I've had back problems for a couple years - I get...
Visually, I don't think they're bad looking. I still have fullness in my upper chest and my nipples point forward still (kind of down and forward, but you can still see regular skin well under my areola). I think part of the problem is that they're so full and dense - they're fricken heavy! If I lean forward and lift one in my hand, it feels like it's several pounds.
I hadn't really seriously considered breast reduction surgery until last year, when an impatient male doctor told me "the only thing that's going to fix your back is cutting those things off". I didn't appreciate his comment at all, but it did get me thinking. And thinking... and thinking some more.
I finally bit the bullet and set up a couple of consults. I'm one of those people who once I make a decision I want to go through with it as quickly as possible, so I'm likely to go with whichever doctor has the shortest wait time (well, and can work with my insurance company). Not that there are a lot of options in my area to begin with. Here's to hoping I have new boobies for summer :)
I'm also going to be renewing my efforts to lose some more weight. Ideally, I'll be under a BMI of 30 for my consults.
So I'm back to trying to lose weight (down two...
My doctor gave me a referral to a physical therapist but they don't have any openings until June - like that's going to do me any good now? So I went out of network and made a chiropractor appointment for Monday afternoon. Hopefully they'll be able to do something for me since my usual methods (ice, heat, massage, stretching, and medication) aren't working. My back has been in spasm for over a week now and the constant pain is just about driving me insane.
I'm pretty set on surgery at this point because I just don't want to have to deal with this kind of pain ever again. Making appointments and getting insurance approval take time though so hopefully the chiro can give me some relief in the meantime.
I went to my initial consult this morning. I'd...
No, really, she was very professional and was willing to answer any of my questions - I didn't really have any that she didn't answer as part of her standard spiel - she uses the anchor incision, uses drains that are removed 2-3 days post op, I'd go home the same day as the surgery, I could go back to office work after about ten days, but should refrain from military training for more like 6 weeks. She showed me a five hundred cc implant and said that that's the approximate amount of tissue that insurance usually requires to be removed, and we both agreed that I had that to spare, easy. She also confirmed what I suspected - that I have very dense, heavy breast tissue, and am not just overloaded with fat in my top half. She also said I have very nice skin and should heal very well.
I looked at a bunch of her before and after photos, and they all looked like boobs to me, and not frankentitties, so I'm pretty comfortable going forward. Now it's just a matter of the office forwarding the necessary paperwork and photos to the insurance company, and waiting to see if I'm approved. They said that usually takes four to six weeks, so back to waiting I go.
In the meantime I'm working with a chiropractor and a personal trainer, so lets see if I can get myself in the best possible shape - whether for surgery, or for life in general if the insurance company decides I should do without it.
OMG I think this is really happening O.O
Okay, deep breaths.
My insurance says that they'll cover 85% - the surgeon is a participating provider, which is good news for me, otherwise it'd only be 65%. My 15% copay looks like it'll be about $1200 - and the office said they collect that at the pre-op appt.
So I'm taking in a copy of my authorization to the clinic today and maybe scheduling my surgery. Holy sh*t.
Now if I can just make it that long without having a nervous breakdown...
Scheduled for July, that is.
So... not the 23rd.
For realz, though. No backsies this time.
Today I had my pre-op. Got my special soap that I have to wash myself with in the morning, and prescriptions for antibiotics and percocet (filled them at Walgreens for $10 total - generic. I'm too broke to pay $100+ for name brand pain meds).
The whole thing was kind of interesting for me. We didn't talk about what size I want to be, or anything like that. They took my blood and the surgeon said that she thinks she's going to get me down to about a D cup (and the goal is to take most of the tissue away from the bottom and sides of my breasts, and keep the fullness in front and on top). Which is all fine and good, if that's what she thinks is realistically attainable (I just want them to look decent and not throw my back out anymore), I just thought it was interesting that there wasn't any input requested from me. Maybe we'll talk about it a little bit tomorrow when she's marking me up for surgery. Really, I'm not too concerned about what bra size I'm going to be - I just want to be able to shop in normal stores, not have ridiculous back pain, and be able to move around without my boobs running into my face or my elbows. Anywhere from a C cup to a DD would be totally acceptable, really. Even a DD would be something like six cup sizes smaller than what I am now, and I'm not exactly a skinny mini who would look proportionate with tiny titties. I think I might mention that if she errs, it should be on the small side rather than the large side, but for the most part I think I'll defer to my surgeon's judgement on what looks right on my frame. In any case, she has to take at least 500g from each side in order to satisfy insurance, so I'm going to be losing more than a pound per boob no matter what.
