Seven months ago I decided to have weight loss surgery and I opted for the minimally invasive procedure called Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. I had a double mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction in December of 2014 and one of my biggest concerns following weight loss surgery was how it would affect my reconstructed breasts. Being that DIEP flap uses natural tissue, I had been told that my new breasts would lose or gain weight as I did, just as natural breasts will do. I was quite content with the shape and size of my reconstructed breasts and I wondered how much the weight loss would change my breasts. I didn’t notice much of a difference at all when I lost about fifteen pounds prior to my surgery. As of now, I have lost a total of eighty pounds. While I have noticed my reconstructed breasts aren’t quite as large as they originally were, the change has not been as dramatic as I feared. They have decreased less than a cup in size, I was a full D prior to the weight loss surgery and still wear a D cup now. However, the size has gone from a 44D to a 34D. I think that my reconstructed breasts actually appear even larger than before because my waist line is so much smaller and I can wear more form fitting clothing. One thing I have noticed due to having less fat “cushion” at the top area of my chest, is that I can feel more scar tissue from the mastectomy. This has taken a while to get used to and trying to determine my new normal for what I feel during my monthly self breast exams. I am looking forward to having nipple tattooing done to add color to my reconstructed nipples sometime soon to totally complete my reconstruction.
Interestingly, I feel like it is my journey through mastectomy and reconstruction that gave me the courage to go forward with the weight loss surgery. Once you have had to have your breasts removed, for my case due to my BRCA mutation or for others a cancer diagnosis, it really challenges how you define yourself as a woman. For me, I actually felt more empowered than ever and capable of facing whatever life throws at me. I also found a new desire to make taking care of myself a priority, something I didn’t really do before. I am proud of my decisions and certainly very grateful for how it has all turned out.
I know many women considering DIEP flap are concerned about weight loss after their reconstruction. Overall, even with dramatic weight loss, I can say that my reconstructed breasts are holding up just fine!