Relief at Last (Yes!) - Arizona

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I'm 43 years old, 5'4" with a...

I'm 43 years old, 5'4" with a 36CCC/38DD bra size. I've had large breasts since I first developed at age 12. It seems that I went from nothing to a B cup overnight and then up from there. Twice before I have been referred for breast reduction surgery due to neck and back pain, once at 25 and again at 35, but I haven't had the courage to go through with it until now. My surgery is scheduled for May 17th.
I've been reading these reviews since I booked the surgery 8 weeks ago and the information that everyone has shared has made a huge difference in my comfort level going forward. I feel like I have clear and realistic ideas about what I can expect and I want to thank all the women who openly shared their experiences. I've decided to share mine as well in case it can help someone else make the decision or prepare for their surgery.

I interviewed 4 doctors over the period of about a year before deciding on the final one I met. I was pre-approved by my insurance company (United Healthcare) for the surgery with two of the other doctors; however, the doctor I've chosen does not accept insurance. My insurance doesn't provide out-of-network benefits so I am paying out-of-pocket. Although my insurance company did not confirm a minimum amount that would need to be taken for me to be covered, two of the doctors assured me that it would have to be at least 500 gm for them to actually cover it afterward. The same two doctors told me that they would ideally only want to take 300-350 gm if insurance wasn't a consideration. It was then that I decided to pay for it myself. I felt that I needed to do what was best for me, rather than try to meet the insurance requirements. This opened the door to looking at other doctors and I think it was the right decision for me. I have been fortunate to have saved up some money and have a boyfriend and family members who are helping out as well which has made it possible.

Since booking the surgery, I've had so many emotions swirling around and some thoughts that maybe I'm not that big after all. I've even had days when my breasts looked significantly smaller to me, which made me wonder about my decision. I've had to remind myself that although I'm not as large as some others having the surgery, my reality is that I do experience back pain, shoulder grooving and difficulty buying tops and dresses.

I think, thanks to the women who have posted here, and a very thorough pre-op appointment, that I am logistically ready for the surgery. I've been very busy at work getting ready to take time off, which also keeps my mind from dwelling too much on the upcoming ordeal.

I think I have most of what I need. I'm going to ...

I think I have most of what I need. I'm going to take tomorrow off work to take care of any last minute things. The only thing I don't have yet is a second bra. My doctor will give me one for the first week, but then he said I can switch to my own. He suggested a Genie bra or an Ahh bra. Does any one have experience with either of thesr or another they'd recommend?

I can't believe that I'm 12 days post-op and feel...

I can't believe that I'm 12 days post-op and feel so good. I want to share my experience for anyone who is still on the fence and scared of the aftermath like I was.

The day before surgery: I took the day off work and was so glad that I did. Seems like I had a million and one things to do before the surgery. I recommend doing this if you can swing it. I spent the day with my mom getting the house ready for recovery (I set up one station downstairs next to a recliner and the other next to my bed on the 2nd floor, not knowing where I would feel like being). I have lots of stairs in my house so I thought I might not want to be traveling up and down much. It turned out that weren't an issue at all anyway. "Recovery stations" consisted of extra little pillows to support my arms, light, snuggly blankets, plastic lidded cups with straws (good decision since glass with water is heavier), a phone charger in each area (I knew that's how I'd be in touch with friends and family), books in each area and pen and notebook. Also packed a little overnight bag since we stayed in a small motel near the surgery center the first night to avoid a long drive back and forth for my early post-op appt. the next morning. Stocked up the kitchen with good foods from the healing diet that I found on another website which is also a great source of information:

Surgery day: Arrived at the surgery center at 8 a.m. for a 10 a.m. surgery time. The surgery nurse was so sweet and spent time with me and my mom and boyfriend letting us know how the day would go and what they could expect for a pickup time and post-op care that night and the following few days. Of course I got my period that morning which had me worried, but she totally reassured me that it happens all the time and explained that she would be cathetarizing me after I was under since the surgery was expected to be about 4 hours long. After I was in a gown, the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me. We discussed the cocktail he was going to give me which he tailored after hearing about my family history of problems with vomiting, moriphine and demerol. I was also given an anti-nausea patch behind my ear since I have a very low threshold for motion sickness and he explained that he used 5 different drugs to block all receptors that could contribute to nausea. This was a total success as was not sick at all afterward and had a full meal for dinner within 2 hours of waking up! He also said he would be giving me Versed in the IV that would cause me to experience some amnesia for a few hours to up to a day after the surgery. The worst of it was for the people around me who tired of having the same conversation with me over and over. After that I remember nothing...for at least the next 24 hours! I guess I said my goodbyes and got up and walked into the operating room. After the 4 1/2 hour surgery, my mom and boyfriend were called to meet me in the recovery room. I think I was in there for about 2 hours after waking up and then they took me to the hotel. I was given Percocet for pain control and my caretakers report that I was wired and didn't go to sleep for a few hours. I ate a meal, watched TV and I guess bossed them around a lot. :P It's weird to not remember any of it and that evening earned me the nickname "spider monkey". I guess I was totally lucid, but not really willing to lay down and rest as much as I should so they had their hands full until bedtime.

