I actually had my surgery yesterday, but I'm going...
I actually had my surgery yesterday, but I'm going to start from the beginning, now that I've decided to post my experience!
I've had large breasts ever since I can remember. I started hunching my shoulders in 4th grade b/c I had breasts way before any of my friends and I wanted to hide them. I quit gymnastics b/c I was too embarrassed to wear a leotard. I wanted a reduction even in high school, but I also knew I wanted children and I wanted to breastfeed. I think this surgery has come a long way in 20 years, b/c several people I know who had the surgery 20 years ago were NOT able to breastfeed when the time came. So, I'm glad I waited.
Four kids later, my largest size was a 34J while pregnant with my first. He was a preemie and one of my boobs was twice the size of his head. I stopped breastfeeding #4 back in may and was finally ready to start this process! I knew I needed to wait at least 6 months after breastfeeding, so that brought me to November as the earliest surgery date. I had two consults in September. My goal was to go through insurance, so I chose two surgeons who were highly rated on yelp and/or real self and who were preferred providers through my insurance. (Anthem Blue Shield)
The first surgeon I met with was Dr. Burrell at South Bay Plastic Surgeons. (I live in the south bay and her office is only 10 minutes from home so definitely my first choice as far as that goes). She was amazing. I appreciated her honesty and the time she spent with me. The first thing she said when she saw me though, was "hmm, you're not that big!" and I was shocked. I have been so used to being gigantic, but I had noticed that my breasts did seem smaller after breastfeeding the 4th than they had been ever. But, I hadn't noticed just how much they had changed. I was still filling out a 32G. Sadly, as she pointed out, I was filling it out with a lot of skin. SO much sag, not much volume left.
She was concerned that the amount insurance would require me to take out (318 grams from each side) would leave me too small. Though I was a 32G, just taking all the extra skin off would likely take me down to a 32dd. So, I really only needed about 200 grams out to be a large C/small D, like I wanted. She did a vectra and my results were 575 grams on the left and 500 on the right.
She agreed to submit to insurance and request that the 318 only be required out of the left side and that the right be approved "to match".
In the meantime, I had my second consult, with Dr. Eugene Kim in Beverly Hills. He echoed much of what Dr. Burrell said. He also is not dealing much with insurance companies and didn't seem as willing to fight for insurance coverage. He has a surgical suite in his office (with board certified anesthesiologists) and for insurance, has to go to the hospital to perform surgery. So, I think, just not his preferred route. I felt comfortable with him and while I didn't get the same feeling for him as I had Dr. Burrell, I knew I would be very comfortable with either surgeon.
I will say both doctors recommended implants, but I was firm in not wanting them. My goal is to be smaller and the perkier part is a huge benefit, but not the purpose for me! I didn't want a foreign object in my body and didn't need the "upper pole firmness" I would get from one.
After my consult with Dr. Kim, I got the call from insurance that they were denying my request. Dr. Burrell did a "peer to peer" consult for me though, where she spoke with the insurance's doctor over the phone to plead my case. I'm only 5'3 and about 125-130 pounds. My 32G boobs (despite being a lot of skin) are absolutely too heavy for my frame. They denied again.
I made a decision to go with Dr. Kim. It was a hard decision. I trusted both of them, but it came down to a few factors:
before/after pictures- Dr. Kim has a ton on his website. Dr. Burrell's office has a compilation but they could not tell me which ones were Dr. Burrell's. I asked a few times and they never showed me anything.
experience- Dr. Kim has been doing this for years and prior to having his own practice, he did a lot of breast reconstruction surgeries for breast cancer patients. That is serious work and made me feel very secure!
cost- probably the biggest factor, actually. given i trusted them both and knew i would be in good hands either way. Dr. Kim's total price was $7,150. Dr. Burrell's was $10,900.
So, I put down my deposit and scheduled for December 4th!
Then, in early November, I got a call from Dr. Burrell that they had overturned the decision and my insurance was now approved!! What a roller coaster of emotions. I had to re-think everything. In the end, I decided to go ahead with Dr. Kim as planned and pay out of pocket. I wanted a reduction, but I didn't want to be forced into a bra size that was too small. Already, going from a G to a C/D would be a big adjustment. A welcome one, but still scary. I didn't want to end up a B or even an A.
