48 Yrs. Old, HH to C, Free Nipple Graft, Unimaginable Relief! - Barrie, ON

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I'm thankful for all the reviews and advice...

I'm thankful for all the reviews and advice offered here, and my reticence to provide my own review comes from having had such an emotional time coming to the decision to undergo breast reduction surgery, and the difficulty I have with getting enthusiastic about the outcomes in advance. I was just so fearful and withdrawn, but, having benefited immensely from this forum, I hope to contribute to the positive encouragement here.

History: large breasts run in the family and I was DD by age 15. I nursed two babies and went to an F. Losing weight didn't make a difference as my breasts are heavy and not fatty, yet I didn't understand this and was very ashamed by my inability to "lose" my top-heavy frame that caused me to look so large even when I was at a healthy weight. I was pretty active at the gym and with an extreme sport which required back strength! However, every year my back pain became more debilitating. In the last ten years, freelancing from home had allowed me to go bra-less and avoid the stinging shoulder pain for more hours. However, this practice had been unwise, as the breasts weighted down and elongated, and then that new tissue compounded the weight.

This was explained to me by Surgeon #2 who confirmed that surgery was the only option for relief. He was very sympathetic to my experience, but then encouraged me to commit to a 20-month further wait (and if you ask, they say the wait is "about a year"). He is highly rated in town (and on this forum) as a breast reduction specialist, but I had already waited three months to see him after being turned down by Surgeon #1 (out-of-town hospital rejected me due to an endocrine condition), so my choice was to go for a third consultation. And by this time my back pain was unbearable.

Dr. Ken Dickie was able to accommodate me within four months, and is an experienced "teaching" surgeon, perhaps also the head of Plastic Surgery. The photos will speak for his skill. He took photos and then fully outlined why a free nipple graft was recommended in my case. All was set up three months in advance, and after that there was no touch-base in the days before surgery, which made for some serious jitters. His office staff are attentive and calming. As he marked me up on the day, I asked for a larger C-cup in case I slimmed down later.

I was required to have a baseline mammogram in advance, and this is something I had avoided for fear of pain for breasts so thick. Report: Twice the number of scans were taken - and there were no re-takes, its just that the image plate is not large enough for the "subject matter". The "press" is partially automated, but then adjusted by hand, just enough to stabilize the breast. It is not a one-size-fits-all thickness! The squeeze experience was mildly achy. The next day I felt a bit tender on the sides and my skin was itchy. I didn't break the machine ;) The experience was positive!

Here is the "before" photo.

Photos: Day 3

Bandaged up with pads and white "paper" skin tape on day 3. I have an elasticized compression wrap that covers this. I have drains and they will come out in another ten days. Sleeping elevated on my back but actually sleeping well. The swelling, all over, is distracting especially at the tops of my breasts where the tape sticks to the skin... its very sticky and when the swelling goes up and down (cold packs), the tape gets so taut its topically uncomfortable. Internally not much sensation except for surprising, non-painful "implosions".

My husband has been wonderful! Always positive, and a true advocate for my well-being.

Photos: Day 14

I have been attending a public health clinic every three days for dressings inspections/change up until Day 13 when the stitches and drains were removed at surgeon's office. The nurses have remarked on the symmetry and health of the incision lines. I'm still on regular Tyelenol for swelling pain. The nurses gave me less-sticky white tape since they noticed I had removed skin taking the original off! They also gave me silicone tape for later.

The T incisions have the usual steri-strips. The free-graft nipple area (I hadn't photographed it) had been a round 'pouff' made of gauze, that pouf covering the newly formed nipples completely, and then stapled to the breast skin. We just left it alone with all these changes, trusting the healing was taking place underneath. The compression band I wear overtop, sometimes cinches down when I'm sleeping and the ridge then presses on those nipple-pouffs causing discomfort. Other than that, the only painful parts are the swelling under my armpits. I had not had liposuction on the sides. The right side is especially tender, and this is the side that had hematoma-bleed on the day of surgery. Perhaps there is still some drainage going in there and not hitting the drain.