And omg I'm nervous. I tend to eat when I get emotional too, and I'm not allowed to have anything else tonight. I can't take anything to help me sleep either, so I don't know how much I'm going to get when I'm feeling this jittery. Oh well, I'm sure I'll catch up on any sleep I miss tonight over the rest of the week.
The plan for the procedure is the standard anchor incision method, keeping the nipple attached to a pedicle (no free nipple graft). My doctor said that she will be using drains, and I'm supposed to get them out Friday afternoon (so no showering between Tuesday and Friday, ick. My mom promises that she'll wash my hair for me at least once, tho). My second post-op appointment is also already scheduled for next Monday, and I should be getting my stitches out then, assuming everything goes to plan.
Wish me luck!
Biggest concerns going in...
On the whole, I'm actually super excited. My boobs have been pretty much the only part of my body that I've ever really, really disliked. The rest of me responds well to diet and exercise, and is reasonably shapely, but even at my thinnest my boobs were out there and in the way. I am so super excited to have small(er), perky boobs, with areola that are smaller than pancakes. I'm excited to be able to wear bras from normal stores, and not having to pick from the three or four options that Nordstroms carry in my size. I'm excited to be able to wear clothes that I've previously avoided - namely, anything that emphasizes my chest.
But I'm nervous, too. I'm worried that they'll still be too big, but I'm also worried they'll be too small. I'm worried that I'll get an infection and have to have secondary surgeries (hopefully the antibiotics I've already picked up from the pharmacy will prevent that). I'm worried that the recovery will be hard and painful and longer than I'm expecting. I'm worried that my dog is going to jump on my chest when I'm back at home (she likes to beg with her paws on my chest and her head in my face when I'm in bed). I'm worried that dealing with drains, and getting them and my stitches removed. And I'm scared about general anesthesia.
But it's all going to be okay. It is. I'm telling myself that.
Just got home
My mom drove me home. Love my mom. She's taking good care of me.
I saw myself in the mirror and I look so much smaller! Yay :) And it feels like it's easier to breathe without all that weight on my chest, even if I am wrapped up tight in a bandage.
Am going to take a nap now.
2nd day post-op.
I'm not in any pain at all right now, and I haven't taken any pain meds yet this morning, so yay! I am still wearing the anti-nausea patch they gave me, but other than that no meds since last night. Today was also the first day that I managed my drain tubes without help.
I talked to the surgeon last night (she called to check up on me) and she said she removed about 550 grams on each side - I can definitely feel the difference, both in my back and in how much easier it is to breathe without those extra pounds of weight on my chest.
All in all, so far so good.
3rd day, and a description of operation day.
So as far as the operation went:
I woke up about 6am, super nervous. I took a shower with the special antibacterial soap that they gave me (they gave me two packets, one for in the shower, and one to wear like a lotion after I got out). Then I puttered around the house trying to distract myself until my mom was ready to take me to the surgery center. I had to be there at 9:30, and we got there about 10 minutes early.
I was actually quite glad to be at an outpatient surgery center instead of in a hospital, since I think it lowers the risk of being exposed to the more noxious diseases and bacteria that you find in hospitals (a lot of hospitals in Alaska have had issues with MRSA, for instance).
They called me and my mom back at about 9:30 and I filled out a few more forms and consent sheets, then they had me get changed. The gave me a paper gown that opened in the back, then a thin cloth robe that opened in the front, and I also had to wear compression socks with little booties over those. (I told my mom I was bringing sexy back, lol). I got to keep my underwear on, which was nice for two reasons - first, I was on my period and didn't have to worry about bleeding on stuff, and second, it meant that they weren't planning on using a catheter on me.
