10 Years of Living In Pain, The Journey Has Begun - Atlanta, GA

Now's the time, and the serious journey has begun!...

Now's the time, and the serious journey has begun! I have been desperately in need of a breast reduction for the past 10 years. I had a hysterectomy done in 2005, and ever since then, my breasts have grown and grown. I went from a C to a DDD in that time. My back and shoulders are in constant pain, and I have the most intense numbness in both hands and tingling down both arms. I've started seeing an out of network chiropractor in April, to help me with my back and shoulder pain. I constantly take ibuprofen on a daily basis to help with the pain and headaches. I use heat and cold packs at night to help me sleep. I have to buy new bras every 2-3 month. I'm so paranoid that my insurance won't cover the surgery. I have Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. I've started to collect the names of plastic surgeons to start the consult process. I have my first appointment with my GA Kaiser primary doctor to start the process with Kaiser in Georgia. I had Kaiser 5 years ago in California, and my doctor at the time told me that if I lost 20 lbs, she'd consider referring me to a PS. I was so broken hearted by that news that I tucked the idea away, and tried to deal with the daily pain. I've lost and kept off 10 lbs, and I'm comfortable with my weight. I don't smoke, I don't snack, and I drink water, and a glass of wine with dinner (no sodas). It just feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest all day, every day, and the numbness is beyond comprehension. I can feel myself falling into a depression, because I don't want to spend the rest of my life in constant pain and numbness. I'll be 50 next year. I'm reading everyone's reviews, and I get so sad, because I'm scared of the insurance process.

Just came back from my chiropractor, and....

I just came back from a now routine, twice weekly visit to my chiropractor, and she said she'd write a letter recommending surgery. She also gave me the names of two plastic surgeons to add to my consult list. I see my primary doctor on 8/28 to start the process with Kaiser, but I know it'll be all in-network, so the information that she gives me will be given to my primary doctor. If he doesn't budge (like my previous Kaiser doctor in 2010), I'll be promptly changing my insurance to BCBS during open enrollment season in October. Until then, I'll keep going to my chiropractor, taking tons of ibuprofen, using my heated rice packs, and doing my strengthening exercises. I'll have to start wrapping my breasts for comfort instead of wearing bras.

Trying To Fight The Depression of The Pain... and Waiting.

I see my Chiropractor again on Monday 8/24, and my PCP on Friday 8/28, which can't come fast enough. I read this forum every night, and I get scared and sad that my insurance company won't approve me. I'll fight and fight... but the pain, numbness, and weight of my breasts are unbearable. Thank God for Icy Hot, ibuprofen, microwavable rice bags, etc. I want to start scheduling my consults. By the way, are most consults free? I have quite a few PS names lined up in my general area. I'm so envious of all the women who were successful in getting insurance approval. I can't afford the surgery without insurance, for now. Believe me, if I could pay for the surgery without insurance, it would be done already. I pray every night for insurance approval.

Chiropractor Visit Today

My Chiropractor gave me a letter of surgery recommendation today. This is a great step forward, I'll give the letter to my Kaiser PCP on Friday. Here's hoping....

Primary Dr. Visit Today

Today, I met with my primary doctor to discuss if surgery is a possibility. He said I was the first patient to request a BR. I explained all my symptoms, and told him that I didn't want to live the rest of my life taking pain meds for pain. The only thing I don't have are the shoulder grooves from my bra straps, but I have intense tingling and numbness in both arms and hands, which my chiropractor said is from the weight of my breasts. He said Kaiser does require certain things be done before surgery, which I'm already doing (OTC meds, therapeutic bras, chiropractor, massage therapy, etc). At first, things weren't sounding very promising, but then, he sent in a plastic surgery consult referral! I see Dr. Eric A. Odyssey, the Kaiser PS, on Monday Aug 31. Even if Kaiser doesn't do it, at least I'm going through the steps to see how to get it done.

I'm a 40 F!

I also found out I'm a 40 F!!! :(

Good News Today!

