September 18, 2003 at 9:03 PM CDT - Updated June 23 at 9:20 PM
Breast Reconstructive Surgery By: Wendy Ray
Reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients is a long process
, but it's one a Heartland woman decided to go through.
We first introduced you to Susan Wessel in July. Susan had breast cancer last year, a modified radical mastectomy took care of it, but the cancer she had most likely affects both breasts. She did her research and decided on having her other breast removed for preventative reasons, and then chose reconstructive surgery. Susan feels good, but she's still several weeks away from being finished with doctors appointments and another surgery.
Nearly two months after going through breast reconstructive surgery Susan is still in the first stage of the process. She admits it hasn't been bad. "I have a valve on each side underneath my skin, sometimes that bothers me, but other than that I haven't had any problems," Susan says. "What we'll do is isolate the valve with a tiny needle stick," plastic surgeon Dr. David Deisher says. The valves are part of the expanders Dr. Deisher implanted into Susan's chest in July. Susan goes to the doctor once a week to get saline injected into the expanders. She's been going there for a few weeks. "It just depends on how much the doctor feels like the skin has stretched from week to week how much he puts in. It's like a shot, he sticks it in and fills it with saline solution," Susan says. "We add around two ounces of fluid and we do this until they are fully inflated," Dr. Deisher adds. The right side of Susan's chest has been harder to do, that's the side she had cancer and radiation on. The other breast, which she had removed for preventative reasons, has been easier. "Some people feel tightness or pressure, some don't feel it at all," Dr. Deisher says. Susan just feels a little bit of pressure, but it goes away. She still has around a month of injections left to go, but she doesn't mind. Susan's happy she's going through the process. "I know there are things that could happen and could go wrong but that's true in any case," she says.
Again, the injections are part of the first stage of reconstructive surgery. Once her injections are complete her expanders will have to adjust for around a month, then Susan will start the second stage. During the second stage she'll go through an outpatient procedure to have her expanders taken out and permanent implants put in.
We'll continue to follow Susan through the process.