Almost as soon as I got into the pre-op waiting area, they put me on an IV with an antibiotic. It stung a little when the antibiotic first started flowing, but that went away pretty quickly. They numbed my skin and everything before they put the IV in, but they didn't really need to. I've given blood often enough that having to sit around with something in my arm or hand doesn't really bother me anymore.
Then we waited. The waiting rooms were pretty nice - small, but I had a recliner to sit in, so I was comfortable. My surgery wasn't actually scheduled to begin until 11:30 - the big reason they wanted me there so early was so that the antibiotic could have time to completely get into my system. While I was waiting, my mom kept me company. I practiced some deep breathing exercises to help control my nerves. A few members of the staff came through (a nurse, the head anesthesiologist, and the anesthesiologist that was going to be in the OR with me), and they all verified my information with me, and made sure that I didn't have any questions or concerns. The staff made me feel super comfortable with the whole thing, actually.
My surgeon had a patient before me, and that procedure was running a little late, so she didn't actually come in to mark me until about 11:40. She marked me up with a sterile marker (individually wrapped), and marked which boob was bigger (I had slight asymmetry). Then she handed me over to the nurse so I could get brought back to the OR. They let me go to the bathroom one more time before we went back.
Once we were in the OR, they put a sticky pad on my back for the heart rate monitor, and started me on some IV drugs. Those drugs stung a little bit when they started going in, and I joked that at least now we know for sure that it's working. And then I was asleep. No countdown needed, lol.
I woke up in the recovery room really groggy. Apparently my surgery didn't take quite as long as was expected - they wheeled me into recovery at almost 2 o'clock on the dot, so my surgery must not have taken even two whole hours, even though I was scheduled for two and a half. As soon as I opened my eyes, there was a nurse next to me asking what my pain level was from one to ten, and if I wanted any pain meds. I told her it was about a three, and sure, go ahead and give me some meds - why not, right? I asked for something to drink, and over the course of the next hour or so I had a glass of water and two cans of apple juice, and two packages of applesauce (they didn't want to give me pain pills on an empty stomach). I remember asking the nurse questions right after I woke up - but I don't remember what the questions were or what her answers were, I was still too out of it because of the meds. The nurse staff was super attentive the whole time I was in recovery - any time I waved my hand or even just looked like I wanted something, someone was there to help me with whatever I needed.
My mom got back after I'd been in the recovery area for about thirty minutes. Apparently I said some really nice things to her about how awesome she was and how much I loved her and appreciated her being there with me. I don't really remember that part either, but I definitely still feel really grateful to her for being there with me for the whole process.
During the wait, they gave me one more hit of IV medication, and then gave me a 10mg percocet to tide me over for the car-ride. The nurse mentioned that I should be pretty well hydrated by now, because not only had I drank plenty of fluids, I'd also finished off three saline bags (one big one, and two little ones).
While we were waiting there, they gave my mom my post-op instructions (drain care, when to take pain meds and antibiotics, etc.). I tried to pay attention, but my mom pretty much had to repeat all of it to me once I got home.
At about three, they removed my IV and cleared me to get dressed. I had packed sweat pants, slip on shoes, and a lightweight zip front hoodie, and we got all of those on no problems. The drains were a little awkward to work around - they clipped the little bulby ends to the bottom of my ace wrap using safety pins, so they're underneath any top I wear. They asked if I felt up to walking out to the car, and I told them that I still felt too woozy to trust myself not to fall over, so they helped me into a wheelchair and wheeled me out. The nurse, on my request, reclined my mom's passenger seat a bit before I got in, and then helped me into the car.
Then my mom drove me home. The ride was smooth and easy, and I wasn't feeling any pain at all, really. When we arrived, my brother helped me get out of the car and go upstairs (I needed help getting out of the car, but the stairs were alright. I just told him to follow me and catch me if I fell over, which I didn't). I immediately needed to use the bathroom, which I did just fine on my own. Then I took a little nap for maybe an hour or two. I had no problems getting into or out of bed on my own.
