I had my ba done just over four years ago. I had never had much breast tissue at all and was teased mercilessly as a teenager and found that even as an adult, I was the butt of a number of comments/jokes from friends and co-workers. I am not a small person (175cm or 5'9" and about 140 – 150 pounds) and my lack of breasts always made me look quite out of proportion. My husband never seemed to mind terribly and as my family was the real focus of my life when my kids were small, it wasn't until my kids were older and less dependent on me that I really started to look at what I wanted out of life for myself. After a hysterectomy at 36 (which didn't really bother me, or so I thought), I found that I really felt quite unfeminine and the desire for a ba to boost my self-esteem became almost an obsession.
After much research and questioning, I had saline implants inserted in 1995, boosting me from a small A cup to a standard C cup. I had no desire for large breasts, it was more that I no longer wanted to be noticed for what seemed to me to be a physical 'abnormality' - something that made me different to others. After the surgery, I felt that my body type and shape now fell within a 'normal' range and I no longer felt the need to avoid the beach or to cover up under baggy clothes and jackets. I had never really worn a bra (except while pregnant and breast feeding), certainly not one with underwire or without padding.
After the ba, I found I could do things other women took for granted. I could buy and wear clothes off-the-rack, go shopping for lingerie, wear a two-piece swimsuit and so on. I was at last quite comfortable with my body and I couldn't have been happier. My breasts looked wonderful - there was no hardening or unnatural outline, the scarring was minimal and their size seemed perfect. I couldn't understand why I hadn't done it sooner.
At the time that I had the ba (1995), not many surgeons were doing ba's in Australia. It was the height of the silicon controversy and many ps's were waiting to see the outcome of the various studies that were going on. My doctor referred me to four ps's before I found one that would perform the operation. He too was avoiding the silicon issue and was only inserting saline implants. He had qualifications galore, had written papers for a number of medical journals and had invented many of the tools required to perform underarm incision implantation. He was very quietly spoken and it wasn't easy to get information from him but I was happy with his qualifications and the information that he provided me (once prompted). We decided on 275ml saline implants inserted under the muscle via an incision in the armpit.
On the day of the operation (after I had received a pre-med and while I was being prepared for surgery), my doctor introduced me to another surgeon who he said was going to assist. A second surgeon had not been mentioned prior to this point and it came as quite a surprise. I had never met this other fellow and had no idea about his qualifications or what role in the surgery he would play. As the surgery was just about to take place, and as I had had so much trouble finding a surgeon in the first place, I felt unable to say no to this situation although I felt somewhat confused and uncomfortable. This may not be a big issue but the impression of it has stayed with me and I always felt that it played some part in the outcome of the surgery itself.
The op went ahead and by all accounts went fine. I went home the following day having had the surgical tape replaced with the standard sports bra. Although I returned to work on day 3, I was in considerable pain for many weeks. There also appeared to be a difference in healing rate/pain/scarring between my right and left breasts. I have always suspected that the two sides were operated on by different surgeons but I have never had confirmation of this. One side had minimal bruising, the scar healed beautifully and the implant seemed to fit perfectly in the pocket created. The right side however, was black and blue for weeks and the burning sensation and post-op pain lasted far longer in the right than the left. The scar has always been much more obvious on the right side and the implant always felt a little large for the implant pocket.
To me, the implant could be felt quite noticeably on the right side and rippling under the breast seemed to indicate to me that there was not enough room for the implant to sit comfortably. Despite the pain and the slightly different feel of the right breast to the left, the look(eventually) was exactly what I was after and I had no complaints. A nagging doubt though niggled at the back of my mind - would the rippled surface of the right implant create points of weakness that could lead to a rupture later on? I had been told that a rupture was always a possibility with saline implants but I always hoped that the statistics (1% rupture within 10 years) would be on my side.
A couple of weeks ago and only 4 years since the implants were done, I noticed that my left breast (not the right as I had always feared) appeared somewhat deflated. It was my wedding anniversary and I was looking forward to a wonderful day and I spent the whole day trying to convince myself that it was my imagination. Although it didn't appear any better or worse the next day, I phoned my ps' surgery and asked what to do.
The surgery nurse recommended that I get a mammogram or X-ray done to confirm that a problem existed so I made an appointment to see my local gp. My gp wasn't convinced that an X-ray would show anything and thought that a mammogram could make the situation worse if a leak was in fact present so after talking to the local radiologists, we decided that an ultrasound was probably the best bet. I wasn't entirely sure how an ultrasound would be able to detect anything either and I was quite concerned that the local radiologists would not have dealt with this particular problem before but I made an appointment for the next day and went along all the same.
