In 2009, I was diagnosed with early stage cancer in one breast after a routine mammogram. Because of the location of the tumor and micro-calcifications, a mastectomy was recommended. Regardless of what the rational side of my brain told me about being lucky that the cancer was found so early, the emotional impact of being faced with losing a breast was, for me, as bad or worse than the thought of facing the cancer. Discussion with my breast surgeon, Dr. Julie Margenthaler, indicated that reconstructive surgery could begin at the same time that the mastectomy was performed. She referred me to Dr. Terrence Myckatyn at West County Plastic Surgeons. I knew Dr. Margenthaler’s reputation, and I felt that I could have confidence in the plastic surgeon she recommended.
In the initial consultation, Dr. Myckatyn explained the reconstruction process from beginning to end. He also showed me a video to provide a visual example of what the process would look like as it progressed. I felt comfortable talking with him, and he took time to answer all my questions, including what to expect after the initial surgery. In addition, he outlined the various possibilities and timelines related to the process, depending on the type of cancer treatments needed. It was about two weeks from the initial consultation to the first surgery, which consisted of the mastectomy and tissue expander implant. I am sure everyone’s experience is different, but personally, as a small-chested woman, I never really felt like I lost anything. It was more like the original “stuffing” had been replaced and flattened down a bit.
I was fortunate not to need radiation or chemotherapy, so the reconstructive process proceeded without delay. During the next couple of months, I saw Emily Weinhaus, PA-C, every other week to fill out the chest expander in preparation for the permanent implant. Emily was always cheerful and answered my myriad of questions without making me feel rushed or hurried. She also provided good tips on exercises to help my range of motion on the side where the surgery had been performed.
Just over three months after the initial cancer surgery, I had the permanent silicone reconstruction implant put in, along with an implant in the other breast to balance the two sides. After having so much fear of how I would look after a mastectomy, I was amazed when I first saw the final results. I am extremely happy with how things turned out; I can even wear some clothes that I couldn’t fill out in the past. The implants feel very natural to me, well worth the minimal soreness I felt after the surgery. Over the next few months, I will have the nipple and areola constructed on the new breast, and I feel confident about the procedure.
This plastic surgery has made all the difference in my emotional outlook for the future. I am very grateful to Dr. Myckatyn, Emily Weinhaus and the whole staff at West County Plastic Surgeons. In addition to providing excellent medical care, they are easy to talk with, cheerful, caring and patient. They explain things thoroughly and are always willing to answer questions. The office setting is quiet and calming, which is helpful to someone going through an anxious time. I would highly recommend them to anyone in my situation.