When I woke up, I actually felt really good - the anesthesia had completely worn off by then and I was much more clear headed. I took my first antibiotic pill (I was supposed to take one the first day, and four every day after that until I run out), and got back on my thyroid medication. Then I decided that since I was feeling so well, and I wasn't really tired enough to go back to sleep, that I would make some phone calls. I texted a bunch of people and told them that I was doing good, and then I called a couple family members who I knew were going to be really worried about me. I also updated this page, and my facebook.
My mom brought me some cough drops to help with my sore throat (they used a breathing tube while I was under), and she brought me a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. I didn't have much of an appetite, but I made myself finish. I wasn't feeling nauseous either - they gave me a scopolamine patch behind my ear for nausea. Of course, I don't know if I wasn't nauseous because of the patch, or just because I wasn't nauseous anyway.
I did feel quite itchy after a while, and I saw on one of my post-op instruction sheets that I was allowed to take benadryl for itching, which is apparently one of the more common side effects for some of the drugs they gave me while I was in surgery.
After I ate and took another round of medications (ibuprofen & percocet), my surgeon called just as I was starting to fall asleep again around 7pm. She said I sounded like I was doing great, which I said I was, and she blessed off on taking benadryl and using ice packs. She told me that if I had any questions or issues, then I could call her or the office, and if I had any problems with my bandages or drains, I could come to the office whenever and they'd fix it for me. Then she wished me luck and said that she'd see me on Friday for my first post-op appointment. During this phone call was also when I found out how much tissue had been removed - she said approximately 550 grams from each side.
And that was it, that's how my whole surgery day went. If things keep going this well, I might even go back to work early. I took time off until next Thursday and before the surgery I thought that might not be enough time, but now I think I'll probably go in on Tuesday and Wednesday, maybe just for a half day each, to ease myself back into it. I work a desk job, so it won't be anything too strenuous. The biggest deciding factor will probably be whether or not I can go a whole day without pain meds (no driving on narcotics, folks!), but so far I don't think that's going to be an issue.
My mom is pretty amazed by the whole thing. She told me yesterday that I just look so normal - I'm clearly not in any pain, and I'm getting around the house just fine. I told her that if I didn't know for a fact that I had major surgery two days ago, I never would have guessed it on my own. The only other surgery I've ever had was getting my wisdom teeth out (I got all four out at the same time and was sedated for the process - not general anesthesia, but similar effect), and I would say that the first three days after that procedure were 100 times worse than the first three days after this procedure.
So far I've been really pleased with the whole experience. My surgeon and the staff at the surgery center have taken excellent care of me and have all been willing to answer any questions I might have had. The whole process has been nearly painless, and I'm super excited to get to see my new boobies for the first time on Friday. I'm so curious - I can tell they're definitely smaller beneath the bandages, but I can't tell exactly how much smaller, because the bandages are so bulky. No matter what they look like though, I can already tell that the surgery has changed my body for the better - it's so much easier to breathe, and my back hasn't been hurting at all, and that's a pain that I've been living with constantly for *years*.
Thank you to everyone on this site who has shared their experiences and given me the courage to go through with this surgery. Hopefully my review can help someone else in their decision making process.
Where the drains are in my incisions is one of the more consistently painful spots, but it's just occasional stingy pain and not anything unbearable.
I'm supposed to empty the little bulbs once every four hours, but I haven't been sticking to that very well (mostly because I sleep for more than four hours at a time). I was told that I'm supposed to squeeze the tube down the length to dislodge any clots each time I empty the bulbs. I've usually been getting only about 10cc each time I empty the bulbs.
Every time I empty them I'm supposed to pour them into these little measuring cups that they gave me, and then annotate on a sheet of paper exactly how much I'm draining each time, as well as the daily totals. I've been well under 50cc a day - yesterday was only about 30cc.
Here's a good video about cleaning the drains on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2DjNyubk1o
The whole process is a little gross, but no more so than dealing with that time of the month, really. The fluid was really red the first day, but it's running a lot clearer now - slightly yellow in color.
