5 weeks later, 36J to 36D, with some new pictures

Your experiences have been immensely helpful and...

Your experiences have been immensely helpful and reassuring, so here goes my story.

I'm 31 years old and I've had large breasts ever since I hit puberty. They're around a 38I these days, after having breastfed two kids. I'm 5'5" and 198 pounds, and while I'd love to lose some weight before having a reduction, I can't exercise without paying for it the next day in neck/back pain. I have the same problems so many here do: the above neck and back pain, grooves in the shoulder, sweaty under-boob, and difficulty finding shirts that fit up top. At my last checkup, my doctor suggested I look into a reduction. I'd never considered one until that point, and it hit me that yes, it was actually possible not to suffer through life with the twin burdens. I so, so hope it works out.

I have an appointment with a local plastic surgeon in a little under three weeks. I'm hoping to get the ball rolling on insurance approval -- I expect it's going to be a battle, since insurance is never easy. I'm *hoping* to be able to schedule a reduction for January, when I'll have a new bank of sick time to access. Between my weight and my recent breastfeeding history, I'm not sure that is realistic; guess I'll find out in a few weeks!

Has anyone else gotten a reduction with small kids in the house? I have two, ages 15 months and 3 years, and they're both kids who love being picked up. I'm dreading not being able to carry them or sit them on my lap for weeks. Though honestly, it'll probably be harder for me than for them. :)

Welcome, Mari-gold! Thanks for joining our little community. If you have any documentation from your primary care regarding the rashes, back pain, etc that would be helpful information to have your PS submit as well. I also reported use of ibuprofen 800 mg three times a day, as well as failed stretches, massage, etc. If your primary care recommended it, maybe they would also be willing to write a letter that could be submitted stating their professional opinion as to how you would benefit from breast reduction. If you have ever had a mammogram send that along too. Mine documented that my tissue was very dense making identifying a mass very difficult. Any information you can provide will help your claim immensly. Good luck and keep us posted :-D


Updating to add some pictures. It's funny how I...

Updating to add some pictures. It's funny how I manage to convince myself they're not *that* big, and then I see them in a photo and I'm blown away by how big they really are.
Goodluck at your consultation tomorrow!! I hope yours goes as wonderfully as mine did! all the best!
Thanks for checking on me, Tweedy! I am cautiously optimistic. At least now I've got the ball rolling. :)

It is amazing to see yourself in a picture. I never realized how uneven mine were. Made me more determined. Please do let me know when you hear from insurance. I will be anxious for the verdict.

I had my consultation yesterday. The good news is,...

I had my consultation yesterday. The good news is, I like the plastic surgeon and I felt comfortable with his practice. He predicted removing 700 grams from each side, said he uses the inverted T procedure, and gave me an idea of what size I'd be post-reduction (by mashing a breast up with his hand, which I found amusing). He recommended taking four weeks off work if I can. I think I can swing that, although I was hoping to get by with three.

But, the bad news: In March, my insurance company switched from a maximum BMI of 35 to a maximum of 30. The nurse calculated my BMI at 33. Before March, he said, I would have been an automatic approval, but now he thinks they'll deny me right away. They're submitting anyway, and he talked over my options for appealing a denial.

I can also lose 20 pounds to get under that BMI cap, which I would LOVE to do, but it's hard when I pay for exercising with crippling neck pain. Ah, well, I'll keep trying!

And now I wait. The nurse said I should hear back from the insurance company in about a month.

Good Luck with getting your approval.
On the plus side, you'll have new breasts by Christmas! Think of how much nicer all your pictures will look. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Thank you! I feel like time is crawling along now. Haha.

My bras haven't been fitting well lately, so for...