I met with my plastic surgeon today, and he said if I lose 25 lbs., he would definitely submit the paperwork to insurance and do the surgery. Kaiser has a strict BMI to height scale that they use. He said that all my other symptoms qualify me for the surgery, and that I have more than enough tissue to take to definitely make me a B. He asked me what size I wanted to be, and I was scared to tell him, for fear that he would tell me that it would be too small. I told him I wanted to be as small as he can make me. I brought my husband to the visit to make sure I heard what I heard. The doctor then described the technique and showed me a binder of his work. He also said that he does not use drains (thank God!). We also talked about things like "dog ears" and if I had them, he could fix those in his office. I was happy with everything we talked about.

He took measurements and photos. He has a very calm demeanor, and my husband was impressed with him, so much that he says I shouldn't change insurance carriers. What great news. Now comes the hard part of losing the weight. The doctor suggested water aerobics as a great way to lose the weight. I have a treadmill at home, and I have a very physical job, that requires me to walk the majority of the day. I'm not a foodie, so the hard part will be making myself eat 5-6 small meals a day. I only eat when I'm hungry. I'm not a grazer. I'm researching all I can so I can get this ball rolling. I can't believe only 25 lbs is blocking my way to feeling better. What happy news!

Moving Right Along

I've lost 4 lbs since Monday 8/31. I've made a total lifestyle change. I found a great weight loss app called "Lose It!" I have to track everything that I eat. I've become totally aware of what I'm eating. The hard part was increasing the meals, but I eat (during the work day) breakfast at 6:30 am, 1st snack at 10 am, lunch at 12:30 pm, another snack at 3:30 pm, then dinner at 7 pm. I've become hyper aware of calorie counts, and I make sure I walk every day. I can't believe I lost 4 pounds already. 21 pounds to go. I can do this, especially if this is the only thing that's standing in the way of my surgery.

Monday is Weigh-In Day!

We spent Saturday and Monday at our local (and very large) lake. We took our boat out, and zipped around a bit. Every time we hit a big wave, the boat would bounce up and slap down on the water really hard. I had to hold my breasts every time.

Today, I weighed myself, and I'm down another pound! 20 more to go. I can't believe I've lost 5 pounds in a week. I'm really disciplined, and I'm sticking to the food/exercise tracker app, Lose It!, like gangbusters! I'm on target to reach my goal weight by Monday, November 16th (if my husband would stop eating my weight loss food). I can't wait to call the doctor's office for the weigh in, and then to schedule my surgery. This would be a great Christmas present to myself. I'm so motivated and excited. I hope that my weight loss won't make the doctor tell me my breasts are too small for the BF.

The Weight Is Still Melting Off.

I'm rolling into week 3. It's turning into a lifestyle change, which will be good after the surgery. I weighed in at 221 yesterday. Every pound I lose is a step closer to the surgery. I guess it's easier for me, because I'm not a foodie, and really not a junk food eater. The food tracker is great, because I can put the food I'm going to eat in the night before, and stick to it. What makes me so disciplined, is that my surgery is dependent on me sticking to the plan.

Yesterday, my husband and I had to return a boat part at Wal-Mart and we walked past the bra section, and I got so excited. I can't wait to throw all my old big bras away, and start buying the smaller bras.

I'm really hoping to have the surgery in December. Lord, hear my prayers.

The Weight Is SLOWLY Coming Off

Of course, it's not coming off fast enough for me. This lifestyle change has been eye opening, really becoming aware of what I eat, when I eat, how much I eat, etc. I weighed in today, and I'm officially 10 pounds less than when I started. I'm walking on the treadmill at least 3 times a week, and I do a lot of walking for work. I still struggle with the food part of it, because I was an under eater. It's tricky trying to figure out what my caloric intake should be and what triggers the weight loss. I know I'll be much healthier in the end, but all I can ever think about is getting approved for the breast reduction surgery. I don't come on this site that often, because it depresses me to see how easy it seems for others to get the surgery. I know everyone has their own struggle.

I Forgot To Add...

I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and I bought button front pajamas and two of those soft front close bras in size 38 B.... getting ready for the surgery I so wish and pray to have. I couldn't help it. I need a new bra in the size that I am 40 F (I went down a band size), but I refuse to buy another big bra.

Monday Weigh In!!!

I weighed myself yesterday, knowing that there would be no change, and I've lost 3 more pounds. As of 8/31, I've lost 12 pounds. 13 more to go and the weight will be off my chest, and no more back and shoulder pain. Goodbye arm numbness! I'm so excited.

