5 weeks later, 36J to 36D, with some new pictures

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Your experiences have been immensely helpful and...

Your experiences have been immensely helpful and reassuring, so here goes my story.

I'm 31 years old and I've had large breasts ever since I hit puberty. They're around a 38I these days, after having breastfed two kids. I'm 5'5" and 198 pounds, and while I'd love to lose some weight before having a reduction, I can't exercise without paying for it the next day in neck/back pain. I have the same problems so many here do: the above neck and back pain, grooves in the shoulder, sweaty under-boob, and difficulty finding shirts that fit up top. At my last checkup, my doctor suggested I look into a reduction. I'd never considered one until that point, and it hit me that yes, it was actually possible not to suffer through life with the twin burdens. I so, so hope it works out.

I have an appointment with a local plastic surgeon in a little under three weeks. I'm hoping to get the ball rolling on insurance approval -- I expect it's going to be a battle, since insurance is never easy. I'm *hoping* to be able to schedule a reduction for January, when I'll have a new bank of sick time to access. Between my weight and my recent breastfeeding history, I'm not sure that is realistic; guess I'll find out in a few weeks!

Has anyone else gotten a reduction with small kids in the house? I have two, ages 15 months and 3 years, and they're both kids who love being picked up. I'm dreading not being able to carry them or sit them on my lap for weeks. Though honestly, it'll probably be harder for me than for them. :)

Updating to add some pictures. It's funny how I...

Updating to add some pictures. It's funny how I manage to convince myself they're not *that* big, and then I see them in a photo and I'm blown away by how big they really are.

I had my consultation yesterday. The good news is,...

I had my consultation yesterday. The good news is, I like the plastic surgeon and I felt comfortable with his practice. He predicted removing 700 grams from each side, said he uses the inverted T procedure, and gave me an idea of what size I'd be post-reduction (by mashing a breast up with his hand, which I found amusing). He recommended taking four weeks off work if I can. I think I can swing that, although I was hoping to get by with three.

But, the bad news: In March, my insurance company switched from a maximum BMI of 35 to a maximum of 30. The nurse calculated my BMI at 33. Before March, he said, I would have been an automatic approval, but now he thinks they'll deny me right away. They're submitting anyway, and he talked over my options for appealing a denial.

I can also lose 20 pounds to get under that BMI cap, which I would LOVE to do, but it's hard when I pay for exercising with crippling neck pain. Ah, well, I'll keep trying!

And now I wait. The nurse said I should hear back from the insurance company in about a month.

My bras haven't been fitting well lately, so for...

My bras haven't been fitting well lately, so for the first time in months I re-measured myself. Turns out I'm a mind-boggling 36J. I don't even know where to FIND bras in that size. I have never been able to buy bras online, because they're such a crapshoot in the larger sizes, but even the stores that I've gotten my bras from in the past don't sell bras in the I or J range with the band size of 36. Frustrating!!

I got an approval letter in the mail today. I'm...

I got an approval letter in the mail today. I'm shocked! I was fully expecting a denial followed by a prolonged fight. Apparently, my BMI wasn't a problem ... or they really ARE that big. Ha.

Now I have to call the plastic surgeon to set a date (I'm hoping for January) and my insurance company to find out exactly how much the reduction will cost me.

I am SO excited!

I called my insurance and learned that the surgery...

I called my insurance and learned that the surgery will cost me either $75 (if it's performed as an out-patient surgery) or $500 (if it's an in-patient surgery). The plastic surgeon mentioned that he preferred keeping his patients in the hospital overnight so he could monitor them and control the pain better. My mom is a nurse, and when I mentioned that to her, she rolled her eyes. I'm not sure whether it's worth $425 to me to have IV meds, especially considering how hospital stays aren't conducive to rest. I'll have to talk that over with him.

My next appointment is Nov. 1, when I set a date for the surgery! I'm hoping for either the last week of December (if the details of my insurance plan change significantly with the new year) or mid-January (if they don't). I'm not sure what else is happening at this appointment. My husband is coming, so maybe the doctor will review the basics of the procedure.

I've told a couple friends now that I'm getting a reduction. They're all super supportive, but two have basically said, "Send some of that over here, would you?" Not the first time I've heard this, and it gets on my nerves like nothing else. Please don't imply that I'm taking a good thing for granted. Until you've lived with monstrously large breasts, you have NO idea how restricting, painful and flat-out embarrassing they can be.

Hi all! I met with my plastic surgeon today, and...

Hi all! I met with my plastic surgeon today, and the big day is set for Feb. 12. I was hoping for early January, so it's later than I wanted, but this way I get to have it at the nicer hospital in town and my mother will be able to come up for the first week. It's so nice to have a set date. :)

Other details: Surgeon now plans to remove 800 from each breast; he still recommends taking four weeks off of work; apparently an overnight stay in the hospital will be considered a same-day surgery by the insurance company so long as I leave by 23 hours after the surgery (is that insurance for you or what?); and I don't get to shower for a full week after having the reduction. I know it's not all that unusual, but that's going to suck!

