Finally Flat: Suzie’s Revision Story

Editor: For women who initially chose implant reconstruction, and are dissatisfied with their implant experience (there are multiple reasons this may happen – pain, infection, capsular contracture, skin healing issues, implant migration, etc.), the next step is to remove the implants.  This procedure is called “explant.”

After explant, there will almost always be significant excess skin remaining, and if the surgeon does not remove it, the patient is left looking “deflated” which for most women is an absolutely unacceptable result. Removing the excess skin takes time and skill.  Suzie’s plastic surgeon made no attempt to remove any of her excess skin during the explant surgery, despite Suzie being explicitly clear about wanting to have all excess skin removed and stay flat. She was rightly enraged, and demanded that he fix it – here, she tells her story of persistence and finally getting a good flat result that she can live with.

You can read Suzie’s original story here.

In September 2017, I had a double mastectomy and everything happened so fast. I was coerced into reconstruction and just went with it. My primary concern was having my cancer surgically removed. I had had a lumpectomy in the same breast 5 years previous and being small-breasted, I thought there was no salvaging the breast and opted for mastectomy.  I then decided on a double for two reasons: I wanted symmetry, and I didn’t want to find cancer at some later time if I kept the healthy breast [Ed. the risk of new primary breast cancer in the remaining breast is at least doubled once a woman has had her first breast cancer diagnosis, relative to the general population.]

Expanders were removed and replaced with implants two months later. I hated them immediately! I felt WORSE with implants than with the “iron bra” feeling of the expanders. My husband encouraged me to give it time so I did – eight months’ worth of time. I was in constant pain, could never ever sleep on my stomach, couldn’t swim, etc.

To me, these fake-ass breasts weren’t worth such sacrifices!

So, in July of 2018, I explanted. Afterward, I had excess skin left even after I had told him at my pre-operative appointment that I want a FLAT, SMOOTH, TIGHT and TIDY result! He advised me at the pre-op that if he did what I was asking, it would extend my scars out [Ed. to produce a flat contour, oftentimes the scar does need to be extended somewhat further under the arm]. My response was I was totally fine with that! CLEARLY that meant nothing!!

So, after getting more education on the subject, I realized I needed to make noise – a lot of noise – to get what I had asked for! Well, just so happened that noise was produced by me in a scathing email to my nurse navigator, who quickly shared it with my plastic surgeon. The very next morning they called me to set up another appointment!  The following week I went in, and the surgery was scheduled for the following month.

This time, my plastic surgeon did exactly what I asked for. My scars only extend out to where the drains were, but I got a beautiful FLAT and NEAT result! I couldn’t be more pleased. Yes, it’s a shame it wasn’t a once and done deal, but one more surgery was so worth it. And on the plus side, no drains were needed for this revision! I think the final result speaks for itself!

My message to other women who were left with excess skin is: You do NOT have to settle and just “live with it”!

Published by Not Putting on a Shirt

Founder of Not Putting on a Shirt, a mastectomy patients' rights organization that advocates for optimal surgical outcomes for patients going flat.

2 thoughts on “Finally Flat: Suzie’s Revision Story

  1. Dear Editor,
    I think it’s really important to note that MANY women explant not necessarily only because of the reasons listed in your first paragraph, but very often because of illness caused by their implants, (Breast Implant Illness) and increasingly because of their association with a cancer of the immune system BII-ALCL (Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Carcinoma).
    And not to forget other complications with implants, such as rupture, deflation, and leakage.

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