My mastectomy. I understand why there
are not a lot of mastectomy photos on the internet. These are
not the most flattering pictures, but they are the photos that
inspired this whole project. You see, when I was initially
diagnosed and decided to go ahead with a double mastectomy my first
instinct was to look up mastectomy photos on the internet to
determine what I would be going through. To my dismay there
was a very poor selection of related photographs, and although there
wasn't a lot to help me out when I wanted to know more, I figured I
could at least do my best to make sure there would be better photos
available for other women in the future.
This is a modified radical mastectomy, which
means that it includes the removal of the entire breast and the
lymphatic-bearing tissue in the armpit but not the pectoral muscles.
It was also bilateral, meaning they removed both breasts.
Something that was interesting to me was that during the surgery,
they removed the lymph node closest to the breast tumor and sent it
to the lab for testing while the surgery was still taking place.
Luckily for me the lymph node came back clean, but if it hadn't they
would have then taken the next lymph node out and sent it for
testing and so on until they ran out of infected lymph nodes (I
In addition to my normal
surgeon a plastic surgeon was called upon to draw
these incision guidelines, which were not only
better situated for future reconstruction efforts
but also placed in such a way as to preserve as much
of my tattoo as they could. I was really
impressed that they made any effort at all to save
the tattoo... in the back of my mind I guess I just
imagined it would be completely ruined.
This photograph makes me a
little sad... this is probably the best that my
breasts have looked in quite some time. Note
to those of you that still have them: apparently a
good photographic theme for breasts is soaped up
while lying on your back under surgical lighting.
And then they just dive right
in with the barbeque forks... okay, I know they're
not really barbeque forks, but doesn't it look like
This is all very well and good
and scientific until I look at pictures like this
one and think "that's my breast that they're pulling
out of that chest". I can look at this photo
and still feel the weight of my breast; I imagine
it's the way some people can still feel a limb after
they've lost it. It gives me the shivers...
This photograph doesn't even
look real to me, until I look at the same bit of
tissue in the photograph below, and the empty pocket
there in my chest that it was obviously removed
This was the healthy breast...
I'm not sure whether or not it's significant or not
but you can see that this tissue is a brilliant red
tone while the cancerous breast (removed further
down the page) is thoroughly infiltrated with more
of a sickly yellow tone... that breast was
significantly larger, though, so perhaps the yellow
is just fatty tissue. I have no idea.
I'm almost afraid to share
this for fear of revealing my truly evil nature, but
one of my favorite things to do with the above photo
is to wait until some jackass on the internet is
pestering me about whether or not I'm a "real live
girl" and what I look like or what I'm wearing and
whether or not I'm single... and then ask him if he
"wants to see a picture of my boob"...
This photograph shows the
direction of the drain tube, somewhat, and also that
the drain tube has a different coating internally
than the one on the external portion. I think
this is one of the reasons they're able to pull the
tube out with little resistance. It was still
an unpleasant procedure, though, considering how far
above the incision area the tubes extended.
Once again it amazes me how
much of this tattoo they were able to preserve...
the one dragon toe missing in this picture is the
only bit that's really noticeably gone.
This photograph really amazes
me... it's incredible to me that my chest could go
through that much trauma and still come together so
evenly in the end. Another thing to note is
the bottom left corner... you can see that the drain
tube is stitched in place where it exits my chest
about three inches below the closed incision.
This photograph and the one
below really show off the color difference between
the two breasts. Like I said before I don't
know if the color difference is related to the
cancer or not, but it is very distinct and
interesting to me. I'm positive that I've
asked my surgeon about this many times and just
forgotten the answer...
This looks so... raw... to me.
And painful. It didn't hurt when I woke up as
much as this photogrpah looks like it would.
It's a good photograph of the left-side drain tube,
though, and how the left incision was beginning to
The final product... both
incisions closed up and nearly all of my dragon
tattoo preserved. The positioning of these
incisions left sort of an extended corner where the
nipples would be, but this was designed for optimum
reconstruction later on... had I decided not to go
with any reconstruction they would have used
differently shaped incisions that would have left the
chest more smooth, I suspect.