I should get paperwork next week from the nurse with instructions about bloodwork, testing, etc., that I need to have done before the surgery. I go in Feb. 11 to be marked.


It's been ages since I've updated. I've been...

It's been ages since I've updated. I've been staying off Real Self and away from reduction sites to keep from freaking out about my upcoming reduction ... not that it's helped much. Ha. I keep second-guessing my decision to have the surgery, mostly because I've never had any kind of surgery and in my mind it's a bigger, scarier deal than it really is. However, I desperately need relief from the pain and discomfort of having large breasts, so I am still set on having this done. Just nervous. :)

In any event, my reduction is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday. I have to be to the hospital at 9 a.m., and the procedure is estimated to take 3 hours. I have my preop appointment on Monday. This last week, I've had preadmission testing at the hospital (all fine), a mammogram (also all fine) and a surgery clearance appointment with my primary doc (again, all fine). I'm set to take at least three weeks, possibly four, off from work.

I've been trying to talk to my kids (ages 3 years and 20 months) about how mommy is going to have surgery and won't be able to pick them up for a while because I'll have a boo boo. That will be the toughest part of recovery, I think. I'm not sure how much they understand, but they're young -- I doubt they'll remember any of this a year from now.

As I've been slowly telling people about the reduction, I am amazed by how many women have had or know someone who has had a reduction. Seriously, every woman has a story! It's helped a lot to hear so many in-person success stories. I love reading the Real Self testimonies, but there's something different about getting the story in person and getting to ask questions and see results in real life.

Any last-minute tips for preparing for surgery, ladies?

It's over! I had my reduction yesterday morning....

It's over! I had my reduction yesterday morning. I've been sleeping almost ever since; the pain is greater than I was expecting, but since I'm staying in the hospital overnight, the nurses have been able to help me keep on top of it.

I'm not sure what size I ended up with. The surgeon took 800 grams from each side. I feel nearly flat, but I think it's just in comparison to how huge I was before.

I haven't talked to the surgeon yet myself, but my husband did, and apparently the surgeon said my breasts were "full" of milk. I haven't breastfed in eight months, and I haven't been able to hand-express milk in ages, so I was shocked to hear that. It apparently puts me at a greater risk for infection. Here's hoping it doesn't become a problem.

It's so nice to be recovering at home. The doctors...

It's so nice to be recovering at home. The doctors and nurses were great at the hospital, but there was some serious drama on my roommate's side of the bed. Mostly involving vomit and diarhhea and this woman's refusal to get out bed. NASTY.

In terms of healing, I feel better today than I did yesterday. The most bothersome part is how swollen the breasts are; I remember someone comparing it to the sensation in breastfeeding when your milk comes in fully, and that is spot on. Not painful, but not fun, either. The majority of my pain is along the underside of the breast and the spot where the incision ends near my elbow. Both nipples were pink, and I could feel a touch in the left one.

The surgeon told me that the right nipple is slightly smaller than the left, and he can fix it, but he can fix most easily during an in-office appointment where he "stretches" it out. That just sounds uncomfortable. I'm going to wait until I get a good look at them before I start worrying about. Who knows? Maybe it won't bother me at all.

I have some more pre-surgery pictures to post, and I think I'll be able to do it from this laptop. Hopefully. :-)

How could I forget the stats? The surgeon removed...

How could I forget the stats? The surgeon removed 800 grams from each size. I think I am still hovering around a D cup, but it's full and high rather long and droopy.

I'm feeling better all the time. I'm typing this...

I'm feeling better all the time. I'm typing this leaning on my side on one elbow with absolutely no pain. It's amazing!

I have yet to see what my breasts look like under the gauze and bra, but judging from quick peeks, it's not pretty. I think it's going to turn my stomach when I do get a look Monday. Oh, well, it will be worth it!

I got the drains removed today. Can you say OUCH?...

I got the drains removed today. Can you say OUCH? The left one actually didn't hurt -- it just felt weird. The right one I think was inflamed a bit at the entrance, and it got stuck a bit inside. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I was nauseous and lightheaded all afternoon after that. It was actually the worst I've felt since waking up from the surgery.

I'm not quite two weeks out and I'm feeling GREAT....

I'm not quite two weeks out and I'm feeling GREAT. Today was the first today I felt completely comfortable without a bra when I got ready to shower. What an awesome feeling. It's so amazing not to have my breasts sag onto my belly when I go braless. I no longer feel like they're in danger of falling apart while I shower, and it's been days since my nipples ached like they were going to drop off. (Which happened quite a bit in the beginning, actually.)

I went to Target today and picked up a couple bras. For $10 a piece! Off the rack! Holy smokes, it's been YEARS since I was able to do that. They're sports bras, so I still am not sure what size I am, but I'm guessing I'll wind up a full D. That's okay; I do have some weight I'd like to lose eventually, so I like that I have some wiggle room up top. :-)

The only downer news is that I'm afraid I'm developing an infection in the right breast. Friday afternoon/evening I noticed a burning ache along the side, right where the incision ends but deep inside the breast. It got steadily worse all night, and by the time I went to bed, I couldn't even lay my arm on top of it. I'm on antibiotics anyway to prevent a breastmilk-related infection, though, and I started them in earnest Friday. So ... today was much better, and I think the antibiotics have kicked in. I see the surgeon Monday, so we'll see what happens there.

