I have lost an important conversation starter. I now longer have a nipple-less boob. At least I don’t think I do. I actually don’t know what I have under the sutures and steri-strips and bandages. I have a problem with thinking that procedures are less intensive than they generally turn out to be. I have had this procedure scheduled for the last eight months. Four months ago I went to the appointment and met the tattoo artist. She started having me pick colors and showed me pictures of tattooed nipples. Puzzled, I talked to her about stuff until she began to prepare her supplies.
Me: “Um, don’t I get the nipple put on first?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m having nipple reconstruction with Dr Buescher.”
“You are on the schedule for a tattoo nipple only.”
“That wasn’t the plan! What do I do?”
“We will need to re-schedule you. Come with me.”
She was not happy with me. But I didn’t schedule it that way. The problem is that my plastic surgeon has a four-month waiting list for any procedure. So what should have been February was end of June.
Now I vaguely thought she would just lift up the skin, put a purse suture or two to ridge it up a bit and call it a nipple. Oh, no. I knew I was mistaken when she started getting out the surgical kit and gowning up. What really happens is a flap is cut from above the nipple site and brought down to the marked area and wrapped around and around itself until it takes the appearance of a little bud. Then everything is stitched and steri-striped and bandaged.
This is a picture I found of the basic procedure although the raw nipple on the lower left doesn’t look like mine. This one looks plain weird. The lower right is after it has healed and the tattoo process is starting.
I was awake for the procedure. Five 10 ml syringes of lidocaine are injected into the areas around the donor site/nipple site. Then she began to cut deeply into my breast with the scalpel. I could feel blood running down my abdomen. I got woozy when I saw the pail full of bloody gauze. It didn’t hurt at all, but it was the idea that I could tell a strip of me was hanging off my body and my body fluids were leaking out. I was faintly horrified the entire time, although my plastic surgeon is such a talker that she kept me pretty distracted. I was forced to look at it during my post procedure instructions. A white tightly closed button-bud sat on my boob with sutures all around and above, covered by steri-strips. I had to learn how to bandage it a certain way. Dr Buescher is a perfectionist, and all her patients will be perfectionists too.
Apparently I was to go home after this and rest due to bleeding issues. Since I didn’t know, I didn’t schedule myself off and it was critical that I go as we were short-staffed. Sixteen hours later I drove home numbly at 4 am. One of the tougher on call day/nights I have had in a long time. Blood had soaked through my bandages and bra. I wish someone would have told me to take the day off!
Today I took my first authorized shower and I touched it. Weird. There was no give to it. It was hard as a pebble. Wow. Then my quirky mind saw it: My nipple has eyelashes and is winking at me…..