Surgery is a coming!

My apologies in advance for the pretty much inevitable fact that 99.2% of my blogging from now on up until August 11th is going to be related to my upcoming top surgery. You have been forewarned. I’ve been waiting for this for so.long. For some time there, it felt unattainable. Every time I’d get close, something would come along to thwart my progress. But this time around and with all of the support I’ve received from my friends and loved ones to make this happen? No thwarting! It’s happening! Fo’ real real and not fo’ in my head play play!

So, throughout this whole enthused about surgery shindig, I haven’t ever really disclosed the details of the specific procedure I’m bound for - the “double incision mastectomy”. With this method, incisions are made horizontally across each breast below the nipple:

The skin is then peeled back so that the mammary glands and fatty tissue can be removed with a scalpel. scrape scrape scrape. Once the breast tissue has been scooped out, the excess chest skin is trimmed and the incisions closed, leaving two scars just below the line of the pectoral muscles. Best part? My nipples will be completely removed, snipped to a smaller size, and then grafted back onto my chest.

For the first little bit after surgery I’ll have “drains” consisting of long tubing exit my body through a small incision hole under each armpit, which will be attached to a small plastic bulb on either side:

The bulbs are there so to collect excess blood and fluids. They dangle there for several days to a week, depending on how much fluid continues to drain, which my mom will be on standby to help with (fun for her!).

The surgery itself should take about 4 hours and it is done under general anesthesia. There are usually at least two post-surgical follow-up visits to remove drains and sutures (usually within the first week or so), and to check the overall healing progress of the chest. A binder is usually worn for one to three weeks to aid in healing, but I’m not sure if this local surgeon I’ll be going to requires this… I need to ask.

Anyhoo, I’ll be very careful to give my body all the room it needs to heal properly so I don’t end up increasing the risk of scarring and complications. For this reason, I chose August 11th since I’ll be all finished with summer research by then and back from presenting in Berkeley. And this date is right before Fall classes start. So no bicycling or heavy-lifting for me!

According to Hudson’s FTM Resource Guide, potential cons of this particular method include prominent scars on the chest, loss of nipple sensation, tissue death in nipple grafts, uneven nipple placement, “dog ears” under armpits, puckering along scars, numbness in armpits, and usual surgery risks.

Which reminds me. I should for sure ask my surgeon if revisions are included in her fee, which they should be. Just in case.

If you’re interested, here’s a graphic video of this surgery being performed by Dr. Daniel Medalie in Cleveland, Ohio. He narrates the procedure throughout the entire surgery. To be honest, I haven’t built up the nerve to watch it… yet. I probably shouldn’t until post-surgery.

Here are a couple pictures of friends of mine who have had double mastectomy top surgery procedures:

So pumped.


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