Adding some pictures since I'm nearly two weeks...

Adding some pictures since I'm nearly two weeks out from surgery. I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon to decide whether I'll continue the antibiotics and whether my persistent sore spot is infection or just sore, healing tissue. I'm leaning toward the latter, but we'll see what the doctor thinks.

Doctor doesn't think I have an infection -- yay!...

Doctor doesn't think I have an infection -- yay! He says the soreness is likely just due to healing or extra fluid. That part of the breast is more swollen than anywhere else, for sure. I do have to finish my current course of antibiotics.

I had to laugh when he told me that "there was milk EVERYWHERE" when he was doing the surgery. The way he said it conjured images of milk spraying out and the doctors/nurses ducking for cover. Totally not how it happened, but still funny. Ha.

I got my return-to-work slip today, too, but that's still two weeks away. I am so, so thankful my work has generous sick leave policies!

Tomorrow marks three weeks since the surgery --...

Tomorrow marks three weeks since the surgery -- wow! It sure doesn't feel like it. I'm finding it hard to remember how big my breasts used to be. I'm looking back at my pre-surgery pics, and I am amazed by how they dominated my appearance. I added some comparison pictures to my review, since I found those so incredibly inspiring when I was reading reviews before.

My recovery is going wonderfully. At this point, I have only the occasional twinge or ache to complain about; I can even lie on my side without thinking about it, although I'm still trying to sleep on my back. The surgical glue is slowly flaking off. There are a few spots around my nipples and at the edges of the incision where I can see the scar; it's pink, but not nearly as glaring as I was afraid it would be. Of course, I might feel differently when I don't have the bloody scabs to compare it to! The worst thing right now is how incredibly sensitive my nipples are. (This is a "problem" I am very, very happy to have, let me tell you.)

This is my last week of sick leave. I am NOT looking forward to going back to work. I have a feeling I am going to be exhausted by the end of the first week back.

Also, based on my own measurements, I'm now a 36D....

Also, based on my own measurements, I'm now a 36D. Woohoo! I can buy regular bras again!

Yesterday was my first night back at work. I was...

Yesterday was my first night back at work. I was surprisingly nervous about seeing my coworkers post-surgery -- or, more specifically, them seeing me. It was fine, though. It was rather nice to get back into my old routine, although I am so, so glad I decided to take a full four weeks after the surgery. By the end of my shift, I was exhausted. I have so much admiration for all you ladies who went back to work earlier.

Physically, I'm feeling great. My breasts are starting to settle into a more breast-like shape, although the underside is still quite shelf-like. Once that drops a bit, I'm going to be VERY happy with the shape. I'm still not crazy about the oval shape of the left nipple, so I'm going to talk to the surgeon about fixing that, and I wish the right nipple weren't quite so far from the center, but you know what? Minor quibbles. My back, neck and shoulder pain are gone, and the sheer discomfort and annoyances of living with pendulous breasts is a thing of the past. I still can't get over the fact that I can lie on my stomach with my weight on my upper arms and my breasts DON'T TOUCH THE FLOOR. It's freaking amazing.

In terms of healing, the scabs and surgical glue are starting to come off. There are a couple spots where the incisions are a livid red and where the healing isn't progressing quite so well, but I don't see any signs of infection. They haven't hurt in days, and aside from some hypersensitivity in the left nipple, they feel almost normal. I've even started picking up and carrying my kids again, although in very small increments -- especially my oldest, who is nearly 40 pounds. I have to say, the kids have been great about the holding/carrying restrictions, although I think my presence at dinner/bedtime more than made up for that in their minds. (I work a night shift, so I'm usually at work then.)

Hi all! Five weeks and change and doing great here...

Hi all! Five weeks and change and doing great here. Just about all the surgical glue and scabs have fallen off my breasts, leaving shiny new pink scar tissue behind (or, in a few trouble spots, still-in-the-process-of-healing wounds). With the dark scabs gone, I am finally getting an idea of what they're going to look like when all is said and done, and I am so happy. Oh, I could quibble over a few things (the size of the left nipple, for one), but if I compare these breasts to the ones I had before, there isn't even a question.

So, trouble spots -- on my right breasts, the vertical incision is still far behind the healing of the rest of the incisions. There are a couple tiny areas where some active bleeding was going on. I see no signs of an infection, and I suspect the problem is that I was sick last week and I returned to work, so I've been more physically active and have gotten less sleep. I've been keeping the trouble spots bandaged so they don't rub against the bra and get worse; I figure the doctor will tell me at my checkup next week whether further action is warranted.

I'm looking forward to being able to wear non-sports bras soon. And to working out! Wow, it's going to be weird to be able to jog or use the elliptical and not have to worry about being hit in the chin with a stray breast.
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