My bras haven't been fitting well lately, so for the first time in months I re-measured myself. Turns out I'm a mind-boggling 36J. I don't even know where to FIND bras in that size. I have never been able to buy bras online, because they're such a crapshoot in the larger sizes, but even the stores that I've gotten my bras from in the past don't sell bras in the I or J range with the band size of 36. Frustrating!!
Mari - I used to buy my bras online from the UK - they have big cup sizes with big band sizes and deliver internationall. one is Marks and Spencers and the other one is Debenhams. Debehamns range you can find under the tag plus size bras and cup size GG+ or by the collection name Gorgeous bras. I hope it helps you out in the meantime whilst your surgery is approved. All the best to you!
Thanks for the recommendation! Hopefully, I won't need to buy any more bras in these sizes, but you never know ..
To tide u over for a bra try bravissimo.com I bought mine there for years before my surgery. Good luck with insurance and maybe just buy one since hopefully u have more bra shopping on ur future :)

I got an approval letter in the mail today. I'm...

I got an approval letter in the mail today. I'm shocked! I was fully expecting a denial followed by a prolonged fight. Apparently, my BMI wasn't a problem ... or they really ARE that big. Ha.

Now I have to call the plastic surgeon to set a date (I'm hoping for January) and my insurance company to find out exactly how much the reduction will cost me.

I am SO excited!
Thank you!
hi welcome to realself i was like you waiting really long if you read my review i have been waiting since june 4th finally my breast redcution is around the corner my breast redcution is Nov 9th but i have been on realself .com for 4 months just waiting for my time which is know less than a month away i hope it all works out for you and waiting will go by really fast godbless... congrats on your approval yes God is Good....

I called my insurance and learned that the surgery...

I called my insurance and learned that the surgery will cost me either $75 (if it's performed as an out-patient surgery) or $500 (if it's an in-patient surgery). The plastic surgeon mentioned that he preferred keeping his patients in the hospital overnight so he could monitor them and control the pain better. My mom is a nurse, and when I mentioned that to her, she rolled her eyes. I'm not sure whether it's worth $425 to me to have IV meds, especially considering how hospital stays aren't conducive to rest. I'll have to talk that over with him.

My next appointment is Nov. 1, when I set a date for the surgery! I'm hoping for either the last week of December (if the details of my insurance plan change significantly with the new year) or mid-January (if they don't). I'm not sure what else is happening at this appointment. My husband is coming, so maybe the doctor will review the basics of the procedure.

I've told a couple friends now that I'm getting a reduction. They're all super supportive, but two have basically said, "Send some of that over here, would you?" Not the first time I've heard this, and it gets on my nerves like nothing else. Please don't imply that I'm taking a good thing for granted. Until you've lived with monstrously large breasts, you have NO idea how restricting, painful and flat-out embarrassing they can be.
Yeah I agree some dont get why we would go thru it but so far Im so glad I did it!!! I was lucky to have a lot of support.
I totally agree I get it all the time, I try to explain but they don't get it. I'm so happy to here of your journey I just found out the insurance claims they didn't receive my additional information for pre certification so I'm still in the waiting game.
oh you are so right it gets on my nerves when people dont understand the pain the stares

Hi all! I met with my plastic surgeon today, and...

Hi all! I met with my plastic surgeon today, and the big day is set for Feb. 12. I was hoping for early January, so it's later than I wanted, but this way I get to have it at the nicer hospital in town and my mother will be able to come up for the first week. It's so nice to have a set date. :)

Other details: Surgeon now plans to remove 800 from each breast; he still recommends taking four weeks off of work; apparently an overnight stay in the hospital will be considered a same-day surgery by the insurance company so long as I leave by 23 hours after the surgery (is that insurance for you or what?); and I don't get to shower for a full week after having the reduction. I know it's not all that unusual, but that's going to suck!

I should get paperwork next week from the nurse with instructions about bloodwork, testing, etc., that I need to have done before the surgery. I go in Feb. 11 to be marked.