I ended up having to cancel my original surgery date. My mom was flying out to help me take care of the kids post surgery, but she couldn't come as planned. I rescheduled for after the holidays, on January 11th.
I arrived at 8:30, as I was instructed. Around 8:45, I was taken back to the pre-op area and was surprised my husband was not allowed to accompany me! I had to do a urine test for pregnancy and was given compression socks, regular socks, a gown, cap and paper underwear. I was then given a pre op bed and the nurse put my IV in. Dr. Kim came in and marked me up. I was stressing about size. I avoided using cup size to tell him what I wanted, as I know that varies by brand and also by the size of the bra's band. Instead, I showed him a picture I had found here that looked like what I want. I also brought a bra in to show him. (a 32D from Victoria's Secret). He said he would do his best to get me as close to that as possible, but that the bras cups were not as wide as my natural breasts so there was a good chance that particular bra would not fit me. I appreciated his honesty and explanation.
Once I was marked, I took a quick pic of the markings, handed over my phone and was wheeled into the OR. The anesthesiologist had called me the day before to go over any history and he was super nice. I will say the nurses were not overly personable. They were nice and polite, just not the outgoing, "put you at ease" types.
He put something in my IV, I remember asking what it was and he said vicodin and the next thing I remember was waking up! The nurse said my surgery had been over for about an hour. I drifted back to sleep and when I woke up she was calling my husband to tell him I was almost ready. At that point, I looked down at my chest and started crying b/c I thought they looked too big. I do realize that it's WAY too soon to tell and they are all bundled up in a compression bra! I just get emotional with anesthesia! Dr. Kim came in to talk to me and check on my nipple incisions. He was really happy with the way things went and said he took out a couple hundred grams. (though they did not weigh the tissue, so no idea on exact numbers) He said he did a little lipo too- on the chest/armpit area. I was very happy to hear that! He said they look great and will be perky :)
Once there was a wheelchair available, the nurse wheeled me down to the parking garage where my husband was waiting. She gave him the same instructions she had given me regarding the drains. (I have two) I am supposed to drain them approximately every 4 hours or when they are half full. On the way home, my compression bra was giving me a lot of pain. I had bought a 32D but didn't account for swelling. The 32 band was way too tight. We stopped at Sports Authority so my husband could go in and buy me a 34C.
My mom washed/dried the bra before I put it on and changing into it was not easy! I had a lot of blood/fluid go into the drain during the process and it was really a 3 person job to get the new bra on. I wanted to get a picture while the bra was off, but there really wasn't much to see. There is gauze covering my nipples and the bottom half of my breasts. And I was anxious to just get the bra back on. I'm dying to peak, but trying to be patient!
I'm supposed to call when the drains are getting less than 25cc in 24 hours. Hopefully that happens before Friday b/c I'd love to get rid of them before the weekend! Honestly, I'm glad I have them though. I much prefer knowing where the fluid is going and having it come out neatly into the drains rather than the seeping I have read about in a lot of reviews! I don't like them, but I appreciate their purpose.
Overall, I feel great. I need to make sure I don't do too much. The last thing I want is to push myself now and have a setback on recovery. It's hard to sit still when you have four young kids though. I feel guilty sitting around and letting my mom/husband do everything! I helped with breakfast and made lunches this morning, folded a load of laundry and then realized I needed to stop. I've only taken 3 pain pills and probably won't take another until bedtime. I feel sore/tender but not hard core pain at this point. I know I've read other reviews though that said the hardest day came on day 3/4 so I'm only cautiously optimistic!
stressing about size and clogged drains/tubes
I know I'm swollen. I know they are squished in a compression bra. I know it's too soon to tell. But, I just think they are too big. I brought a Victoria's Secret 32D bra to show the surgeon. (and it even looked a little too small to me, but I figured I'd err on the side of too small). I showed him a picture from here that I had done a screen shot of - probably a C cup- maybe a small D. I emphasized that my biggest fear was going through with this and being too big afterwards. When he said he tends to err on the side of too big rather than too small, I told him with me, to think the opposite! And, I look down now and I feel like I still see two gigantic mounds. I just don't see how they could go down enough to make me happy. I wanted to have cute, little, perky boobs.
