Deanna’s Discoveries: Thinking about having your implants removed?  Read this first.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The warning from the FDA linking breast implants to the development of some types of cancer has shaken much of the breast cancer community. 

The warning last month told us that a tiny minority of women are developing cancer in the tissue around their implants.  While the odds are very small, it’s not a risk I can live with, so I’ve decided to have the implants removed.

On Monday, I wrote about a growing community of breast cancer survivors who are choosing a procedure called aesthetic flat closure.  And that is the procedure I’m now considering.

My husband finds it hard to believe that I’m contemplating having another surgery. After my last operation, I told him God willing, I’d never go under the knife again.  I’ve had breast cancer twice and lots of surgery including a double mastectomy, reconstruction, and then finally a third operation to remove a second breast tumor.  But the FDA warning now has me contemplating another surgery, removal of my implants.

If I do, I would join a community of women who are unapologetically flat by choice.  A non-profit called Not Putting on a Shirt advocates a procedure called aesthetic flat closure.  The founder of the organization, Kimberly Bowles argues there are options other than reconstruction for women who want the appearance of having breasts. 

“There’s always the option for external prosthetics,” said Bowles. “That’s something a lot of women don’t necessarily think about because a lot of surgeons don’t necessarily mention it as an option.”

And that’s why I made a visit to Thelma’s Boutique, a Rochester store for breast cancer survivors owned by a breast cancer survivor, Debi Cordovana.

“As a fitter, it’s very emotional for me because women come in and they’re very dour and quiet,” Cordovana said getting teary-eyed.  “And I’ll fit them and I’ll have them look into the mirror and you just see the sadness change.”

That’s the power of knowing you have options.  Cordovana has a range of prostheses from memory foam to medical grade silicone.

The silicone has a surprisingly natural shape and feel and fits into the pockets of a mastectomy bra.  And while some women have reservations about the weight of a silicone prosthetic, Cordavana says it’s about having the right bra to support it.

She has custom options fit the exact contours of your chest wall.  For Cordovana, helping women find what is right for them is a mission.

It’s important to make an appointment with Cordovana for a personal fitting to get the right prosthesis and the right bra.  No matter where you are on your breast cancer journey, it’s so important to get valuable information from other survivors.  The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester is a fantastic resource.

There are also Facebook groups specifically for women who have chosen not to have breast reconstruction, such as Flat Closure Now, Flatties Unite, and Fabulously Flat.  And if you have implants and are considering having them removed, Bowles recommends the book, Busting Free by Amanda Savage Brown.

Knowledge is power is more than a cliché. Before making any decision, embrace your power; do you research, and make the best choice for you.

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