Breast Reduction and Tummy Tuck Journey 8 Days out -La Jolla, CA
I found this site in the past two months, found it...
- 2 Apr 2013
I found this site in the past two months, found it very helpful and thought I would share my story. It took me several years to come to the decision to do a breast reduction. I am 42 and a working mother to 3 boys ages 13, 11 and 8. My husband is supportive of my decision.
I remember shock after my third son was born when it was first suggested to me to consider a breast reduction when I was done nursing. I have had this tucked in my mind for a while. I have been large breasted since puberty and looked back at college pictures and even at my skinniest I was still an out of proportion DDD. This past year, I finally got tired of not being able to fit into tops, dresses etc. I have my youngest sisters wedding coming up in June and while that was not the reason to do it now, it factored in. I started telling friends and family and my younger sister who had a tummy tuck after twins told me I needed to do a tummy tuck with as "our genetic belly will never go away on its own." Again, my first response was” you are crazy and those are 2 major surgeries” but in the end I decided I would bring it up on my consults. I also wrestled with emotions- should I lose more weight first, is this cheating, but ultimately I decided I have done the best I can with my body up to this point and I believe I qualify for it.
In early January I made my consult appointments- I had gotten names from a friend who is a breast surgeon. I also work in medicine and collectively asked for names and saw only those whose names were given to me and tried to find ones in my insurance network. Being January I was surprised I had to wait 4-6 weeks to see some of the surgeons and then I had to mentally figure when I could ask for the surgery to be done with work and my kids schedules and allowing recovery by the summer. To prepare for my visits, I got my mammogram, saw my PCP for clearance, chiropractor for neck pain and had a neck x ray which showed degenerative disk disease already! I took all the paperwork to my consults and that was really helpful to have in advance. I also had my insurance requirements printed out which was also helpful to hand to the plastic surgeons.
I saw 4 surgeons and liked all of them. Ultimately I narrowed it down to two. Deciding between them was tough. One, I knew better professionally and loved my consult but second guessed things once I left- I was offered more than I asked and made me wonder if it was too much to do at once. In the end, he was out of town the week I needed it done. The surgeon I chose- Dr John Apostolides was the best fit for me. He spent the most time explaining the procedures in detail before he examined me. He was the only one that met me fully dressed. His office staff was great. I felt very comfortable with him and I am happy with my decision. I did not have any problem getting insurance approval from Aetna. It helped that I had all the information ahead of time documented.
I also worked really hard to lose weight before doing this- basically wanted to be as close to ideal weight as possible before surgery. I set up a biggest loser type challenge with a dozen friends. The challenge ended 6 days after my surgery so I ended early losing 27 pounds and 13% of my body weight. I didn’t win money but won in every other way. Everyone noticed my weight loss and I feel it will help my outcome. I went into surgery at 5”7” and 178 pounds.
I kept very busy the three weeks before surgery with work, kids school and activities, home life etc and did not have much of a chance to think about much. I shopped and got all my pre surgery meds supplies, several bras a couple button down shirts that I never own for obvious reasons etc. I am lucky to have a bench in my shower so did not need a chair and our guest bathroom has a counter right next to the toilet so did not need a toilet sear riser. A friend brought me a walker but I did not use it since I had a breast reduction with the tummy tuck. I lined up help for my kids, had a family member come out for part of her spring break, made food ahead of time to freeze…I worked the night before my surgery, was able to come home and shower and get my kids to school and check back in for my 10am surgery.
My surgery was March 25th. I knew the OR staff and they were great. My husband and I met with the nurses anesthesiologist plastic surgeon etc. The markings were done. We reviewed my size 36H and going down to a c but proportional, marking my belly for my tummy tuck and lipo of flanks and then it was time to go to the OR. I asked about the 72 hours lidocaine for postop care but the hospital did not have it ? The last thing I remember is getting a spinal in the OR for 24 hour postop pain and then I was in the recovery room. My husband said I was in there 7 ½ hours but I think the actual procedure was 6 ½.
My Postop recovery was as expected, I had a ton of meds for postop nausea as well as the patch before to help with nauea- one of my bigger fears as I did not want to throw up after the surgery with the abdominoplasty. I stayed in the hospital 2 days and it was the perfect amount of time. Dr A told me surgery went really well and I will be happy with the result, he took 850 grams from the right breast and over 700 from the left (right was bigger than the left and he made them symmetrical). He did lipo of the flanks and took 350cc from each side and then another 1600 grams from the abdominoplasty- Wow- about 8 pounds or so of tissue. Friends that stopped by said they could already see a dramatic change- yayy!