You mentioned "recent breastfeeding".... how recent for you? It obviously wasn't a factor for your approval. I weaned pretty much the day I got the referral last month, but haven't seen the PS yet. I read it is better to wait 6-12 months after finishing breastfeeding but I would prefer not to wait that long if possible. Thanks for any info :)
I weaned my daughter at the end of July, so it's been three months. But she was 14 months old at the time and had only been nursing once or twice a day for a month, so there wasn't much milk production going on, you know? I never even had any engorgement. I did tell the doctor that I had been breastfeeding, but I also gave him the above information, and it never even came up as an issue. Though by the time I have the surgery I'll have been stopped for about six months. How old is your baby? Did you have much trouble when you weaned? I imagine that could be a factor. I read conflicting information online. Most sites recommended waiting at least six months before getting a reduction, which KILLED me. Six months is an eternity when you finally have an end in sight!
My twins are almost 14 months. So yes, we were in almost the same spot and I didn't feel like I had much milk. We were just down to middle of the night nursings and for my sanity, those sort of needed to go anyway! But I actually did have a bit of a drying up process because I was obviously engorged for a couple weeks after. But that is done now, so hopefully I can move towards the next step. My referral got messed up. I got it in mid-October, but it was for a doc in "general surgery" not PS. I did notice that when they called me to schedule, but I thought... hmm... maybe that is just what Kaiser puts everyone under, including plastic surgery. But no, the day before my appt the doctor's office called and said, "we are general surgery, we don't do breast reductions. your doctor should have referred you to plastics." Grr. So I have been trying to straighten that out and haven't seen anybody. I figured I shouldn't hurry the process (because of recently weaning anyway), but like you said, once you set your mind on getting this done it seems like six months is forever! :)

It's been ages since I've updated. I've been...

It's been ages since I've updated. I've been staying off Real Self and away from reduction sites to keep from freaking out about my upcoming reduction ... not that it's helped much. Ha. I keep second-guessing my decision to have the surgery, mostly because I've never had any kind of surgery and in my mind it's a bigger, scarier deal than it really is. However, I desperately need relief from the pain and discomfort of having large breasts, so I am still set on having this done. Just nervous. :)

In any event, my reduction is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday. I have to be to the hospital at 9 a.m., and the procedure is estimated to take 3 hours. I have my preop appointment on Monday. This last week, I've had preadmission testing at the hospital (all fine), a mammogram (also all fine) and a surgery clearance appointment with my primary doc (again, all fine). I'm set to take at least three weeks, possibly four, off from work.

I've been trying to talk to my kids (ages 3 years and 20 months) about how mommy is going to have surgery and won't be able to pick them up for a while because I'll have a boo boo. That will be the toughest part of recovery, I think. I'm not sure how much they understand, but they're young -- I doubt they'll remember any of this a year from now.

As I've been slowly telling people about the reduction, I am amazed by how many women have had or know someone who has had a reduction. Seriously, every woman has a story! It's helped a lot to hear so many in-person success stories. I love reading the Real Self testimonies, but there's something different about getting the story in person and getting to ask questions and see results in real life.

Any last-minute tips for preparing for surgery, ladies?
I am also having surgery Tuesday. Good luck to you.
Thank you! To you as well! Hopefully we both have great stories to share soon.

It's over! I had my reduction yesterday morning....

It's over! I had my reduction yesterday morning. I've been sleeping almost ever since; the pain is greater than I was expecting, but since I'm staying in the hospital overnight, the nurses have been able to help me keep on top of it.

I'm not sure what size I ended up with. The surgeon took 800 grams from each side. I feel nearly flat, but I think it's just in comparison to how huge I was before.

I haven't talked to the surgeon yet myself, but my husband did, and apparently the surgeon said my breasts were "full" of milk. I haven't breastfed in eight months, and I haven't been able to hand-express milk in ages, so I was shocked to hear that. It apparently puts me at a greater risk for infection. Here's hoping it doesn't become a problem.
Glad to hear you made it through ok. I don't know how much my PS has removed yet, so lucky you. I also haven't seen her since she came in and marked on me. I agree the pain is a little more than I expected. Isn't it weird looking down your gown and seeing less. Do you have much bruising? The nurses keep telling me my upper chest looks good b/c I have no bruising on top. I told nurse I could fold my hands under my boobs and still see them. The only other time I could do that was when I was pregnant. R u missing the little ones? I miss mine since I am unable to have visitors under 14. So can't wait to see her little face after school tomorrow. That is strange with the milk. I never realized it could stay in the breast that long. As you can tell wide awake sitting in hospital bed lol waiting for pain meds to kick in so I can go back to sleep.
It is SO weird not to have boobs hanging down to my belly button. My surgical bra covers almost my whole chest, so I'm not sure if I gave bruising. Judging from the pain, I probably do. I can't have visitors younger than 14, either. I miss my kids! But it's probably better that they not see me hooked up to weird machines. Plus they would want to climb in bed with me and that's not happening. How long are you in the hospital? I think I'm supposed to leave mid-morning. I am so glad I didn't push to go home last night.
They told me around noon. My bra also completely covers but they have unzipped it a little to check and see if there was any bleeding. I got lucky and was unhooked about 5 hrs after surgery. I still have iv in hand but not lines connected to it. That and only other thing is the bulbs that are going home with me in my "little purse" but my daughter would also want to climb in bed with me. As long as I stay on top of the Tylenol 3 they are giving me I have minimal pain just some constant pressure from bra. Plus closer to my arm pits hurt from the drain bulbs. My nipples hurt most of yesterday so I know I have feeling in them lol.

