My mastectomy scars are thick across the middle of my breasts. They turn upward diagonally towards my armpits. Over the years, the scars have become tighter than the skin around it. After weeks of being sick and a loss of appetite, I have shed seven pounds. I’ve started to notice the tightness of those scars. I can glance down at my chest and see the difference. The scars create a small dip in the breasts, like a river that divides a canyon.
During my reconstruction process, I heard of a woman who was going into her plastic surgeon for fat grafting (also called lipofilling). I was intrigued and had to find out more. I hadn’t heard of this breast reconstruction technique.
Fat tissue is removed from other parts of your body (such as your thighs, butt, and stomach) via liposuction. That tissue is then processed into a liquid and injected into the breast area. It helps to fix minor imperfections – like the shape and balance of the breasts. In the future, they may be able to reconstruct a whole breast using this technique.
After losing those added pounds, I thought I would begin to look into this reconstruction technique. I may not proceed in that direction, but having the knowledge is power. I took to the phone to call my sister. I remembered during her implant surgery, she had this performed.
My sister explained that the technique was pretty easy. She had the fat taken from her “love handles.” The pain level can range from minimal to moderate; a week of soreness was all my sister experienced.
She can still feel the pull of the scars from where they removed the fat tissue a year after the procedure. Since she had the procedure completed at the same time of her implant surgery, her recovery time was a little longer – four to six weeks. If it was a solo procedure, she was told her recovery time would only be about two weeks.
With every surgery there is a risk. The transplanted fat tissue can be absorbed by the body, result in cysts at the injection site, or it can die off which can result in calcifications. Studies have noted that lipofilling does not increase your chance of breast recurrence; however, the presence of calcifications and cysts can be mistaken for cancer.
Every medical procedure should be weighed. Look at the advantages, disadvantages, and uncertainties. Use those to help form your own decision. I may never look into this technique further since I’m attempting to embrace my scars, but at least I know more about it to formulate a decision later in life.
Angela Banker is a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a sister; she is also a young survivor, a caregiver, a supporter, and a fighter. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and found herself empowered to share her story to raise awareness about breast cancer. Angela participates in Relay For Life, started the Sisters Beating Breast Cancer page to inspire others, and continues to "fight like a girl" with the hope that her daughter will never have to hear the dreaded words, "You have cancer."