New Start!!! The Real Journey Starts Today!

Great progress made today. I'm officially with BCBS of GA, and had my first appointment with my new PCP. I love her! I went in, and directly told her I've been trying to get a BR for the past 11 years. She did a complete exam, and immediately recommended the surgeon she uses for BRs. She had her assistant type up the letter recommending the surgery, and that she'd send it directly to BCBS. She also scheduled me for a diagnostic mammogram for 1/18/16, and my PS consult is on 1/25. During the scheduling for the PS consult, the lady I spoke with over the phone told me to bring all of my documentation, because they would send it to BCBS that day. Talk about moving fast! I'm so elated. I really hope I can get this done before May, when my daughter is getting married.

I'm still losing weight, although slowly. I weighed in on 8/31/15 at 229 lbs, and now today, I weighed in at 214 lbs! My PCP even said the didn't think there was a weight requirement with BCBS, so that's a load off my mind, trying to lose weight. I'll still try to lose as much as I can, for my own health's sake.

Today was very promising.

I'm So Mad!!!

Today was the mammogram appointment, but I got stuck babysitting my granddaughter, even though my daughter knew I had an appointment. Long story short, it took an hour to drive to the appointment, with an 11th month old baby, a stroller, a new truck that I'm not used to driving, driving on highways, etc., all piled on the fact that I have Asperger's Syndrome (new situations FREAK ME OUT). When I arrived there, I was turned away, because they wouldn't allow the baby to go back with me. I had to pack everything back up and another hour's drive. I'm so mad. My consult with my new PS is next Monday 1/25. We'll see what happens. This mammogram wasn't scheduled by the PS, it was scheduled by my OB/GYN, so let's see what happens. I know he'll schedule one.

5 Lbs to Goal Weight!

I've officially lost 20 lbs since 8/31/15. I'm 5 lbs from the surgery goal weight of 204 lbs, set by my previous Kaiser PS. My GYN said that she didn't think there was a weight requirement with BCBS of GA, and I haven't seen my new PS yet (will see him next Monday). I still want to lose more weight, just to be as healthy as I can be. I'm walking every day, but it's murder on my chest and back. All for the greater good. I'm still heartbroken about not being able to get my mammogram last Monday, but onward I march. I can only do my doctor's appts on Mondays, because of work. I pray and pray that all goes well with this consultation.

Had Consultation #2 Today!

My husband and I just got back from my second PS consultation today. I'm always in a tailspin, from all the info the doctor/nurse gives. I liked the doctor. He cracked a couple jokes, which put me at ease. He measured me, asked me what size I wanted to be, and made sure I had all my questions answered. He stepped out, and the nurse took pictures of me. He stuck his head back in to make sure I didn't have any more questions. He said he would take 400 g from the right and 450 g from the left. I didn't realize my left was larger than my right. He said he would make my areolas 40 mm (I was hoping for 38 mm, but he said they would be in proportion to my breasts). I told him I was adamant that I wanted to be a B, even though I know he can't guarantee it. I told him I wanted him to take the max out, because I didn't want to be sitting in his office trying to get another one in 5 years. He said he felt confident that BCBS of GA would approve it. I gave the nurse my letters from my chiropractor and my GYN. The financial lady in the office said she was sending my info for approval today, even though I haven't had my mammogram yet. They want me to get the mammogram asap, and I'm scheduled for 2/1. The nurse also told us that I would stay overnight in the hospital for observation. She says it's rare that he uses drains, so that's a plus. The bad part was that I just switched to this insurance provider on Jan 1st, and I haven't met my deductible of $1300, so I have to come up with that before the surgery. I can't believe it's happening so fast. Now is that dreaded time that I've read about so many times on this site: waiting on the approval. My fingers are crossed, and I'm in constant prayer.
My husband asked how soon the surgery would be if everything was approved, and the scheduling lady said as early as Thursday, February 18th! Four days before my 50th birthday. What a great birthday present that would be, pain and all!


No word yet.... this waiting is horrible, but it's been less than a week.

And Waiting, and Waiting...

On Friday, I called BCBS just to see the status of my authorization. The lady said it was pending, which is a good sign. I have my rescheduled mammogram on Monday morning. So I'll resume waiting... and waiting... and waiting.