Drain removal I tried to ignore and just talk through... that worked. It was noticeable but manageable and was accomplished quickly. Staple removal was okay too, since the nipple part has, of course, no sensation. That will be permanent. The nipples had black thick scabs and Dr. Dickie said just to cover them with that white tape and that the skin would be regenerating underneath.

Week Three and a total of 9.5 pounds removed

Dr. Dickie had confirmed the weight removed on EACH breast (going from HH to C) was 2.1 Kg! That's 9.5 pounds of weight removed from these shoulders! Surgeon was surprised by the weight for that volume. I have not needed the shoulder massages my husband is accustomed to giving! The weight adjustment has not caused back problems in these first weeks. However, I am experiencing, at night, stabbing pains at my clavicle-humerus connection - where the bra strap had rested - a deep internal bone pain, not a muscle pain. This is enough to waken me and prevent sleep.

The third week - much swelling and pain and zingers. Topical pain and whole breast aching... seems to be related to swelling on the sides and top. Distracting by bedtime. Skin felt itchy but not at incisions, more to do with the swelling on tops. Week 3 felt like what I expected would be the maximum discomfort right after surgery... still was manageable but did resume T3's at night.

Photos: Day 34

The fourth week - after an uncomfortable third week, every day was a good improvement in terms of range of arm motion without discomfort, and the swelling was diminishing. Although maybe too comfortable though.. as was bleeding along suture lines under the armpits, minimally. Dr. D could tell.. he said "too much movement". So, even though I was glad to be returning to normal, this curbing of activity/lifting/stretching had me feeling subdued. No more of that achy bone-pain!!

The doctor now wants me out of the compression band and into a sports bra. The XXL sized Genie bra I had bought in advance, it broke! It didn't last five minutes and the plastic front zipper blew out. I obsessed about fixing it and felt angry because my BRA BUSTING DAYS should be OVER. So I purchased two new Bali bras.

I'm using the Mepitac silicone tape on incisions with white paper tape over top of that. I used gauze over the nipples, taped into place, and the scabs wore off by the four week mark.

Week Four I had weird skin sensations; the skin felt like it was crumpling/crimping up... but not painful.

Each breast is round, also on the sides. The incisions that wing out under my armpits are in a ridge and poke out at the ends. The breasts have softened and there is still tenderness under the arms, but I must be agitating those areas with increased arm movement. I will be returning to work soon, so am relieved the bras are comfortable... although I take them off at night.

In a first show of "delight"... who knew I would have free-standing boobies again? I could even go bra-less... how liberating!

Photos: Week 7

At week six, could sleep on my sides for longer than a few minutes... previously, when I tended to roll over in my sleep, the achy pain would wake me up. Now I will sleep in position for some hours. Topically, I feel achy when I roll over, but once positioned, its fine.

At seven weeks, I am returning to work. Boobs are softening, feeling less hard. I still have them taped and can shower and just let the tapes dry out. I have good arm mobility and have even been able to reach the top of my head to style hair. Lifting of weight is not a big problem, but holding any weight with arms outstretched is uncomfortable. Also uncomfortable is scrubbing floors or reaching to floor level. I see Dr. Dickie again on Nov. 30 and that will be the two month mark.
Barrie Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Dickie is calming, and a good communicator on matters of breast physiology and surgery options/technique. Not much information was provided on how to prepare, nor was there another consultation prior to the surgery date (this may be due to limits within our Provincial Health care system). Dr. Dickie responded quickly and calmly to a same-day hematoma evacuation. After-care was only ordered when I presented with concerns a few days after surgery, whereas I am told other surgeons make those arrangements as a matter of course (I had drains and a free nipple graft, and the usual follow-up date was delayed by a holiday). The results are HEALTHY, evenly-proportioned, smooth incisioned, and ROUND! I can't thank Dr. Dickie enough for the relief from the oppressive back and shoulder pain. In my opinion there is NO REASON to wait two years for the other highly-rated surgeon, and I hope this review and the photos will assist in a decision.

4 out of 5 stars Overall rating
3 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
4 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
4 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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