Tried It for Back Problems - Seattle, WA

I didn't grow in especially early, but they came...

I didn't grow in especially early, but they came in fast. I started 8th grade a solid B cup and by the end of the year I was spilling out of D's. Through high school and my 20's they kept growing slowly, but surely. In my early 20's I went from 165lbs to 125lbs. I kept it off for several years, but the damage was done and it didn't really change my cup size all that much. I went from an ok set of 36DD'S to a shamefully droopy set of 34DD'S. Now to understand my motivation for getting fit I have to tell you about this substitute teacher I had in the 6th grade. This lady looked old as dust and had the absolute worst hump (they're called Dowager's humps) I have ever seen, before or since then. I just remember staring at this lady, wide eyed vowing to myself to do whatever necessary to avoid that fate. I didn't realize I was only going to be 5'2" with 38DDD's and nagging neck and back injuries at 30.

Two years ago I was in a car accident that caused bulging discs in C4, C5, C6 and triggered degenerative disc disease in T6 and T7 (basically the level where your bra band wraps around your chest). I spent around 6 months doing twice weekly PT sessions, 6 months of weekly massage, more Chiro than I can begin to quantify all in an effort to make the pain go away. I eventually got discharged from PT with them saying, 'there's nothing eel we can do for you' and found my way to a Pain Management Specialist. I was rather unhappy with the prospect of being on daily pain medication for the rest of my life, so I started with Chiro. He couldn't say with absolute certainty, because his specialty is bones, but for every 1lb they take off the chest it reduces the strain on the muscles of your back by 10-12lbs.

I went ahead and had a consultation with a local plastic surgeon (I'm not going to say who at this time as I still have mixed feelings about it). I honestly went into this a bit blind. I chose my surgeon, because he did a consult with my daughter and was referred to him by our dentist of all people. He's a board certified plastic surgeon that is generally highly regarded. I went into the consultation and he was nothing, but confident about the whole thing. He said it would be no problem to get preapproval from my insurance with my documented history of back problems. The only caveat was that they don't 'accept' the insurance company's reimbursement rate for facility or anesthesia (this will be a point of interest shortly) and I would have to pain for that directly before they would schedule it. I wasn't excited about paying $3800 up front out of pocket, but I've been desperate to reduce my back pain so I figured it would be worn it.

We paid the fee and waited my journey to the other side. Like many I read these stories religiously in the weeks before my surgery and, hindsight being 20/20, not a one prepared me for the experience. I had to check in at 6:30am the day of my surgery, December 23rd. I was pretty nervous, because I just wasn't sure what recovery would be like with an 18 month old. I woke up at like 2:30am even though it was a 10 minute drive to the surgical center. The pre op stuff was pretty mild and actually did help put me at ease. My husband and daughter stayed with me for a little over a hour while the surgeon came and marked me up. He reiterated that he was very optimistic about the outcome and it should be a great birthday/Christmas gift (my birthday was surgery day). Just before walking me into the OR the nurse gave me a shot in the butt of Demerol and Phenergan.

We walked into the OR and the nurse did the surgical prep with me standing beside the table. I was actually quite calm, probably the Demerol and sleep deprivation. When she was done she has me climb on the table and tells me she's going to start restraining me. I'm a registered nurse by training, so I wasn't in the least bit concerned and just kept right on talking to her. After another minute or two I begin to feel warm and sleepy, so I tell the nurse, 'I'm definitely feeling that Demerol.' The next thing I know it felt like I had long nap and I'm kind of groggy and I can, ouch, ouch, feel him doing stitches on my left breast. I'm groggy, can't open my eyes and think, 'this must be the end and the anesthesia is wearing off early.' I start to panic, because it REALLY hurts and I can feel him start working on the right side. Suddenly my focus is on communicating the intense pain I am experiencing. I start thrashing on the table and I can feel them grabbing my shoulders to force me back down on the table. They're saying my name trying to get me to calm down and the last thing I remember is deciding to cry to let them know I was in pain. How could they not know I'm in pain if they see tears? My last real memory until later that afternoon is that sensation of your throat closing up when you're about to sob HARD, feeling like my chest was on fire and that I might die by listening to them. The surgeon called me that night, as he said he would, and the first thing he said was, 'WOW, WERE YOU HARD TO PUT UNDER!' That's when I realized whatever it was I felt it was NOT the end.

