“I had a TRAM reconstruction after right sided mastectomy. I developed seromas in my abdominal site that had to be drained every month for six months. After three months they tried putting in a new drain but it got infected almost right away and I was on antibiotics for two weeks. Then three months later they admitted me to hospital and opened up the abdominal donor site and apparently the abdomen was "a mess" as the mesh that the doctor used to strengthen my abdominal wall had not integrated into the surrounding tissue and actually broke down into fragments that all had to be removed during a long surgery.
Once that issue was cleared up and my abdomen healed all was well. My left breast, which was lifted and reduced, healed very well and looks fantastic. The reconstructed breast also healed well and both breasts match and look like the "real" thing. I did have a nipple constructed using the origami technique. This lost its profile after a year. I then got the plastic surgeon to inject it with restylane. This lasted a couple of years but then it also flattened out and I was at the point after a few years where I didn't really want to have anymore interventions and ceased to care about having "one headlight" as my husband says. I found a nipple cover at a lingerie store which does the trick when I have on thin tops.
I would say that beside the side effects of the mesh in my abdomen, the other most disconcerting issue was loss of sensation in my entire trunk. It's very difficult emotionally waking up to the reality of having your entire torso, which used to be sensitive to the touch, to be completely numb. I only had sensation in one breast and then my right breast and entire torso down to my pubic area felt dead to me. That sounds harsh but it took me quite awhile to not be saddened by that loss of sensation. It definitely has an impact on your sex life. When you run your own hand over your tummy and not really have a sense of where your hand is if you're not looking...that was hard. It has taken years to regain sensation in that area despite being told it might only be five years. It's now 12 years since my surgery and I can feel most of my torso except for a 4" circumference around my umbilicus. And of course no sensation in my reconstructed breast, which some women have said they regained. Not me.
I was very happy to wake up from surgery with two breasts that matched, were reduced and lifted after losing some of that youthfulness, and I had a tight and flat tummy. Despite not being over-weight, I still had a post baby tummy so it was very cool to wear tight jeans and tight tees again after all these years. If I could promise a woman that she wouldn't have the issues with seromas that I had, I would highly recommend immediate reconstruction after a mastectomy. I actually felt quite sexy despite losing the sensation in that one breast, just in terms of my outside appearance. I also loved having my own tissue in my new breast...it really feels just like a "real" breast with breast tissue. It moves like the other one and if I lose weight so does my chest, and if I gain weight so do my breasts. They look very natural.
I think it's really important, especially if you love the touch of your hand or your lovers touch to know that there is an entire erogenous zone from your neck to your pubic area that is numb for many years to come. I think there are more advanced surgeries for woman who need a mastectomy and want reconstruction that don't result in the cutting of so many nerves in your abdomen. I would seek out those practitioners who are doing that kind of surgery. I loved using my own tissue as opposed to having a foreign body inside me, but I think the loss of sensation to your torso is a big price to pay for many years.”