Immediately after surgery, I looked down and thought they were too big. He said he knew I was worried about size, but to try not to think about it for awhile b/c it's too soon to tell. He said something along the lines of, "size doesn't matter- they are perky". But size DOES matter!! I didn't want just a breast lift. I wanted a significant reduction.
Also, my drains got clogged last night. I sent Dr. Kim an email asking what I should do and he said I could come in so he could strip them. I'm over an hour away from his office though, so asked if I could do it at home. Once again, he was very quick to respond and sent me directions and a youtube video to help. My husband was able to strain them and I think we're back on track. Though, there has been very little drainage since he did it. I hope that means he did it correctly and they are unclogged and just mostly done draining!
I haven't seen them at all yet. I am supposed to keep this bra on until I go back to get my drains removed. (maybe tomorrow or Friday..maybe not until Monday- depends on when they stop draining)
I woke up this morning with blood soaked through my pajamas and onto my pillow. (not a lot, but enough to make me want to check things out). Dr. Kim had told me to keep my surgical compression bra on until my appointment with him, but I had my husband take it off very gently and we saw the blood is just coming from the slit where the tube drain is coming out of me. We put some gauze over it and put the bra back on. But I did get a quick picture first! I'm feeling a lot better after seeing them better.
My left drain put out right around 25cc in 24 hours, so after letting Dr. Kim know those numbers, he asked me to move my appointment back a day to get them pulled. Plan is to go in tomorrow. So excited to get them out! And really see things! I haven't peaked at incisions or nipples at all.
I am sleeping way better than I thought possible! And it's not really due to pain pills. I'm only taking 2 a day at this point. I am posting a picture of my sleep set up b/c it's a lot more comfortable than I thought it would be!
Best thing I did today was take a shower and went to a salon for a blow out. After not showering or washing my hair since monday morning, it felt great. I showered with my bra on (did get it wet so i had to change). Then, my mom drove me to the salon. She washed my hair twice, did a blow dry and put some soft curls in. Feels good to look more human again!
Feels so good to have them out. I was so nervous it was really going to hurt, but I barely felt one side and the other was only mildly painful.
I really wanted them out before the weekend and Dr. Kim worked me in for a visit even though he was operating all morning. I'm very pleased with the follow up care.
I got to see them and I'm feeling good about the outcome! Of course, they will settle as the swelling continues to go down. They are pretty high and perky right now and he warned me that won't last.
We talked about size and how my left is slightly bigger than my right. He said he couldn't go any smaller without compromising blood supply to nipple. Something about how he had taken a couple hundred grams out from the top, but the nipple turned white when he started to take more from under the nipple. He did some lypo on the side/armpit area to help get the overall size down instead.
I'm feeling great! Really wishing I could sleep on my side, but sleeping well anyway. Glad I had so many meals frozen before surgery, BC its been wonderful to have one less thing to worry about. Yesterday, I only took one pain killer. Today, if I'm feeling uncomfortable I plan to switch to extra strength Tylenol.
one week post surgery!
I took my last antibiotic this morning and in a way, it really feels like the last week flew by. Can't believe I"m already one week post surgery, after waiting almost 20 years to get this done!
I'm really pleased with the way they are looking. They are not perfect, but they are so much better than they were before! I can't wait to go shopping for new clothes! This morning, when I was changing bras, I held some of my old bras up and it was such a relief to see that they don't even come close to fitting!!
I don't have any real pain right now- just a little sore/bruised from the lipo and so so much itching where my tubes were. There is tape holding down the gauze at the tube incision sites and i need to call and see if I can remove the tape/gauze now to hopefully relieve some itching.
I bought 4 sports bras for post surgery (5, including the one we stopped to buy on the way home from the surgery) and i will say none of them are perfect. Pre-surgery I was a 32G. I bought smalls and, one 32D and one 34C. The Under Armour bras with the zipper in front are the ones my PS recommends, but they fit SO tight. That's probably why they are good, but does good have to be painful? For these to be comfortable, I should have bought a 36C!