It's so nice to be recovering at home. The doctors...

It's so nice to be recovering at home. The doctors and nurses were great at the hospital, but there was some serious drama on my roommate's side of the bed. Mostly involving vomit and diarhhea and this woman's refusal to get out bed. NASTY.

In terms of healing, I feel better today than I did yesterday. The most bothersome part is how swollen the breasts are; I remember someone comparing it to the sensation in breastfeeding when your milk comes in fully, and that is spot on. Not painful, but not fun, either. The majority of my pain is along the underside of the breast and the spot where the incision ends near my elbow. Both nipples were pink, and I could feel a touch in the left one.

The surgeon told me that the right nipple is slightly smaller than the left, and he can fix it, but he can fix most easily during an in-office appointment where he "stretches" it out. That just sounds uncomfortable. I'm going to wait until I get a good look at them before I start worrying about. Who knows? Maybe it won't bother me at all.

I have some more pre-surgery pictures to post, and I think I'll be able to do it from this laptop. Hopefully. :-)

How could I forget the stats? The surgeon removed...

How could I forget the stats? The surgeon removed 800 grams from each size. I think I am still hovering around a D cup, but it's full and high rather long and droopy.
Just wanted to say congrats and hope you are recovering well! How are your kids taking this first week of recovery?
Thanks! My kids are doing remarkably well so far. I've been able to let them sit on my lap for short periods and sit next to me on the couch, as long as they don't try to squirm too close. The rough part is not being able to pick them up, especially when they're crying. But that will come with time. :)
I hear that, I feel so bad when he reaches up to be held and I have to say no no mommy has an ouchie! But it gets better each day soon this recovery time will be a faint memory!

I'm feeling better all the time. I'm typing this...

I'm feeling better all the time. I'm typing this leaning on my side on one elbow with absolutely no pain. It's amazing!

I have yet to see what my breasts look like under the gauze and bra, but judging from quick peeks, it's not pretty. I think it's going to turn my stomach when I do get a look Monday. Oh, well, it will be worth it!

I got the drains removed today. Can you say OUCH?...

I got the drains removed today. Can you say OUCH? The left one actually didn't hurt -- it just felt weird. The right one I think was inflamed a bit at the entrance, and it got stuck a bit inside. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I was nauseous and lightheaded all afternoon after that. It was actually the worst I've felt since waking up from the surgery.
congrats! youl look fab to so dont worry.. i think they look great and i did not notice the nipple difference unil you mentioned it!! I cant wait to be on he other side of this conversation!! XOXOXO
Thank you for saying that! I think the difference in nipple size will be far less noticeable once the thick black scabs are gone. I hope. Haha. Good luck to you! It is SO worth it.
Don't try to hurry the scabs along and let them fall off naturally ... I pulled one off and it left a indent.

I'm not quite two weeks out and I'm feeling GREAT....

I'm not quite two weeks out and I'm feeling GREAT. Today was the first today I felt completely comfortable without a bra when I got ready to shower. What an awesome feeling. It's so amazing not to have my breasts sag onto my belly when I go braless. I no longer feel like they're in danger of falling apart while I shower, and it's been days since my nipples ached like they were going to drop off. (Which happened quite a bit in the beginning, actually.)