Overall the hospital stay was helpful, I am not sure I would have done well at home but I did have some issues with getting pain meds from one of the day nurses and went 6 hours without any ? I did not have much help at home for me those 2 days and the nurses helped me get moving and showered the second day so I would do it over again just be more on top of the pain control. The ride home was tough and the closest I came to vomiting. I didn’t get out of the car until I took some zofran and sat for a while. If you remember before the drive home, try to get some anti nausea medicine.
Once I got home and was in control of my own meds, it was a different ball game and I felt better and moved better. What worked for me was ibuprofen, oxycodone, and a little robaxin. My sister got in town with her family that night because my husband was leaving the next morning for 2 ½ days for work. She was a godsend. She helped with my kids as well as my friends helping. She helped with me personally, my drains until I could manage them and helped me shower and blow dry my hair- it felt to so good. I put on my own bra after my shower- its much better than the hospital one. My doctor said I could just wear a camisole with shelf bra but didn’t really have those before. The bra that worked best of the ones I bought ahead of time was the Playtex full support simply wireless in large. All the others I bought didn’t fit right so I am glad a bought a range. The genie bra might be good but it requires going overhead which is still hard.
We went in for my first postop check 2 days after being home on POD4. Doctor said everything looks great, the nurse who I never met kept telling me how good I was looking. He wanted all four drains to stay in though. The breasts look like a D now and they will settle around a full C or small D once all the swelling is gone. I do feel great from the chest standpoint- I feel so much lighter. On POD 4 I was walking with a little slant and better than we all thought. The meds are slightly tiring (robaxin and oxycodone).
By Sunday POD6 I was off the oxycodone for the most part, too hard on the stomach and too tiring. I walked up to the park with my sister to watch all the kids in a flag football game.
In regards to the stomach- bowels moving, I did a bowel prep the night before surgery to have maximum compression of my belly for surgery. In the hospital, once I was eating I started on colace. When I got home I took a dulcolax because I was afraid of getting stopped up after the pain meds etc. That was a mistake as my stomach rumbled for two days and I had to use gas-x. Then I took nothing out of fear and by POD6-7 I was really stopped up. The nurse in the office had told me, it’s a fine tune game to figure out what will work and I agree everyone is different.
At one week out, I am managing with Robaxin to help with muscle relaxation, advil and Tylenol. I can move pretty good but am trying to dance the fine line of moving around and resting up as long as I have the help. I am not sure I have felt the swell hell (the binder stays on) or maybe I have not paid much attention. The tummy hurts more than the breast but the breast incisions still hurt and while I feel my nipples the rest of the breast is numb; it almost feels like I have implants in when I don’t. The breasts are high as he said they would be until 3-4 weeks out. I find sleeping in the Lazy-boy chair is the most comfortable still. My bed is a tempurpedic mattress and it molds to your body and can’t get the tension off the abdominal incision in the bed. I can take care of myself but not my kids yet. I find it is hard to eat as healthy as I have been when I am recovering. My sister left the morning of POD7 and I have my sitter when the kids get home from school.
Overnight POD7 I had a ton of itching on my torso and sides of my chest. I had to get up at 130 and take Benadryl. My second postop visit was today POD8 and he took out three of the drains. He and my friend who is a dermatologist were not sure about the itching and mild rash in some areas. He suggested a camisole underneath the binder and I am trying that now. I took more Benadryl and napped today. I should be driving in the next week. In regards to my arm movement I was told to limit it above head for 3-4 weeks as the stitches start to dissolve in 2-3 weeks and the full strength is not there yet. Oh, well my hair can look messy, as I can’t blow-dry it. My mom is coming in town tonight and I will use the extra help for a few more days.
I never kept this secret, as I did not feel I could disappear for a couple weeks and people not notice and I did not think I could show up with my chest gone and people not notice. I also felt like I had valid medical reasons in doing this surgery so why hide it. By being open I was able to get lots of help and everyone I told was very supportive!
Up to this point things have been as expected, I went in prepared and my doctor also prepared me pretty well. I think if you go in prepared it really helps. It is important to remember that whether its plastic surgery or not, it is still major surgery with anesthesia and you have to allow time to heal and recover. I hope this review is helpful.
I will post pictures from before my weight loss after my weight loss heading into surgery and then post pictures post surgery.
In terms of cost, I have to wait and see what my copay for insurance is and final hospital costs and then add everything up.
The surgeon I chose- Dr John Apostolides was the best fit for me. He spent the most time explaining the procedures in detail before he examined me. He was the only one that met me fully dressed. His office staff was great. I felt very comfortable with him and I am happy with my decision.