No, it’s not an acronym
A Foob is a term we in the Breast Cancer community use for our new fake boobs.
These Foobs have taken the place of boobs that tried to kill us.
By definition. foobs no longer can produce breast milk, like those who have their birth boobs.
No one really talks about Foobs outside of the breast cancer community, and that’s going to change. I’ve had a lot of people who’ve never had breast cancer personally ask me what a foob is, and I’m committed to making sure this terminology becomes more of a norm. I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that I have fake boobs. No one (especially those who are battling breast cancer) should. Getting foobs is a huge, life-altering decision we have no choice but to commit to.
When I use the term Foob, I mean anyone who has been touched by breast cancer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a lumpectomy or mastectomy, had reconstruction, or remained flat. To me, the term Foob does not and should not exclude any individual who has had to endure the challenges that come with breast cancer.
Whichever the style of Foob one chooses, remember they’re the new gal pal crew to someone who has just gone through hell and back. Love them just like all the others out there!
For breast cancer survivors, the decision to undergo breast surgery is a courageous step towards regaining control of their health and well-being.
Following a mastectomy/lumpectomy, survivors may opt for breast reconstruction for several different reasons. There are several different types of breast reconstruction to choose from, each with its unique benefits and considerations.
Different options that are available to patients include: implants like saline or silicone, autologous tissue reconstruction also known as a “flap” procedure, and aesthetic flat closure.
Choosing the right type of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is a deeply personal decision because this individual has to amputate a part of their body to rid a tumor that was never invited to the party.
Which Foob is for you?
When I was given the choice of choosing between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy, it was a very quick and easy decision for me. I mean i wanted a mastectomy even before I got cancer, so of course I was going to choose that option.
Despite the statistics having similar statistics of reoccurrence for my particular diagnosis, I wanted to get these ticking time bombs off my chest – literally.
I can’t stress enough how crucial it is for breast cancer survivors to consult with their healthcare team, including a plastic surgeon, to discuss their options and preferences.
What may be the best choice for one may differ for another.
this blog post should in no way substitute for medical advice, but instead help to give you more comfort in the choice that’s best suited for you! The goal is to help breast cancer survivors regain confidence, feel comfortable in their bodies, and move forward on their road to recovery.
Introducing Storm & Rogue
As we continue with this post, I would formally like for you to meet my own foobs! Yes, I named my foobs and I named them after superheroes.
My non-tumor right side has been honored with the name of Storm, and in the left, Rogue; in honor of the tumor trying to suck the life out of me! Both weighing in at a whopping 390ccs and sporting their warrior gear of radiation tattoos with pride.
These foobs are brought to you by a unilateral, modified radical mastectomy that’s under the muscle with axillary lymph node dissection and fat grafting from both of my inner thighs. Thanks to the very talented surgeons at Memorial Sloan Kettering: Dr. Jonas Nelson and Dr. Lisa Scalfani.
Lumpectomy vs Mastectomy
A mastectomy and a lumpectomy are two different surgical procedures used to treat breast cancer.
However, a lumpectomy is technically a form of a mastectomy as it’s also referred to as breast-conserving surgery or partial mastectomy.
When you speak to your medical team, they’ll advise you on which option would be best suited for your specific diagnosis as there’s a number of factors that are involved: the size/location of the tumor, the stage and type of cancer, the patient’s preference/medical history, and finally if there’s any additional follow-up treatment scheduled for after surgery.
Ultimately, the decision is solely up to the patient and should be made in close communication with their healthcare team.Remember, your healthcare team is there to support you every step of the way and help guide you to the best decision!
For me, opting for a mastectomy was two-fold.
I wanted everything gone. Plain and simple. I didn’t care about the statistics because mentally I knew that if I left anything behind, I’d go nuts worrying about whether or not my surgeon got it all. Even though I had full confidence in my surgeon, cancer is a fickle little thing and going through it once was more than enough times for me.
I had also been saying for years on how I wanted them gone prior to my diagnosis and now was the time I had to put my money where my mouth is. Again, this is my personal choice. I fully understood the recovery implications of my decision and how my future might look having done a bigger surgery with the mastectomy.
Shopping for Foobs
Now that we’ve gone over the more basic background of the process of starting the decision of picking out your foobs, let’s get into my favorite topic of discussion – all the different kinds of foobs out there!
Saline implants consist of a silicone shell that’s filled with sterile saline and are typically filled after they have been placed in the chest. These type of implants offer the ability to have adjustments made after surgery to achieve the desired size and symmetry. However, some find that saline implants feel less natural compared to silicone implants.
Silicone implants are filled with silicone gel, which closely mimics the feel of natural breast tissue. Many prefer silicone implants because of their realistic texture and appearance. They come in various shapes, including round and teardrop, to cater to different body types and personal preferences. Although it’s worth noting that silicone implants may require a larger incision compared to saline implants.