Had My Mammogram Today!

I had my mammogram today. Other than being really cysty, the radiologist says everything's okay. I WALKED my results over to the PS (whose office was down the hallway and around the corner). And we wait... and we wait.... and we wait...


BCBS just called and told me they're denying my authorization, because the amount the surgeon wants to take out is 400-450 grams, BCBS requires 687 grams per breast. I told my plastic surgeon that, and even showed him the Schnur scale, taken from the BCBS website. I told my PS to take as much out as needed to get approved. I'm devastated. I don't know what to do next. I know I have to start the appeal process. Should I change plastic surgeons? I'm devastated.

2nd Consult Today

I saw Dr. Mullins again today (at his request), to discuss my appeal. He agreed to take out 690 grams per breast. He said I would end up a C, and I stressed a B... and I will, again, and again, even as he's wheeling me down the hall on the way to surgery. I really like my doctor. He's very refined and easy to talk to. He said he'd stress to BCBS that it's a serious matter. My family doctor also wrote me a letter that I submitted with the appeal. So now, I breathe and wait.

Waiting, and Waiting....

This waiting is unbearable. I know it can take up to a month to hear back, but I'm on pins and needles!

BCBS Finally Got My Appeal Paperwork!

I called BCBS today, and they finally received my appeal paperwork yesterday. Now the real waiting begins. Ugh!

The Run Around!!!

Has anyone ever gotten an additional consultation from another plastic surgeon while in the middle of an appeal? My pain is unbearable physically and mentally. I'm at my wits end. Maybe a new doctor would submit my request correctly.


I received my approval letter in the mail today. It says "based on the information provided, coverage is approved." It was dated March 18, and today is the 25th.... I live in the same town that the insurance company is in. They sure aren't in any hurry to let anyone know anything. I've been on pins and needles ever since this started, back in August 2015. What an ordeal. It's extremely mentally taxing, the hoops they make you jump through. I immediately called my surgeon's office to see when the surgery can be scheduled, and of course, they closed early for Good Friday. I have to sit on this all weekend, but it is a load off my mind, and my stress level has decreased immensely. I hope they can schedule the surgery as soon as possible. I'm so excited. Thanks to everyone who gave me encouraging words.

Time To Schedule!!!

My PS office called me today to give me an estimate of what we'd pay ($570) and to ask when I'd want to schedule the surgery. I told her ASAP! She said it's a possibility that I'd have it this Thursday, but the scheduler has to call me. I'm so excited. It's happening so fast. What a ride!

Got My Date!!!

The office called me back and my surgery is scheduled for Wednesday April 13, at 8 am. My pre-op is scheduled for Friday April 8th. I'm so excited. 16 days and counting.

I'm Bouncing Off The Walls!

I love my surgery countdown app. I also went shopping today... didn't mean to. I was supposed to get cross stitching supplies, but I ended up at WalMart. I found a new bathing suit (that I may have to take back... I'm feeling hopeful), but I needed a zip up light jacket that I'll wear daily while I'm healing. I'm so excited.

We paid our portion of the costs, which came up to $1119. The hospital called me yesterday to pre-register me. I received my pre-op registration paperwork in the mail today. It's really happening fast. Still not fast enough for me, but slow enough for me to get my bearings. I keep trying to imagine that whole day, from us driving to the hospital at 4:30 am, to checking in at 6 am, to getting marked up, and laying in the OR. I've wanted this for so long, and now it's actually happening. I'm trying not to drive my husband crazy.

Surgical Bra Size?

How will I know what size surgical bra I'll need?

Impatiently Waiting!

My pre-op is scheduled for this Friday 4/8, and my surgery is a week from today. It feels like time is ticking slowly by. I can't think of anything else. It feels so unreal. I was so caught up in the wanting. I guess I'll go cross stitch the time away.

Pre-Op Appointment Done!

It's happening! I had my pre-op appointment today. The PS's nurse gave me a 3 page handout, and my prescriptions, and sent me over to the hospital for a blood test. I can't believe it's happening. She said I probably won't have to have drains, and I will have an overnight stay in the hospital. As she was talking to me, I felt like she was talking to someone else. In less than 5 days, I'll be on the other side. I can't believe it.

