Stephanie’s DIEP Flap Surgery Experience
My name is Stephanie Chandler and I’m from Austin, Texas but I’ve lived in San Antonio for about 10 years now.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2018 and while that diagnosis is really hard for anyone to accept, from the very beginning I was really blessed with a great team of doctors. My OBGYN referred me to an oncologist who then referred me to Dr. Pisano here at PRMA.
Having this team of doctors, I believe was the key to my successful outcome. I decided very early on that I wanted to go ahead and have a double mastectomy. I have a history of breast cancer in my family and so I didn’t want to take any chances with getting cancer on the other side at a later time. That turned out to be a good decision for me because when they did the surgery they did find some abnormal cells in my healthy side.
When I first visited with Dr. Pisano, I thought that my only choice for reconstruction was to get implants and I was not excited about that idea because my mom had that and she had had a lot of trouble with hers. I was so relieved to find out that there were a lot of options now for reconstruction. I decided to go with immediate reconstruction with using the DIEP flap procedure. I also decided that I did not want to do the nipple sparing procedure. Dr. Pisano explained both to me and I was a candidate to do nipple sparing, but again I wanted to remove as much tissue as possible just for my own peace of mind for later on and Dr. Pisano and his team were supportive in that decision for me.
I had my surgery December 2018. I had a lot of anxiety and fear. I was very nervous but Dr. Pisano and Kathleen were both really helpful prior to my surgery. They gave me a lot of reassurance and their confidence really gave me confidence prior to surgery. I had a goal…I had told Kathleen that I didn’t want to use any narcotic pain relievers. She encouraged me to fill the prescription anyway, but I’m happy to say that I met my goal and I never used any of the narcotics.
From the time I woke up my pain was very tolerable. I was up the next morning and I was walking laps around the halls in no time at all. Once I got home I was able to do most of my normal activities and I only ever took regular Tylenol.
So far I have referred one friend to PRMA. I will shout my praises of PRMA from the rooftops and the reason why is after my surgery which lasted about eight hours I woke up and I spent a little bit of time with my family but about nine o’clock that night one of the nurses (which by the way the nurses at Methodist are amazing too) noticed some discoloration on my left side. She sent a picture to Dr. Pisano who said that he needed to take me back into surgery right away.
I was not really happy about that decision. I didn’t want to go back into surgery even though I knew it was necessary. The on-call doctor met me and they whisked me into surgery, but do you know what, after spending all day in surgery with me, Dr. Pisano came back to the hospital and worked with the on-call surgeon to do my surgery. That is a doctor who’s really dedicated to his patients and his work.
My revision surgery went well, I’m really happy with the results especially in the abdominal area. I decided not to have nipples rebuilt but to go with the 3D tattooing. My one hesitation with that though is I was not real excited about having to go off site to a tattoo place to get that done.
But PRMA met that need as well and they now do that in-house and Crystal did a really amazing job
on my tattoos. I will say that PRMA takes care of their patients from the first visit until the touch-ups on the tattoos.
But the best part is they not only take care of our physical needs but they are there to support us through the entire process. Cancer really sucks but when you have to deal with it having a team of doctors with PRMA on your team will help you get to victory!
When I first visited with Dr. Pisano, I thought that my only choice for reconstruction was to get implants and I was not excited about that idea because my mom had that and she had had a lot of trouble with hers. I was so relieved to find out that there were a lot of options now for reconstruction. I decided to go with immediate reconstruction with using the DIEP flap procedure.
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