Through one of my online BRCA communities, I got in touch with a woman who was about to have a prophylactic mastectomy with my surgeon. I reached out to her to hear about how the nipple delay procedure went. The nipple delay is a procedure (with a really weird name) that my breast surgeon does, and I am pretty sure she is one of the few surgeons in the country who does it. The nipple delay is a surgery performed 1 week before the mastectomy, where my surgeon makes the same incision she will make during the mastectomy, separates the skin from the tissue, changes the blood supply, and gets a nipple biopsy for pathology.
There are two main reasons for this. 1- This way we know before the mastectomy that the nipple (fingers crossed) has no pre-cancerous cells, so I can keep my nipples. 2 – The mastectomy changes the blood supply to the nipple from the pec muscle to the sternum, so doing the delay starts this process a week earlier, making the mastectomy a little less traumatic on the body than it already is.
So… back to earlier this week… I had brunch with my new friend who had the nipple delay about a week ago. I am SO happy I met with her. She is awesome and was super encouraging about my decision and we had a lot in common (in addition to our funky genes). She also let me know more details about the delay, I thought it was a small procedure, but she said it took 2.5 hours. She also made me even more confident in my surgeon when she showed me her incisions, which were barely visible. She was also not very bruised. It also made me realize how lucky I am to live in LA. She flew in to go to my surgeon, has to stay at a hotel for weeks, and then fly back here every week for follow-ups and tissue expansions. It was also lucky we met because now I can come help her with her recovery and drainage tubes, which gross a lot of people out, but not me. 🙂
My new friend had her mastectomy today, so please send good thoughts her way.