So to sum up, no, they aren't that bad, but yes, I'm definitely looking forward to getting rid of them tomorrow.
Gastrointestinal issues - TMI warning
Although I haven't been nauseous, I haven't had much of an appetite either. I've been trying to stay really well hydrated, and I try to eat something every time I take some pills, but for the most part it's been small things like pieces of fruit, or small servings of whatever my mom's cooked. I had a really hard time finishing a whole bowl of chicken noodle soup, which would normally be more of a snack than a meal for me. I've been avoiding most really heavy foods as well as carbonated beverages, and just sticking to things that should be easy for my system to handle.
Part of the reason I'm not hungry may be because I'm constipated. Normally I'm really regular - once or twice a day, every day. But as of now I haven't had any movements since the morning before my surgery, which is really unusual for me. Now I haven't been eating as much as I usually do, so I'm not feeling uncomfortably stuffed, but I don't want things to get out of hand either, so I've started taking a magnesium supplement (natural calm) that will hopefully get things moving again.
I have been really gassy though. Not sure what's going on with that. And I'm doing a pretty good job with my hydration so I'm going pee a *lot*.
I've never had problems with constipation before so I didn't pay much mind to the advice that I should start taking stool softeners right away after the surgery. I'm now learning better. Take it from me, folks, if the doctor gives you advice as far as aftercare goes, or over the counter stuff they want you to take, pay attention and follow their instructions to the letter. Things are bound to go best for you that way.
1st post-op appointment.
Then the medical assistant cut off the bandages (which felt *amazing*, btw, thank god they're finally gone), and let the doctor look at my boobs. The doctor said everything was looking great and blessed off on getting the drains taken out.
The the assistant cut the stitches that were holding the drains in and I braced myself just in time for her to walk across the room and put one of the drains away. I'm like, "oh, wow, you're done already." I totally missed her pulling it out! Lol. Didn't hurt at all, and no joke it only took a second. Clearly I need to stop worrying about these things.
After that, I finally got to get up and take a look at my new titties in the mirror! And I love them. They're still swollen, obviously, and you can't really see what shape my nipples and areola are going to be because they're all covered by tape, but I'm still really pleased. They're a bunch smaller than they were before, but they're still a decent size. I think they look very proportional to my frame. I think I'm going to end up around a 36D, maybe a C depending on how much the swelling goes down. And I think the shape is going to end up looking really nice. I still can't get over how *small* they are. It's amazing! I'm totally happy.
They gave me some gauze (in case I get any seepage out of the drain holes), and a little tiny post surgery bra that I swore wasn't going to fit me, but totally did. And then I got wrapped back up and headed back home. The whole appointment probably didn't even take a whole 15 minutes.
I'm allowed to shower, and I'm supposed to continue taking ibuprofen to keep the swelling down, as well as finish my round of antibiotics. But the surgeon said that if I don't need the heavy duty pain meds, go ahead and stop taking them as soon as I feel ready. Other than that, I'm supposed to keep wearing the surgical bra as much as possible, and then come back to the office on Monday when I might start getting stitches removed.
Of course, since my boobs are small now, it means my stomach is all the more obvious. Particularly since I'm all kinds of bloated since I *still* haven't had any bowel movements since Tuesday. So on my way home from my appointment we stopped at the grocery store so I could get some laxatives - it's just getting ridiculous at this point. It's time to go already, lol.
The surgical bra is much more comfortable than the bandages were, especially now that the drains are gone, and I honestly feel great. I'm not planning on running a marathon this weekend or anything, but I think I'm feeling up to going back to my own place. And I think I'm going to start walking the dogs and doing light exercise either tonight or tomorrow, and I'll probably go back to work on Tuesday of next week (so one week off work total).
It may be early for me to say so, but I'm so glad that I got this done. My back feels 100 times better, and I can stand up so much straighter already. I think I'm going to really enjoy having boobs that look nice and don't get in my way or cause me pain on a regular basis. Totally worth it.