The healing and recovery has thankfully been uneventful. I don't think I could handle it if anything else had happened. They are quite a bit biggie than I was hoping for. During my last pre op appointment I said I wanted my post op over bust measurement to be 37" down from 43". At 6 weeks post op I'm 40". Other than a tear on my left nipple, aesthetically, they look great. They're fairly symmetrical and far perkier than they've ever been. BUT, it hasn't helped my back pain as much as I would have hoped, they're bigger than I wanted and I had to endure one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can have. I wake up in a panic several nights a week and have just been a mess mentally from this. Oh, and I got to pay $3800 for the privilege!

It's a rare risk to wake up in surgery and not in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen to me. I posted a pre op of me marked up and one with me a few days post op. I'll post a current one with nipple tear soon.

Let's see if therapy helps

I've been having a lot of anxiety and problems sleeping, so I decided to get some help for it. Before my accident I was a mental health nurse and I can't believe how much it has come in handy for my chronic back pain, but it feels worthless for the surgery trauma. My regular doctor has Rx'd me clonazepam with the instruction that if I need it daily I'll be started on a daily non-habit forming med (one of the things I like about her, she's a less is more kinda doc). I've been seeing a therapist to help with the chronic pain stuff so she has been in the loop regarding my surgery. I had my first session with her since the surgery the other day and even I was surprised at the stuff that was spilling out of me and my physical reaction to telling the story/experience. For the first time in our 5 or 6 sessions she was having to actively counsel me through something. Most of the time it's things she'll offer up for consideration. Where as our last session I felt almost out of control, like my emotions had run away with me and I wouldn't be able to regain control of myself unless I listened to what she was saying. I'm not overcome daily by the negative emotions and memories, and I'm hoping the therapy, time, and a few meds will help this pass.

I consider myself a realistic optimist. When contemplating how stressed I should feel about something, I usually do some form of gauging the odds, as many others do to. Getting over pre procedure anxiety I had to do it more. You know what we nurses and doctors always say, 'You'll be fine. It's extraordinarily rare for anything to happen... I've never seen/known of anyone it happened to'. So much of everything we do in life is the calculated choice that it's VERY unlikely to happen to you. Now I've had this experience that, as my regular doctor told me, is pretty much the single worst experience a person can have in healthcare. I can't help but, wonder what's next? Plane crash? Struck by lightening? Maybe it can go the other way and I'll win a million dollars! I just feel primed for freakish things to happen to me now.

funny follow-up with my pain doc

So I had a follow-up with my pain doctor after seeing my therapist. He's the reason I'm seeing my therapist in the first place. I had an uncommon reaction to him doing trigger point injections the second time we me and he thought I was crazy and seeking drugs. I realize I'm really down this rabbit hole that is chronic pain and honestly was to a point myself where I needed to see a therapist so I was game to play his game. I realized during the appointment that that it was a chemical dependency and psyche evaluation, so yeah I've had to play along with a guy that thinks I'm crazy since September. He hears what happened to me in surgery and he explained some things about my experience from the anesthesiologist perspective. He tells me he's also an anesthesiologist and that once consciousness is in motion the fastest they can put you back under still takes about a minute. He asks me how my back and neck were feeling and how much was removed. They removed 412g from the right and 384 from the left, or about a pound each. When I tell him that, he got that bug eyed look we all know when someone gets an inkling of how big our boobs actually are. He wrote a letter of support to my insurance company that a reduction would help, so he says to me, 'wow, you know before surgery I had NO idea you would be such a good candidate for a reduction but that's a good amount of tissue!' Now, my style isn't in the least bit frumpy, but we're all experts at hiding our girls one way or another. I think most people just thought I was fat. I saw someone recently that I hadn't seen since October and when I told her about the surgery she says, 'oh, that's what it was! I thought you lost 20lbs, like a New Year's resolution.'