I'm Restless

I can't sleep. I know it's something subconscious, because I'm not really nervous outwardly. I'm 1 day, 23 hours, 6 minutes, and 50 seconds from my surgery. It still feels like it's happening to someone else. I've wanted this for so long. I've been on the other side for so long. I'm a little nervous about the anesthesia. I don't know why, because I've had a hysterectomy, so I've had major surgery before. I think it's just worrying about the unknown.

We went grocery shopping for me yesterday. The pre-op nurse suggested protein based meals during recovery, specifically saying cottage cheese.... I love cottage cheese with pineapples, so we got plenty of that, and water. I'm going to be in the spare room, so I have that all ready, with batteries for my remote (I have over 200 movies stored on a huge hard drive, connected to our house router, so it plays directly on my TV), I have a large wedge pillow, my books, laptop, and iPad. All my prescriptions are on my nightstand. My little bag is packed for my overnight stay at the hospital. I'm actually really happy to be off work for 4-6 weeks (I hate my job). I'm really excited, but a little nervous, which is probably natural. I just can't believe it's actually happening. I can't wait to wear all the shirts and dresses in my closet that I couldn't wear before due to my large breasts.

The countdown has really begun.

Hours Away!!!

It's 6:44 pm, and I just ate my last meal.... a Burger King Whopper, so good! I have some low grade nerves going on. I was sneezy all day because of the pollen. I can't believe it's happening. I'm not looking forward to getting stuck with needles and IVs, but it's a necessary evil. I'm just going to chill out tonight so I can be relaxed tomorrow. Thanks for all your kind words and support during this journey. See you all on the other side.

I Made It!

I'm finally on the other side. I'm quite groggy and my pain is fluctuating between 2-4. I'll update more tomorrow once I'm home. I think the doctor told my husband that I'm a B.

I Love Them!!!

Still groggy, and I can't get a good sleep going. The nurse checked my incisions at 8 pm and I saw them. I love them!!! I'll give the play by play tomorrow.

Before and After pics

Surgery Day Play By Play part 1

I was so restless the night before the surgery, that I ended up getting out of bed, showering, and getting dressed by 4:30 am. We checked into the hospital at 5:30 am, and waited until they called my name. My husband and I went back, met my pre-op nurse Cora, and I changed into my hospital gown. About 30 minutes later, Dr. Mullins came into mark me. I was put off that he marked me free-handed, but I tucked that thought away. I lay back down and waited until the anesthesiologist came in. He looked like Clark Kent! I was so nervous about the anesthesia. They gave me a anti-nausea patch behind my ear, and started my knock out drugs. I remember being wheeled out, and I think I remember sliding onto the OR table. After that, I woke u in recovery, asking for a steak. My husband came back, and we waited until they wheeled me to my private room. Once I got into my bed, the circus began. All of my nurses were great (Loren, Pamela, Paige, Danielle, and Angel). They started me on Morphine, and I had 3 doses of that over the course of the night. The Morphine was making me itch, so they switched me to Dilaudid and that made me itch, and then they changed me to Oxycodone. They were giving me Benedryl at the same time to combat the itchiness. I was able to walk up and down the halls, and I went to the bathroom by myself. My husband took the "after" picture when Nurse Paige checked my dressings. I love they way they look. I wanted a 38mm areola, and Dr. Mullins gave me that. The bad thing is that I never really got to sleep last night.... with my hubby snoring on the sofa next to my bed. I'm quite drowsy right now, so I'll finish this review later.

Day Three

I'll find out next Thursday how much Dr. Mullins took out. I hate not being able to sleep on my side. I just can't get comfortable or get a good sleep. The pain is very manageable. So far, so good, so worth it.

Marena Bra

I also ordered a Morena post operative vest yesterday and it arrived today. I'll take it with me to my follow up appointment.

New Surgical Bra

1st Post Op Appointment

Tapes were removed (ouch) and replaced, swelling still on the left side, but Nurse Pat and Dr. Mullins were confident that all is well. I got the official ok to sleep on my side (thank God), shower, and drive. Last night was the worst night; I couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't fall asleep. I'm a side sleeper, so this has been the hardest part. I'm done with the antibiotics and official pain pills, so I'm transitioning to Tylenol. I see Dr. Mullins next Wednesday. I forgot to ask if I still have to wear this surgical bra 24/7. It's also irritating.