I went to Target today and picked up a couple bras. For $10 a piece! Off the rack! Holy smokes, it's been YEARS since I was able to do that. They're sports bras, so I still am not sure what size I am, but I'm guessing I'll wind up a full D. That's okay; I do have some weight I'd like to lose eventually, so I like that I have some wiggle room up top. :-)

The only downer news is that I'm afraid I'm developing an infection in the right breast. Friday afternoon/evening I noticed a burning ache along the side, right where the incision ends but deep inside the breast. It got steadily worse all night, and by the time I went to bed, I couldn't even lay my arm on top of it. I'm on antibiotics anyway to prevent a breastmilk-related infection, though, and I started them in earnest Friday. So ... today was much better, and I think the antibiotics have kicked in. I see the surgeon Monday, so we'll see what happens there.
Congrats! Good that you are seeing your Dr on Monday, but it sounds like you are on top of things with the antibiotics. How nice, that you got to pick up a few bras from Target! You look fantastic and you will only continue to look better. I can't wait to get my BR!!!
Thank you! Do you have a date set yet?
Hi Mari_gold, No, I don't have a date set yet. I received my approval letter yesterday (a Saturday), so I have to wait until tomorrow (Monday) to call my PS's office and schedule pre-op testing and surgery date. lol I'll be dialing their number at 9:01am! :) You look beautiful! I can't wait to be done with the surgery and recovering. By the way, I agree with the post below; I didn't notice ANY difference in your nipples until I read your comment. My thoughts when I was looking at your photos that you posted were that your PS did a beautiful job!! Congratulations!

Adding some pictures since I'm nearly two weeks...

Adding some pictures since I'm nearly two weeks out from surgery. I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon to decide whether I'll continue the antibiotics and whether my persistent sore spot is infection or just sore, healing tissue. I'm leaning toward the latter, but we'll see what the doctor thinks.

Doctor doesn't think I have an infection -- yay!...

Doctor doesn't think I have an infection -- yay! He says the soreness is likely just due to healing or extra fluid. That part of the breast is more swollen than anywhere else, for sure. I do have to finish my current course of antibiotics.

I had to laugh when he told me that "there was milk EVERYWHERE" when he was doing the surgery. The way he said it conjured images of milk spraying out and the doctors/nurses ducking for cover. Totally not how it happened, but still funny. Ha.

I got my return-to-work slip today, too, but that's still two weeks away. I am so, so thankful my work has generous sick leave policies!
You look great !! I can't wait for mine. I may put pictures, did u put them all at once or just one like before then later the after?
Thank you! I put up the before pictures when I first started the review, and then I added more right before and after I had the actual surgery.
Well I posted one finaly I have a month to wait

Tomorrow marks three weeks since the surgery --...

Tomorrow marks three weeks since the surgery -- wow! It sure doesn't feel like it. I'm finding it hard to remember how big my breasts used to be. I'm looking back at my pre-surgery pics, and I am amazed by how they dominated my appearance. I added some comparison pictures to my review, since I found those so incredibly inspiring when I was reading reviews before.

My recovery is going wonderfully. At this point, I have only the occasional twinge or ache to complain about; I can even lie on my side without thinking about it, although I'm still trying to sleep on my back. The surgical glue is slowly flaking off. There are a few spots around my nipples and at the edges of the incision where I can see the scar; it's pink, but not nearly as glaring as I was afraid it would be. Of course, I might feel differently when I don't have the bloody scabs to compare it to! The worst thing right now is how incredibly sensitive my nipples are. (This is a "problem" I am very, very happy to have, let me tell you.)

This is my last week of sick leave. I am NOT looking forward to going back to work. I have a feeling I am going to be exhausted by the end of the first week back.

Also, based on my own measurements, I'm now a 36D....

Also, based on my own measurements, I'm now a 36D. Woohoo! I can buy regular bras again!
Your post pics look great. I hope I have the same luck with my surgery on April 1st!
Thank you! April 1 is getting close! You must be so excited. :)
Just wanted to say, your results are really great and a huge improvement. :) I'm sure you must feel like such a weight is off your shoulders! Congrats. I hope you continue to heal well, and good luck with going back to work. But I'm sure you'll be ok!