Over/Under the Muscle
This is where the surgeon places the implant either under or on top of the chest muscle (Pectorals). Under the muscle implants may need more recovery time because your chest muscle has been manipulated. However, not everyone is a candidate for an implant over the muscle. The determination of this option may often need to be finalized during the mastectomy.
Autologous Tissue Reconstruction "Flap Procedure"
In this procedure skin, fat, and sometimes muscle from another place on your body is used to form a breast shape. The tissue or “flap” usually comes from areas like: under the arms, the back, the belly, the buttocks, the thighs. It’s important to know that reconstruction procedures require plastic surgeons who are trained in microsurgery. Depending on the type of flap reconstruction, a plastic surgeon may have to attach the tiny blood vessels in the tissue flap to the vessels in the chest area — so the flap can get the blood supply it needs.
A common type of abdominal wall flap procedure. The deep inferior epigastric perforator flap is named for the blood vessel that runs through the abdominal muscle. Surgery requires making a small incision in the layer of tissue covering the abdominal muscle so they can take the blood vessels that travel within the muscle.
A less common type of abdominal wall flap procedure. The superficial inferior epigastric artery flap is named for the blood vessel that runs above the muscle layer and just under the skin in the lower abdomen and is considered a muscle-sparing type of flap.
One of the various types of abdominal wall flap procedures. The transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap is named for the muscle in the lower abdomen between the waist and pubic bone. With this type of surgery, a flap of skin, fat, and all or part of the underlying rectus abdominus (also known as the six-pack abs) muscle are used to reconstruct the breast. However, this type of surgery involves cutting through muscle, leading to muscle weakness and muscle compensation can occur.
Similar to the TRAM flap, this type of surgery involves the latissimus dorsi muscle located along your back that’s responsible for a numerous amount of movements your body is capable of. Because the flap contains a significant amount of muscle, a latissimus dorsi flap is considered a muscle-transfer type of flap. Surgeons will have to rotate the muscle from the back to the front of the body in order to form a foob and often place an implant under the flap because it is not as thick as other flaps. The blood vessels remain connected for both these procedures, so there’s no need for microsurgery to be involved.
These specific kind of procedures may be good options for people who are not good candidates for other flap surgeries. Both flaps rely on removing tissue from your thigh(s). profunda artery perforator, a blood vessel that runs through the thigh where the flap comes from the back of the upper thigh and lateral thigh perforator, a blood vessel that runs along the outer thigh where the flap comes from the upper outer thigh.
Similar to a PAP or LTP flap this procedure requires the surgeon to make an incision in the upper thigh around the groin area, and take skin, fat, blood vessels, and part of the gracilis muscle to reconstruct the breast. Typically, this kind of procedure is best situated for patients that might have small- or medium-sized breasts and don’t want to increase their size with reconstruction.
This is a pretty new technique where surgeons use liposuction from your thighs, abs, or butt, and transfer the fat to your breast.
Aesthetic Flat Closure
This type of reconstruction is often referred to as post-mastectomy chest wall reconstruction and is currently considered to be the gold standard for going flat. Meaning to not have a secondary surgery like implants or a flap surgery to physically reconstruct a breast.
During this type of procedure the surgeon removes skin, fat, and/or excess tissue, then tightens and smooths out the remaining tissue to create a flat chest wall contour. Sometimes after immediate flat closure, some people need a second procedure to minimize a scooped-out look or to smooth out any divots or indentations.
Although breast surgeons can typically perform an aesthetic flat closure, most tend have a plastic surgeon to perform the surgery due to the requirement of proficiency with certain surgical techniques.
If you’re interested in learning more about remaining flat, I highly recommend checking out the non-profit called Not Putting On A Shirt!
Oncoplastic reconstruction after lumpectomy
If you’re a candidate for receiving a lumpectomy (or partial mastectomy) you may want to speak with your team about this option. Although remember that the standard care of treatment for breast cancer following a lumpectomy is with radiation.
In this type of surgery, surgeons will use the techniques of breast reduction or breast lift at the same time as the lumpectomy. The breast reduction or breast lift tends to help fill in the missing portion of your breast that’s created by the lumpectomy and improves the overall shape of your breast. You may also opt for a breast reduction or lift on the other breast for symmetry.
The choice is yours
Ultimately, the decision between a mastectomy and a lumpectomy; implant, flap or flat, should be made in close consultation with your healthcare team, including your surgeon, plastic surgeon and oncologist.
Remember that your team is there to help provide you with detailed information about your specific situation and help you make the choice that aligns best with your medical needs and importantly, your personal preferences.
There are SO many options out there for your choose for your specific diagnosis, way more than I’ve outlined here. Your healthcare team is there to support you every step of the way, and I cannot encourage people enough to speak up and ask as many questions as they need to.
You may feel like you’re asking a million questions and you might be, but this is your body, you only get one of them. You need to live in it for the rest of your life, and the way that you’ve been kicking butt – it’s going to be a long one!