I switched to a playtex and it's much more comfortable, but wore the UA again yesterday b/c the playtex was in the wash. The bali comfort revolution from kohls was vetoed by ps b/c it has a little padding. i thought it was just a lining, but he said it's best to avoid. The last was from amazon- another zip front, I don't know the brand off hand, but it was pretty cheap. It's a little too big and my breasts get achey when I wear it for too long.
Lesson learned. Don't take multi-vitamins too soon :(
major (new) bruising today and swelling. i thought i was being such a good patient, but now i'm worried i did this to myself. in my worried googling, i ran across another question to the doctors here and one surgeon mentioned staying away from multi-vitamins and green tea for a few weeks after surgery. i knew this. this was in my pre-op information. i guess i just thought a week was good and didn't give it much thought when i started taking it on monday.
both of these can thin the blood, and it would make sense that that would result in bruising then, right? i can tell they are swollen too, b/c the steri strips he put on them at my 1st post op appointment are now pulling and breasts are bulging around them. :( i know bruising isn't the end of the world, i was just so enjoying my speedy and non-complicated recovery. i think i have probably been overdoing it too. i have four kids and it's hard to just sit around!
i did contact my ps, and he was quick to respond, as always, but he said there is really nothing to do but monitor and make sure the swelling doesn't get significant or one gets way more swollen than the other. he also said not to do anything too strenuous.
i'm not sure i really should have, but i put a few essential oils that are good for bruising and swelling on my breasts tonight. we'll see if that helps at all. (helichrysm and lemongrass)
the dreaded pins and needles
Yesterday was my worst day for pain. I took the bandaids off my incisions where my drains had been and for awhile, that area was incredibly sensitive. I also switched to a slightly looser, more comfortable bra, but the pins and needles set in shortly after and I can't help but wonder if that was related to the bra? As uncomfortable as the compression bra can be on my rib cage, it does seem to be the most effective in minimizing breast pain.
The bruising spread, but is less severe. More of a faint bruise as opposed to the dark purple and yellows the first day I noticed them.
I see my PS tomorrow for a follow up. It will be my first time checking out the incisions. I'm hoping I can start with the silicone strips tomorrow? I bought Scar Away at CVS yesterday - I was going to do the bio corneum he sells at his office, but I think I just feel more comfortable having them covered up for awhile. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like there is less chance of them opening up? Maybe I'll do the strips for a month or so and then switch the ointment.
As far as size..my husband thinks they are too small. And I think they are a little too big. I'm not unhappy, as they look 1000x better than they did. I just wish they were slightly smaller. Even if the left one was just the same size as the right, I think I'd be much happier. I'm excited to wear a real bra and see how they really look, when not smooshed in to this compression bra!
3 weeks post op- feeling great!
I'm feeling great physically and in regards to how they look. I worked out for the first time today- just did a 40 minute combo class (dance) on beach body on demand. I want to go back to yoga class, but I figure it's best if I test my limits at home first. I took it really easy on the overhead stretching. There was some bouncing around that I kept pretty low key as well. It felt good to be moving again and i just kept reminding myself to not push too hard.
I saw Dr. Kim last week. He took the tape off but told me to hold off on any scar cream/silicone strips for another week while some scabs are still coming off. It's been a week tomorrow since that appointment, but I do still have some scabs, so I'm going to continue to wait. That said, I am an essential oil junkie and i have been rubbing Immortelle by DoTERRA on my incisions. It is a blend and I use it on cuts/scraps all the time and feel good about it on my incisions. I think everything is looking great so far, so I'll keep using it and switch to the Scar Away strips I bought once the scabs are all gone. (though if you research Immortelle and scars, you'll see that a lot of plastic surgeons recommend it to parents after their children undergo cleft palette surgeries!)
I am thrilled with the way things are looking. Both healing and size-wise. I've been shopping a bit this past week and already, even with swelling, shirts look SO much better. Almost everyone I've seen in the last week or so has told me I look like I've lost weight. (I haven't!) I held up a few of my old bras and am astonished by the difference. Not sure what I'm going to do with all of the expensive bathing suits I won't fit into anymore :) I think it's time to change my "not sure" to definitely "worth it"!!