Breast Reduction & hydradenitis supprativa - Austin, TX

I was facing a future of crippling pain and being...

I was facing a future of crippling pain and being wheelchair bound before I made the decision to give myself a fighting chance to change it. My woes started around age 15 when I developed large breasts early and began having cysts in my armpits and pubic area. My breasts continued growing and was lugging around 32F at my thinnest in my 20's which caused chronic pain in my neck,back and shoulders . I dislocated my left knee In 8th grade doing ballet and my other knee dislocated in college. After 7 knee surgeries over the past years I have bone on bone grinding and am in need of replacing both joints now. My cysts weren't diagnosed as Hydradenitis Supprativa until I was 32. Previous to the diagnosis I had thought they were from ingrown hairs until my mid 20's when they increased in size ( from pimple to golf ball) and frequency of occurrence. It was then that the cysts began appearing on my breasts and along my sides. I was terrified that I had cancer or even possibly AIDS, so it was a relief when I was diagnosed with HS. Between the debilitating pain of cysts and crippled knees I wasn't able to get enough exercise to balance my weight and slowly put on the pounds. It was a cluster****! After years of wishing I had normal sized breasts I had the means to do something about it. 13

On September 25,2012 I had my breast reduction,...

On September 25,2012 I had my breast reduction, the first of 3 procedures that will give me the chance to change my life. The surgery removed 5 lbs from my breasts.. As most women with large breasts I had never been unable to get a conclusive mammogram due to the density and presence of cysts. Originally, I had thought I would need a bilateral mastectomy to protect myself from breast cancer. I discussed my concerns with the surgeon who shared his wife's experience with similar issues and decided to get a reduction and hold off from the full mastectomy. I had the tissue sent to pathology for a thorough screening for breast cancer and am currently waiting to hear the results. His wife had cancer present in her breasts and she did have the mastectomy, but she is healthy now. For many women a breast reduction isn't so much about the way they look, but about our health and quality of life.

The first thing I noticed upon waking up after the surgery was how I could get a full breath of air. I hadn't been able to fully inhale due to the weight on my chest for years. I had just gotten used to it so I didn't even realize until I took those first few breaths how different it felt to get my lungs full of oxygen. What a difference it is to actually breathe, lol!! I had no pain at all and I was already in my post surgical compression bra so I could see the contours of my new breasts. They were no longer the suffocating blobs of fat that usually rested in my armpits when laying down. They were a normal looking breast size. I am still in awe of how beautiful they are.

It wasn't until I got up to walk with the nurse that I realized I was no longer limping from the pain in my feet caused by my Sciatica and for the first time in years was able to stand up straight. My posture was bent forward and had begun to develop a hump in my back from the weight of my breasts before. This was a miracle! I hadn't known what to expect from lightening my load. I read that not all women experience relief from back pain with a breast reduction, but am overjoyed to report I haven't had one lick of pain or soreness since the surgery. I'm 9 days post-op now and absolutely thrilled with the results.

Cosmetically, the shape of my breasts is what they were when I was a C cup at 14 and the embarrassingly stretched out aeriolas are now the most adorable nickel sized beauties that I ever saw. It almost seems a shame to have to cover them up. For now I am healing well and following everything my surgeon told me to do. It will be a while before I can go topless, but I'll be flashing my friends soon enough :) My husband, who was a major fan of my over large natural boobies (lol, sicko!) is now saying he wants to keep me in seclusion because of fights he may have to get in over how good I look! I got plenty of attention from men and women before, but it was more humiliating than flattering because I felt like a freak. Now I feel beautiful and being able to carry myself with grace instead of plodding along bent forward with a limp has given me confidence in my appearance, which is a new feeling to have. I literally wept in joy over this. The depression that had become normal in my life just isn't there anymore. Next to my wedding day and the birth of our daughter this is the happiest I've been.

I paid for my surgery out of pocket because it was too important to wait for approval by insurance. My PS has submitted the claim to my insurance - GWH Cigna - and should be approved for health reasons, but I have been told that the insurance companies rarely approve breast reductions. I have read many reviews of women who received approval with fewer health issues than I have so I am hopeful that I will receive a refund and plan to fight my case until I get it. I have three Dr's that will write letters for approval, including my primary who has seen me since I was 17 and has been familiar with my health issues. I hope this will be enough to get my surgery approved. With my health issues I can't imagine why they wouldn't approve it. The HS cysts had left my breasts deformed with ugly scars. I think I have a pretty solid case on that alone. I don't understand why it is so easy for thin women with large breasts to get approved, and difficult for larger women with more health issues. It really defies logic. I could go on about my thoughts on our screwed up, money driven health system but it won't change anything so why waste my energy. Just know I won't roll over if they don't approve me the first time. I'm used to having to struggle for what is right and have a lot of determination to win this battle.