Day One: The doctor had not decided whether he was going to do the anchor cut or lollipop (verticle scar incision) before surgery. He thought he'd be taking out about 300 gm and probably could do the verticle scar. As it turned out, I had more and denser tissue than he thought and he ended up taking over 400 gm from each and did the anchor cut to make sure the skin would come together nicely. I did have drains (which I really dreaded). My first followup was at 8 a.m. the next morning, hopefully to get the drains out. It was not too be. I ended up having the drains the entire weekend and it really turned out to be not so bad. The bra they provided was a nice post-surgical bra with hooks in the front, hooks in the back with 3 adjustments and velcro at the shoulders for taking down each side individually. It's a Contour brand and I recommend it if you have to supply your own bra...nice compression and access without being too tight. I've seen them on the Contour website. The drains stuck out the sides under my arms and weren't much of a bother except that the left side was more swollen in that area and pretty sore. All sutures are internal with those inside the breast dissolving in 6 months and those at the skin in a few weeks. There was little to no oozing from any incisions and very little dark bruising except on the right at the drain site. (Which my mom said was hurting in the post-op recovery room, but I don't remember it.) I spent the rest of that day in the recliner napping, watching TV and I did use some cold packs under my arms and on top of my breasts to relieve discomfort and swelling, though not directly on the skin, on incisions or the nipples. The cold packs helped A LOT. I was pretty out of it on the Percocet so I set a 10 min. timer on my phone to remind me to move the cold pack to another spot.

Day Two (Sat.) was spent pretty much the same as day one. I remember more of this day and again, used the Percocet every 6 hours to stay ahead of any pain and cold packs to keep swelling and discomfort to a minimum. I drank a LOT of water and one cup of warm water with the juice from a lemon to help reduce swelling. Also controlled my salt intake very strictly and ate higher protein than usual to help with healing. I'm a vegetarian so this is more of a challenge for me. Had a couple of healthy fruit/ veggie smoothies with protein powder and some greek yogurt. I won't say that I didn't have any discomfort, but it was very manageable and not as bad as I thought it would be. Oh, I should also say that I was sleeping on my back on a wedge with a layer of pillows to get a good 45 degree angle. I had folded towels by my sides under my arms which kept me from rolling since I prefer my side to sleep. My back is in pretty bad shape so I also took 1/2 valium at night for a muscle relaxant and help sleep the through the night.

Day Three (Sun). NIGHTMARE! I woke up feeling a little under the weather and by 10 a.m. I had full blown migraine like no other on both sides of my head. I then became very nauseous and felt like vomiting. I can't describe how bad this headache was and it had me very scary and panicked. My boyfriend called the answering service and my PS called him back within about 30 seconds. He said it was a reaction to the Percocet and that I should stop taking it immediately and switch to Tylenol. After a couple of hours of torture, the headache wore off and I decided any breast pain would be welcome after that. Sunday was more difficult from a pain standpoint, but I think it was more to do with my problem with the Percocet than the surgery. I have had this reaction to Vicodin in the past so I knew it was a risk. To his credit, the doctor called to check on my again later that afternoon.

Day Four (Mon.) I had my 2nd followup appointment and was able to get the drains removed. The right one hurt for about a second when he pulled it out and the left one I couldn't really feel at all. The doctor was very pleased with my healing progress and doesn't think that I'll have any incision wounds that don't heal if things continue on this path. From this point on he suggested that I try an Ahhh bra or a Genie bra if I found the surgery bra to be too constricting. I was surprised that I would be released from compression so soon, but he said it's not a problem.

The rest of the week was fairly active for me. I have managed with Tylenol and now I'm not taking even that regularly. I started driving on Friday. The soreness is transcient and usually indicates that I'm doing too much. Friday I had my 3rd followup appointment (Day 8) and the doctor removed my steri-strips. He said everything looks good and I shouldn't have to go back again until week 4 unless I have some concerns or questions come up. I'm to put Aquafor and gauze on the incisions for 5 days. I am allowed full range of motion with my arms so long as the movements are controlled and no lifing heavy weight. I've been alternativing between the Ahhh bra, a cheap front hook sports bra from WalMart, and the surgery bra. The Genie bra still does not fit me-- too small :( I am wearing a 38D and the PS said that he thinks I'll be about 10% smaller once all the swelling is gone-- I hope that's enough to get me down to a C cup. Doc said he took as much as he could, since he knew I wanted to be small, without endangering my blood supply. I think that's the best outcome I could hope for.

As far as some of the things I was worried about beforehand:
Drains -- didn't want them, but turned out to be no big deal and probably a good thing in the end.
Pain -- don't remember the worst of it and wasn't as bad as I feared.
Anesthesia -- worried that I'd 1) wake up during the surgery, 2) wake up sick or 3 ) not wake up. None of those things happened and it was very easy and smooth process. That doctor makes all the difference!
Size --- not as small as I'd like yet, but still hoping
Scars -- not worried at all...plan to use silicone sheets if needed
Relief from back/neck pain --- so far I've had a large reduction in my neck pain. I need to see how it is when I'm back at work and on a computer 8 hours/day, but so far, so good.
What boyfriend would think: I was worried that he'd be freaked out or turned off by the drains, incisions, brusing, swelling. So far he's been very amazed at how well everything is healing. The words he's used are "beautiful, perfect and hot". I never heard that from him about my boobs before! Yay! An unintended benefit!