Not sure what I should say to the plastic surgeon

I want to discuss my experience with my plastic surgeon more, but I'm mot sure what to say or where to begin. I'm a firm believer it never hurts to ask. I'm pretty unhappy that I paid the same anesthesia and facility fees as the gals that had these perfect operative experiences. I'm not trying to get anything else out of it, but come on! I paid for a service and didn't really get it. My next follow-up is late April so, I've got some time to think on it, but I intend to have the conversation that goes along the lines of, 'I want my fees back.' He can keep the money he got for giving me new boobs, but I wasn't properly sedated so I don't feel like I should pay that too. Besides it would be cheaper for him to refund my anesthesia fee than to end up in the position of defending a malpractice claim. I just don't want the confrontation, but more likely than not, his response will be of intense defensiveness. Not that I would blame him, but I'm just trying to be pragmatic about it. If someone came to paint my house and broke the toilet while they were at it, I would want them to discount the bill to reflect that. It's the same thing to me.

more pictures

Thanks everyone for your support and well-wishes. Even though I've been getting counseling, a part of me was in a bit of denial over the whole experience. Like maybe other people would come forward and tell me they had similar experiences and it would be no big deal. Since so few people do experience it most of the responses/reactions have come from the other person's anxiety ie the conversation stops completely because the person is visibly horrified or it quickly turns in to a humorous anecdote. Neither of which are helpful for me to sort out my own feelings.

Here are some current pictures. I have scar strips on them now. They scarring is actually pretty decent and I normally get horrible scars. Not keloid, but they stay raised and dark for at least a year usually two. The close up shot is of the nipple tear. It's very fine and he did a good job of having the edges meet well, but you can see where the circle is a little lopsided where the edges of the tear meet the larger boob. It's not evenly round like the other side.

Getting better, but not enough

Having the surgery has been such a mixed bag for me. It's mainly helped my posture so it reduces the strain in my mid back quite a bit. Now that I'm 6 weeks post op and cleared for full activities I can feel the same old problems creeping back in. I'm pretty frustrated about that since I didn't have a major problem with them before and I had to go through something intensely traumatic to get to the other side. The biggest change for my back pain pre and post op is that I've finally stopped resisting taking narcotic meds throughout the day like my pain doctor has wanted from the beginning. This whole experience has just made me more bitter about the car accident that caused all my back problems to being with.

I know this is a side issue, but it's indescribable the anger, grief, and frustration at knowing I'll never return to the woman I was 2 years ago. Moreover I worked with kids for 10 years before becoming a nurse so my adult life is filled with experiences with other people's kids that, best case scenario, I will experience in intense pain now that I have my own. There's a lot of things, like cradling my newborn, that just weren't doable. It's like the mom I had planned on being died that day and I'm left patching holes that I can't necessarily identify.

old before pics

Here are some pics from about 10-15 years ago. Looking at these my new boobs are more like my pre Weight-Loss, pre baby boobs.
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

He's a good surgeon and the aesthetic results turned out fine. Planning or responding to changes in anesthesia is a bit light. I'm disappointed that they didn't work with me better before and after the surgery in addressing anesthesia issues, but apparently it's alright by them that I preface his good work with, "I woke up in the middle of it in pain, thrashed around on the table and started to cry in an effort to communicate my pain, before they were able to put me under fully." He gets three stars, because I didn't die or have any significant post op complications, and my new boobs are mostly symmetrical, even with the small tear on my left nipple.

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