By the next day, the deflation seemed somewhat worse and I was pretty convinced that my worst fears had come true. Lo and behold, the ultrasound proved conclusive and showed fluid outside the implant (confirming the leak) as well as streaks of body fluid within the implant itself (the body fluid seeps from outside the implant, through the point of rupture, and appears on the ultrasound as white streaks within the normally clear fluid of the implant).
I phoned the ps with the results and luckily (or so I felt), they were happy to book me in for replacements at short notice. The implants themselves would be replaced by the manufacturer without charge and the ps would perform the surgery minus his usual fee. As I no longer lived in the same city, I would be up for travel and accommodation but felt that the financial advantage of going back to the same surgeon outweighed the convenience of a local surgeon.
By the time I had my appointment with the ps (about 10 days after I first noticed something), my left breast appeared to contain the implant itself and nothing else. It had no volume at all and I was back to wearing baggy shirts and jackets to work. I felt extremely self conscious and terribly depressed. I was counting the days/hours before the replacements could be done but I was dreading going through the surgery and pain all over again.
I had to devise some reason for taking a few days off work and was feeling very unhappy and disillusioned with the whole situation. The breasts that had given me so much in the way of self esteem over the last four years were back to being the focus of feelings of inadequacy and lack of femininity. I had an appointment with the ps for the day before the scheduled surgery. At the appointment, we discussed the options and he recommended that I have the saline implants replaced with the new contoured gel implants that are now available. According to the ps, these implants are superior to the silicone implants previously available and their strength should reduce the chance of further ruptures in the future. Again, due to the fact that going elsewhere would cost me so much more money and would take so much longer, I didn't feel that I could do much more than accept his recommendation and hope for the best (my fear is that ruptures with the new gel implants are not less common - just harder to detect, but perhaps that's just my paranoia speaking). The gel implants would mean incisions under the breast (more scars!!) but my husband and I both agreed that this was not really an issue. Before I left for surgery, the ps took a photo of my withered breast and I left with visions of being in the disasters section of his portfolio. How depressing.
The morning of the surgery arrived and I had visions of all of the things that could go wrong. The anesthetic was, in the end, a welcome relief from the thoughts that had been chewing at me for days. Post-op, I found that the pain, although quite intense, was not as bad as I had feared it would be. After only one injection of pethedine in the afternoon following the surgery, I found I could cope just with standard pain killers. Three days after the surgery, although still in some pain and finding it somewhat difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position, I am not taking anything at all. It is certainly MUCH better this time than last. I suspect that this is due to the fact that the pockets for the implants are already there but again, I have no confirmation of this.
As for the gel implants, the look is much the same as before but the feel is incredibly different. Although I can't do much experimental squeezing at this stage, they appear to be much softer and more natural feeling than the previous saline ones. There is no visible bruising at all which is a stark contrast to the first time. I have been told that theories about post-op recovery have changed somewhat since my previous ba and that I should wear the un-wired sports bra night and day for 2-3 months and perform no exercise of any magnitude for at least this length of time. From memory, I was told last time to refrain from most activities for about 2 weeks (not that I could have done anything for considerably longer than this) but to tackle activities as I felt up to it after that. According to the ps nurse, the theory is now that there is less chance of problems such as capsulation if there is very little movement between the implant and the muscle. This will mean no golf for me for at least 3 months but if it means that these implants retain their soft, natural feel, I guess that I can accommodate that. I have read that there may be a somewhat higher incident of hardening etc with the under-breast incision so I'm not taking any chances.
Today is day 5 and apart from feeling a little tired (my sleep is still a bit fitful as I find it hard to get comfortable), I feel remarkably good. The tape and stitches will be removed on Friday week (two weeks after surgery) and I'm looking forward to getting back into normal clothes and some attractive looking underwear in the not too distant future. Thanks to all who offered their support and understanding when I posted the rather desperate 'rupture' mail a few weeks ago and please feel free to mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions/issues in regard to the whole experience. Now that it is all over, I am feeling much less depressed and unhappy but it is not a pleasant experience to go through and my feelings go out to anyone who has had a similar experience.
I feel very lucky to have found this website prior to the operation as it provided a wealth of information and support that I would not have otherwise had. It has been very important to me in the past (and even now) that nobody knows that I have had a ba but this has meant that I have had no-one to talk to about any issues concerns. Having access to a lot of info on many related issues as well as access to others who have been through similar experiences has been a real boon to me and I thank you all.