I hope posting about my experience will help others, especially those who are suffering from HS because it is a rare disease that is often misunderstood and has a high suicide rate. This disease had made me feel a burden to my family and I was already becoming a shut in with a very low quality of life which could have ended sooner than it should. There is currently no cure for HS and besides my PS, Im also working with another Surgeon, Dr. Clyde Smith, who is makimg me his guinea pig and pioneering a treatment using laser to zap the cysts before they become monsters. So far it has stopped them from growing, but this will have to be done for the rest of my life because HS is genetic and it may go into remission for a while but always comes back. It's important to me that others will keep up with this throughout my process.

I meant to say that is important to me that others...

I meant to say that is important to me that others who may be suffering from HS might read my story and find hope and inspiration in their own plight. I will keep up with this through my process. :)

I have a question about getting light headed and...

I have a question about getting light headed and nearly fainting when taking off compression bra and removing tape from incisions. The last two times I had taken a shower using warm water and had my incisions cleaned I got very dizzy and had to fight to remain conscious. I asked my PS about it and he said it had to do with pressure shift when compression bra is removed, and that I should be laying down when removing it and cleaning my incisions. Has anyone else had this happen?

I've tried to post pics. I will try again from my...

I've tried to post pics. I will try again from my computer. I've been using my phone and iPad without luck. Can someone tell me if this just was because the site isn't fully supported on touch devices?

For those who are interested in what this HS is...

For those who are interested in what this HS is and looks like, the side view picture of my marking before surgery shows an active cyst and one of the scars. First, HS is a severe form of Acne that is hereditary and usually shows up during puberty as small pimples in areas where sweat glands and hair grow. ie; armpits, groin, buttocks, and on males- the face. The active cyst is in the first days of visual presentation and resembles a pimple near the armpit. If not arrested this would become a boil the size of a walnut or golf ball before opening and relieving the pressure. Aaaaaah. Often the cyst becomes a staph infection that requires Rx antibiotics and strong pain medication. (I had an MRSA infection in one of my groin cysts. OUCH) When these occur in an axillary (joint) areas it is normal to lose full function of the limb due to the severity of pain when moving. Fever will accompany the infected cysts. Usually one cannot move without excrutiating pain and work has to be missed for a few days. My doctor had to routinely write notes for me, but it is a burden to employers and I have found it is best for my situation to be self-employed. This is what causes HS to be considered a debilitating disease which qualifies for Disability. The scar is a purple blotch closer to the nipple, and has a marker line through it. It was one of those walnut sized staph infected lovelies that hurt so much I wasnt able to wear a bra for days. With G cups, having no bra on in public is very humiliating. At times, nothing can be in contact with the sensitive boil stage. This means alot of not by choice nudity. I tend to stay out of the public eye during these events, which can take over a week to get past the height of the pain and can occur 3 times a month. You can see how this becomes a real problem. There is also a birth mark on the side of my breast. It is pretty obviously a brown patch and was removed during BR. I hope this helps anybody interested to understand what this HS disease is. It is pretty rare, affecting 1 in a million people. I have found that not many health professionals are familiar with this disease. Often it is thought to be ingrown hairs and never diagnosed correctly. I was 32 when I finally had a DR recognize and diagnose. It usually is dormant until puberty then shows up looking like pimples in the armpit or pubic area, becoming full blown in mid twenties. Sadly, factors like: pitting scars and draining cysts can become disfiguring, especially in males who get it on their faces (not to mention unrelenting level 10 pain) this disease has a high rate of depression and suicide. Binding clothing, Hormones, diet and Stress seem to be triggering factors in cyst development. AKA: Fox Den Disease, due to the tunnels of scar tissue that form. Basically in a nutshell... It's a mess. I've got two cysts coming up now, Party!

Day 16 post op : I've had these hard swollen areas...

Day 16 post op : I've had these hard swollen areas develop on my sides where the drains were located. Lipo was done in this area, as well. It seems to me it is a buildup of the drainage that has no place to go. I'm just wondering if anyone has had this, and if it is normal. Is there anything I could be doing to help it go away? Ice or heat? I had been told ice was better than heat, but then I read where ice is bad and heat is good.

Day 17 post op - Today I've been very tired from...

Day 17 post op - Today I've been very tired from not getting good sleep last couple days. We got our daughter back from staying with grandparents and I was just so happy to see her that I wasn't resting as much, but it has caught up with me. I'm so eager to be cleared for driving. Haven't had many opportunities to get out. My husband is gone most of the day to work and it's just me and the kid. This is a good learning experience for when I have my TT. I hear that it will be 10x more difficult recovery, so I am planning to hire someone to help me out. My in-laws are wonderful and volunteered to take our daughter, aka The Red Menace :), while I am needing to take it easy. It's hard with a little one. You have to fight the urge to pick them up and that's not easy. I could have let her stay at the in laws longer, but was feeling so eager to have her back. I paid for it in exhaustion. The house has become the romper room mess she is so talented at making. Tips on dealing with toddlers during recovery are very welcome. So far I've secured the danger issues and she has been content to play with her toys and watch toons in the same room I'm in. Day care has been out of the picture because she brings home the germs and we all get sick. This isnt the time for battling the latest virus. The HS cyst under my arm has grown to the size of an acorn. It's not hard to deal with thanks to the pain meds. Ill see my PS on Monday and will bring it up to him then. To all my sisters who are in this process I'm sending hugs!

