear and worry, it was finally going to be over with! So many questions and concerns: did I have cancer, did I have silicone all over inside me, and finally - would I even survive the surgery? I have a terrific fear of general anesthesia, hate the thought of being so dependent upon an anesthesiologist. As usual for the past few months, I got only about 3 hours of sleep that night.
Tuesday morning: surgery date. Had to be at the hospital at 8:15 for 10:15 surgery and they left me in the waiting room for an hour!! I was alternately pacing and catatonic, it was a very long hour. Finally got called to my cubicle and the process started. I blabbed nonstop because I was so scared. Then the anesthesiologist appeared and quickly gave me something to calm me down and whatever it was it was GREAT STUFF. Also, since I tended toward nausea after a general, he agreed to give me something during surgery for that. My impression of the whole surgical experience and the general anesthesia which I had been dreading so much was hearing a nurse say "It'll be over before you know it" "It's over". That was it!!! One minute I was waiting for it to start and the next second I was in the recovery room looking at the clock and wondering where the past hour went. No pain, no nausea!!! And yes, the whole surgery: bilateral explantations and capsulectomies (I didn't need a lift), took only one hour!
The surgeon was surprised and happy. Contrary to what the horror stories had led us to believe, the implants were not ruptured!! The capsules were calcified (hardened) and the implants did break upon removal - but they were the old thin shelled ones they don't make anymore. It was actually a simple procedure to remove everything. He used crease incisions. The breast lump turned out to be only a part of one of the capsules. I went back to the motel a few hours later and we drove home the next day.
Thursday: it is now post op day 2 and I can get the drain tubes taken out tomorrow as there is hardly any drainage (they expected them to be in a week!). I have needed only a few of the mild pain pills (just 4) since the surgery! Am very tired, and somewhat uncomfortable (have a binder on my chest) but really no pain except when I go to reach for something, which I am not doing. I am not going to look when the doctor pulls out the tubes, I get to keep the binder on for another week, THEN I'll deal with how I look. With all my other fears, I forgot to be afraid of what I'd look like! I am not sure if I will have replacement implants, cost and mammogram visualization being the prime reasons I wouldn't, also maybe I won't look too bad when I've healed. I've seen some info about the nova golds on the forum, though, and think I will research them. Otherwise, I'd go with silicone again.
Friday: post op day 3. I can't believe it, I actually looked when they took off the binder!! I had sworn I wasn't going to look but I did and let out a squeal...they looked great!! Granted they are small, and I couldn't see the crease incisions 'cause I was flat on my back, but they just looked like small breasts, real breasts. I was so afraid I would be deformed looking. I am soo relieved. When the binder comes off for good next week, I'll get a better look standing up, but so far so good. Am still considering replacements, though.
Friday, post op day 10. I took the binder off and finally got a look at myself. I'm very squished from the binder and quite flat, mabye an AA/A. This is better than before the BA, but quite a shock from my recent full B cup. The breasts not very defined and the nipples are sort of droopy. I sure look different!
Sunday, post op day 12. Tomorrow it will be time to take off the steri strips. I am quite worried that the adhesive will hurt and/or the incisions will open up or something. Women on the forum suggested Vit E oil, and Dr. Burr suggested taking them off in the shower, I think I'll try both. The incisions are larger than implant ones, they're about 4 inches long. I'm not sure if that's usual or because my capsules were so old and firm.
Monday, post op day 13. I got the steri strips off!!! It wasn't painful, and didn't hurt the incisions, at all. The tape has a really soft, gooey adhesive that doesn't pull. Of course the Vit E oil and/or the shower soaking might have helped. I took a good look at myself and other than the slightly droopy nipples they look pretty much like regular breasts. At least there is some advantage to getting older and gaining a few pounds! I was afraid the breasts would hang down like empty flour sacks since I didn't have a lift, but they look pretty normal. My husband thinks they look nice!
Third week post op. I've tried to figure out why I'm not as bothered with being flat now as I was before I got the implants in the first place. I truly feared it would be worse because I had breasts for so long and then lost them. I think what actually is going on is that before my BA at age 30, I was so flat that I felt different from every other woman, almost like a freak. I then got my implants, and looked normal and felt good. So, because I DID have breasts for quite a while that makes me now still "normal" in my mind. All this doesn't make much sense even to me, but that is how I feel! Also, I now know I have choices: I may have to wait a while, but I had breasts once and I can have them again. I'm not stuck with what I was born with unless that is what I want. This knowledge is very empowering. Good luck to everyone, and thanks again for this site. Diane