I would definitely do this again (though wouldn't have said that on Sunday) and am grateful that it's over. Now if I can just figure out how to give you some before and after photos. Thanks again for all the information that was shared here. I feel like I had a much better experience and was very prepared after hearing your stories. Good luck to anyone who is pre-op and keep will all be okay!

I'm at 26 days post-op and have hit a very small...

I'm at 26 days post-op and have hit a very small bump in the road. Last week, at 3 weeks I noticed that the skin on the outsides of the vertical insicions seemed very red and I was also having a lot of soreness on the horizontal incisions and the ribs below. Due to the redness, my PS wanted to see me to make sure everything was progressing okay. He said everything looked perfect and that some redness around the incisions indicated that blood was coming to area and doing some healing. He also said that maybe I am one who needs more support than the Ahh bra provides for the lower incisions and that some women just stayed sore longer than others. I was happy with this news and decided to look for another bra. The difficulty was that bras with more support also applied more pressure to the band area where I'm super sore and can't tolerate it.

Sunday morning (day 23) I noticed that there was an area about the size of a dime at the intersection where the nipple incision meets the vertical incision on the right breast that seemed quite a bit redder than it was before and than the surrounding tissue. Monday morning it was still there, but my boyfriend didn't think it was much redder and I remembered what the doctor said about extra blood flow and healing so I decied to just watch it. I then had a very busy day shopping for a new bra and also some new dresses and tops. I knew I was probably overdoing it a bit, but couldn't resist once I realized I could actually wear a dress that would fit for the first time in 20 years! I found two new sports bras made by Anita that provided a lot of support and the bands didn't hurt me. I wore one of the new bras that afternoon and evening while making dinner and watching TV afterward. I did feel much more compression than I had since leaving the surgery bra so I thought I'd go back to the Ahh bra for overnight. When I took it off I was surprised with the amount of redness that was in that area and that it was now the size of a quarter and had also spead down the vertical scar area. The outside of the right breast and the nipple were also extremely sore and swollen. About 5 minutes after getting into bed, I realized that my nipple was lightly bleeding through the bra at the lower cresent incision. This totally freaked me out since I hadn't had any bleeding or seeping since the first day after surgery. I was sure I had harmed myself with all the movement and activity of trying on so many clothes. I used gauze in the bra overight and the bleeding turned into a light yellow fluid. The strange part was that I couldn't actually see an opening where it was coming from, but the sensation inside the nipple was very different and the incision was sticky.

The next morning I emailed photos to my PS and he wanted to see me again. By the time my appointment came around at 4 p.m., the redness had started to fade a bit. The seeping had stopped that morning and hadn't resumed all day. My PS said it might be an infectiion around a stitch and that my body was probably handling it. He said the incisions are still completely intact. He gave me the option to start back on the Keflex just to make sure it didn't get worse and outlined the areas of redness so I could monitor the progress. This morning it looked better and the soreness and swelling have improved a bit too. The doctor said that increasing redness accompanied by increasing pain that lasts for a day or two is a good reason to call and get checked out.

I've been extremely tired the last 24 hours and I don't know if it's the lack of sleep from worry, infection or maybe a side effect of the antibiotic. I'm scheduled to return to work on monday so I'm very grateful it is not a more serious complication.

Thought I'd share the story in case someone else has something similar happen. Monday was a very sleepless night. Also, the doctor assured me that since there wasn't really any muscle work done, he was not worried about me doing any real damage to myself at this point with regular daily activities. However, I'm still going to continue to be cautious based on feedback of all the women on this site.

5 weeks post-op today! It seems like the surgery...

5 weeks post-op today! It seems like the surgery was only yesterday. Thought I'd update with photos from today to mark progess and also include one from last week's infection. The antibiotic seems to have cleared up any infection that was brewing and I've felt a lot better. Most of last week I was so tired and swollen...I thought it was from the antibiotic or infection, but I ended up getting my period on Thurs. and that brought tons of relief.

I returned to work 3 days ago and have found it to be okay as far as my energy goes, but challenging with more swelling and discomfort. I'm back to sleeping on the wedge which I think is helping and I'm really watching my diet...low salt, tons of water, some lemon tea and lots of greens and lean protein to try to help with the healing and swelling. Most people at work knew what I was having done and they've been very supportive. They said they can notice a big difference. I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around the change and I think I still feel bigger than I am. My boyfriend also said that for some reason the photos look much larger than I do in person so I guess that probably doesn't help. Did anyone else have trouble seeing themselves as different after the surgery?
Santa Monica Plastic Surgeon

I could not be happier with the doctor, his staff or my outcome thus far! I highly recommend Dr. Cohen for breast reduction. Dr. Cohen and his staff have been fantastic. They are always available and he is extremely responsive to my concerns. Please feel free to private message me if you'd like more information.

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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