So I'm actually wearing a bra that I used to wear before the surgery. I'm wearing one of my enell sports bras. They're super supportive and do up the front like a surgical bra does, but the band sits low enough that nothing is aggravating the incisions. I find it somewhat humorous that I'm wearing the same bra after breast reduction as I was wearing before it - but obviously a sports bra is sized much more flexibly than a regular bra, and it does fit very differently now than it did before. Before, it was so tight I could hardly breathe in it - now, it's just a comfortable support. It's actually loose enough that I probably wouldn't want to do anything super high impact in it, but it's fine for lounging around the house, and the girls feel nicely supported.
Today is day two with no heavy pain meds, and it's been a little rougher than I was expecting, but mostly because I've been nauseous and slightly ill. I think all the messing about with meds (pain meds, ibuprofen, antibiotics, and laxatives) has really messed with my system, and nothing I eat seems to really agree with me. I don't have a fever and the boobs look fine, so I'm not worried about infection, just having to spend more time than I'd like in the bathroom.
Second post op appointment is scheduled for tomorrow. I'm a little nervous about getting stitches out (not because I'm nervous about pain - nothing in this process has really been painful and I've decided to stop worrying about it), but because I feel like the stitches are what's holding everything together and I wonder if the boobs are really ready to hold themselves up on their own already. I guess I'll find out tomorrow.
One month post-op.
Nothing is infected, and while it does look a bit gross, it is definitely healing. My surgeon says that usually this sort of thing heals very well with minimal scarring, but even if the scars end up unsightly, there are things she can do to help that later. In the meantime, I have to apply silvadene and rebandage myself twice a day, and I have weekly appointments to check on my progress. At this last one they removed some of that white tissue you can see in the wound, which all has to get out so that good healthy blood-supplied tissue can move in.
None of this is painful at all, and it's not really much more gross than having a skinned knee or being on your period. I've pretty much just been tending the wounds when they need it, and otherwise forgetting about it. I feel very well overall - certain spots are still tender and I obviously can't wear a normal bra yet, but other than that I've gone back to almost all of my regular activities. No high impact exercise, but I can pick up and carry heavy stuff around just fine. I can even sleep on my side now, which is a huge relief.
That's pretty much all of my current news - I'll update again in a month or two and let you guys see how things are getting on.
So, a year later...
The scarring is still pretty apparent, especially on my left breast where the incision split open and healing was delayed. But I don't really care. They look amazing in clothes - I can finally display cleavage and feel happy and sexy, instead of feeling ridiculous. I usually wear a 36D - common store brands fit fine. A normal sports bra is plenty of support for exercise. And the scars will fade in time, I'm sure - it might be a couple more years before they get really unnoticeable, but I'm not in a hurry. The benefits by far outweigh the costs.
Overall, I'm extremely pleased with my doctor. She seems very experienced and knowledgeable, and I'm very happy with my results and with the quality of care I received. One thing is that all of my appointments with her have been very quick - she gets in and gets things done, not a lot of waiting around or extra talking (in fact, her and her staff are so efficient that I was actually done with my first post-op appointment before it was even scheduled to start. There's not much waiting around in that office!). She seems very willing to answer questions, but doesn't necessarily ask for a lot of input. She told me how the surgery would go, and what size she thought I would be afterward. There was no discussion about what I might have wanted - I was not invited to bring in pictures or an example of what bra I'd like to fit into. This is something that doesn't bother me - like I said, I'm very happy with my results - but someone who wants a little more control over the process might have been frustrated by her approach. I decided to trust in her judgement and experience, and was not disappointed, but this won't work for everyone. Part of my experience may have been because I was having a medically recommended, insurance covered, breast reduction, and not a completely cosmetic procedure that I was going to be mostly paying for out of pocket. She may be more communicative with other patients, or this may just be her style. It may also be that I didn't really ask questions or put myself forward - since I pretty much decided that I wanted the surgery, period, and wasn't too concerned about the details. Overall though, I was very pleased with not only her, but also all of the other staff that I met with during the process. Everyone was polite and friendly, and several people called my home after the surgery to ask how I was doing. I also was very impressed with the staff at the Alaska Surgery Center, where my surgery was performed.