Yesterday was my first night back at work. I was...

Yesterday was my first night back at work. I was surprisingly nervous about seeing my coworkers post-surgery -- or, more specifically, them seeing me. It was fine, though. It was rather nice to get back into my old routine, although I am so, so glad I decided to take a full four weeks after the surgery. By the end of my shift, I was exhausted. I have so much admiration for all you ladies who went back to work earlier.

Physically, I'm feeling great. My breasts are starting to settle into a more breast-like shape, although the underside is still quite shelf-like. Once that drops a bit, I'm going to be VERY happy with the shape. I'm still not crazy about the oval shape of the left nipple, so I'm going to talk to the surgeon about fixing that, and I wish the right nipple weren't quite so far from the center, but you know what? Minor quibbles. My back, neck and shoulder pain are gone, and the sheer discomfort and annoyances of living with pendulous breasts is a thing of the past. I still can't get over the fact that I can lie on my stomach with my weight on my upper arms and my breasts DON'T TOUCH THE FLOOR. It's freaking amazing.

In terms of healing, the scabs and surgical glue are starting to come off. There are a couple spots where the incisions are a livid red and where the healing isn't progressing quite so well, but I don't see any signs of infection. They haven't hurt in days, and aside from some hypersensitivity in the left nipple, they feel almost normal. I've even started picking up and carrying my kids again, although in very small increments -- especially my oldest, who is nearly 40 pounds. I have to say, the kids have been great about the holding/carrying restrictions, although I think my presence at dinner/bedtime more than made up for that in their minds. (I work a night shift, so I'm usually at work then.)
You look great, and your story is SO similar to mine! I'm also 31 and my pre-surgery size was a 40 H/I, but my before and your before look a lot the same. I had my surgery this past Friday and the doctor estimates that I will be a D when all is said and done. I also have young kids (7, 5, and 19 months) and it's really hard not being able to tend to my youngest! How long did you wait before picking up your youngest?
Thank you! It's great to hear from someone in such a similar position. My doctor told me to limit myself to lifting 10 pounds or less for three weeks, but I started lifting my youngest (~25 pounds) into chairs and such at two weeks, I think. I started picking her up and carrying her (very carefully) at four weeks. I probably should have waited longer, but she was desperate for the attention by that point and I missed holding her. :) I am back to picking up my son (~40 pounds) now, too, although I am far more careful about that and I don't hold him for very long.
How are your children handling your recovery? Mine didn't understand at first that they had to stay away from my upper body, but they figured it out pretty quickly, and they did great overall.

Hi all! Five weeks and change and doing great here...

Hi all! Five weeks and change and doing great here. Just about all the surgical glue and scabs have fallen off my breasts, leaving shiny new pink scar tissue behind (or, in a few trouble spots, still-in-the-process-of-healing wounds). With the dark scabs gone, I am finally getting an idea of what they're going to look like when all is said and done, and I am so happy. Oh, I could quibble over a few things (the size of the left nipple, for one), but if I compare these breasts to the ones I had before, there isn't even a question.

So, trouble spots -- on my right breasts, the vertical incision is still far behind the healing of the rest of the incisions. There are a couple tiny areas where some active bleeding was going on. I see no signs of an infection, and I suspect the problem is that I was sick last week and I returned to work, so I've been more physically active and have gotten less sleep. I've been keeping the trouble spots bandaged so they don't rub against the bra and get worse; I figure the doctor will tell me at my checkup next week whether further action is warranted.

I'm looking forward to being able to wear non-sports bras soon. And to working out! Wow, it's going to be weird to be able to jog or use the elliptical and not have to worry about being hit in the chin with a stray breast.
Who was your insurance company? I have BCBS and wondering if it will actually take me six to eight weeks to hear back. You look great!
I had Anthem BCBS and it only took two weeks for me to be approved. its all based on how your plastic surgeon writes up the request. good luck
Who do you have for insurance? I have BCBS and just had my first consultation. Wondering of it's actually going to take six weeks to hear back. You look great!
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