13 Days Post

I really hope I go back down to the size I was right after surgery. My right side is really swollen and painful underneath the incision line. I have my second follow up tomorrow. I know it's going to take months for them to settle, so I'm not really worried. Nurse Pat said they would change weekly.

2nd Post Op Appointment Yesterday

Dr. Mullins is pleased with my healing. I was really concerned about the pain and swelling in my right breast, but he says the pain will jump from the right to the left until they settle within about 6 months. They removed all the tapes and gave me the go to not wear anything at night (I hate sleeping in bras). I'll continue to wear something supportive during the day. Today, they look great. Hubbs and I went to Wal-Mart so I could get a couple of new sports bras. I hate the bottom band roll up, so I went up a band (40), but it seems I just have to lose some more weight. I kind of fell off my Lose It plan, not tracking, not measuring, not weighing, and kind of eating anything. I've only gained 2 lbs, but I need to get back on track.

I started cleaning out my closets, and trying on everything that I couldn't fit, and lo and behold! I can fit everything now. I took all my old bras to Goodwill yesterday. I kept one, so I can do a symbolic "bra burning" later today.

Even though I'm having considerable pain right now, it's the best decision I've ever made.

Virtual Bra Shopping!

I think I'm obsessed with my new boobs. I can't help looking at them, touching them, and feeling the scars. I think, because I wanted it for so long, and now it's happened (and so quickly), I can't wrap my head around it. I can't remember the last time I was a B cup, if ever. I keep measuring myself, almost daily, as if I can't believe the number. As of today, my band measurement is 38 inches, and my bust measurement is 41 inches. Before the surgery, I was 47 inches. My husband is treating me to a Victoria's Secret shopping trip tonight. I saw a cute little bralette that I want to wear under my tank top for the Hall & Oates concert on May 19th. I know I'll change by then, but I don't think drastically. I tried on that bathing suit I bought on March 31st, and it's a 38 C and it's too big :(. I hate taking things back, but I could use some tank tops. This is such new world for me.

I can't wait to get the OK to start working out again. I have to get back on track with my eating plan, because my belly is sticking out further than I'd like. I'm still healing, so I'm not too worried about it.

Happy healing.

My Victoria's Secret Swag

I'm still swollen, so these should look even better in the coming weeks, provided I can stop eating the Oreo Thin Mints. I haven't been able to fit VS bras since the 80s. Thank you Jesus! I'm having trouble mentally adjusting to this life change. One day at a time, I guess.

No More Rollup!

These seem to be working, in size 40. I need to lose weight!

My new best friends!

I think I'm settling into a 40 A/B. I could technically go without a bra. My nipples, on the other hand, tell another story. I discovered nipple covers. The silicone ones are so comfortable. I still can't believe these are my breasts.

28 Days PO

Same bra. Love the results!

5 Weeks PO & Doctor's Follow Up

I saw Dr. Mullins today... I just love him. He said everything is okay and healing great. He had to pull a suture out (ouch), and I had a scab that he pulled off and the nurse put a bandage on. My right breast is still a little more swollen than the left, and there is some swelling down below my underarm on the left. He says I can go braless if I want, but I still want to wear a bra during the day. My next appointment is in 6 weeks. Still so very happy.

3 Months Post Op

I last saw Dr. Mullins on July 11th. There is a little pouch of fat on the side of my left breast that's bothering me (looks like a third boob). He said he'll remove it in his office at my 6th month post op appointment, which I'm thoroughly looking forward to. I've settled into a nice 38 B. I finally found a bra that fits - the Maidenform Comfort Devotion Memory Foam T-Back Bra DM9502 from Her Room (herroom.com). It's really comfortable. It still rolls up on the sides, but not under the cups.

I really need to lose weight, and it's not like I don't know how (Lose It!). Not really motivated, although I'm still eating properly. I have to stop drinking. Champagne is my weakness. I love going out with my silicone nipple covers. They're a lifesaver. I'm also having fun collecting bathing suits.

I'm still so happy with my choice.

Happy healing.
Haven't chosen one yet

Dr. John Mullins, Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta GA

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