Day 18 post- op: I changed the title of my review....

Day 18 post- op: I changed the title of my review. The other one read like a laundry list of complaints and I'm in a better place now. So happy with this decision and getting support from the real self community takes any fear out of it. Reading other reviews I realized I hadn't given my stats. Before BR I weighed 237, 5'8" and bra size 38G or 40DDD. I'm not sure how accurate the bra sizes are as they seem to differ. I agree that cup size is a faulty comparison and go by what looks similar. I will ask at my next appointment what actual cc's were taken out, but I do know that it is close to 5lbs total. Although my weight is considered obese I do not have diabetes or high cholesterol or blood pressure. I've been getting those sudden sharp little pains as nerves reconnect, otherwise I'm doing fine. Due to prior complications with recovery, my PS has me taking a sedative that keeps me chill because I have a tendency to push myself too hard and create issues when healing. My husband thinks it is funny that I have to be drugged to take a break cuz I'm a workaholic and a neat freak. Here's to all you brave women going through this :) many hugs!

Day 20 post op - I added 2 week post op pictures. ...

Day 20 post op - I added 2 week post op pictures. They show one are that is giving me trouble. It looks a little infected to me. I had a follow up with the Dr and he wasn't too concerned. I was instructed to remove the tape as often as needed, flush with hydrogen peroxide, coat with Polysporin and cover with fresh tape. What I see happening is an area is pulling apart and is draining blood and pus, has red and yellow coloration around area affected. Everything had been rolling along perfectly. Im not exactly sure why this happened but I think that its possible I put stress on the incision when holding my toddler and resting her on my hip. The other possibiity is that it is drainage channeling through from a HS cyst in my left armpit. I will do what the Dr. recommended and see how it goes. He also said that the incisions were at 15% strength and would take another 4-6 weeks to get back to 100% strength. I'm channeling all my patience right now because I won't get scheduled until I'm further along to have phase 2 of 3 surgeries to complete my mommy makeover. I was hoping that today at the follow-up I would get cleared to schedule next surgery date, but I was being a little ahead of myself. :) Here's to all you ladies out there with new boobs, and those that are thinking about getting them.

Almost six weeks post op now. Have had progress in...

Almost six weeks post op now. Have had progress in healing of infection on left side incision. Was given next surgery date of December 4. Will be having liposuction of torso, thighs and knees. The pain is minimal most of the time with a sharp twinge here and there as the nerves come back. A tiny amount of feeling has returned, but nothing in nipples yet. The under arm and bra roll areas that had lipo have more swelling to go and there are lumps that I plan on getting lymph massage to help smooth out. It really gets better every day and so far I really love my results and am so happy I did this. It's looking like I may hit my goal of 36 C. I have photos to post and will soon.

Almost six weeks post op now. Have had progress in...

Almost six weeks post op now. Have had progress in healing of infection on left side incision. Was given next surgery date of December 4. Will be having liposuction of torso, thighs and knees. The pain is minimal most of the time with a sharp twinge here and there as the nerves come back. A tiny amount of feeling has returned, but nothing in nipples yet. The under arm and bra roll areas that had lipo have more swelling to go and there are lumps that I plan on getting lymph massage to help smooth out. It really gets better every day and so far I really love my results and am so happy I did this. It's looking like I may hit my goal of 36 C. I have photos to post and will soon.

I'm now a little over 2 months post BR and am so...

I'm now a little over 2 months post BR and am so grateful to have been able to change my life. I can't say I have no more back pain, but I am able to go longer in my day before it starts hurting. Taking Arnica helped with bruising and pain. I had a little trouble with infections on incisions, but they are healing now and can revise if needed.

Had the 2nd phase of 3 part Mommy Makeover on...

Had the 2nd phase of 3 part Mommy Makeover on Tuesday Dec 4. That was for liposuctioning of back, waist, inner/outer thighs, hips, and knees. I'm posting a review on that. So far the healing on BR is looking better. Where the incisions got infected the scar is wider and obvious, not a nearly invisible seam as the rest is. I'm still using Scarguard and Micropore tape on all incisions. I think the tape is helping relieve the stress on incisions which allows them to heal with less obvious scarring. The liposuction done to my face/neck and bra rolls has settled in nicely and if it's an indication of how this next phase will be like I am very excited. So far it has been worth the discomfort. I'm with many others who said they only wished they hadn't done it sooner.
Austin Plastic Surgeon

He came highly recommended by my cousin who had a smart lipo procedure by him, and the surgeon who performed a surgery to remove the HS cysts under my arms. He is an excellent surgeon with a reassuring, supportive and calm manner. I feel very secure and positive about choosing him. His staff is exceptional. I am fortunate that I could afford the best and I feel that is what I'm getting.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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