"Nipple Reconstruction at the Royal Free"

About: Royal Free Hospital / Plastic surgery

(as the patient),

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2008. After two surgeries at my local hospital to clear the cancer I had a third, a mastectomy. The word still horrifies me and I can honestly say that although the surgeon and his team undoubtedly followed all the correct guidelines and did their best clinically for me I was left feeling less than a woman. I had an immediate LD reconstruction and despite trying to be very grateful and happy that I had "something" there, I hated it, not least because the reconstruction leapt and twitched and felt hard to the touch.

As time went on I hated it more and I could not think of it as anything other than an implant wrapped in a bit of my back muscle. I dreaded seeing it when I washed or undressed, I felt sick when I glimpsed the ugly, nipple -less lump. It was very difficult to say this as the surgeon kept telling me what a great result I'd had and it took a long time, over a year before I spoke up to say how unhappy I was. I still feel I let him down because I know he had tried to do his best for me.

I was referred to the Royal Free at the beginning of this year for revision, I had the LD flap freed up, the leaping stopped and I was able to sleep more comfortably for the first time since the mastectomy. However, I was still unable to think of the reconstruction as a breast until very recently when I had nipple reconstruction. Although I am still very newly post op I am delighted and feel more normal again. I can't wait to be finished!

I am deeply moved by the thoughtfulness of the plastic surgeons Ibbi and Yasmeen: they made me feel that they were genuinely concerned about the result and that my satisfaction was important. I am indebted to them and the nursing team, especially Thelma.

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