I've always had larger breasts. I was a D cup by...
I've always had larger breasts. I was a D cup by the time I was 13, and it only got worse from there! I've been a 36 F/G (depending on the bra) since my 20s. In my early 30s, I started having back trouble. I never really connected it to my breasts - it was all in my lower back, and I was told I had mild scoliosis and that an accident I'd had years previously was also affecting it. In my late 30s, I gained a lot of weight, which led to even more back problems.
Fast forward to my 40s: I started having a lot of neck and shoulder pain when I was about 42, and finally started putting it together that my breasts could be part of the problem. I wasn't interested in a reduction as anything but a last resort. I went to the chiropractor weekly to monthly for years. I tried physical therapy. I bought more supportive, wide-strap bras. Then, at the end of last year, I finally decided that it was getting to be too much and I turned to my second-to-last resort: weight loss. I was 223 pounds when I began, and I'm 173 now. But you know what's coming, don't you?
Rather than making my neck and shoulder pain better, the weight loss has actually made it worse. I've lost 50 pounds and not a single ounce of it was from my breasts. As a result, even when doubling up the sports bras I'm now incapable of really vigorous exercise because it's just too painful. My arms get numb. The exercise I do often leads to rashes and breakouts under my breasts. So, last month I decided to turn to my very last resort and start researching breast reduction.
First I spoke with my chiropractor, who agreed it was a good idea and recommended a plastic surgeon. Then I spoke to my primary care physician, who also agreed but sent me to an orthopedic surgeon "just in case." Then I spoke with the plastic surgeon's office and set up a consultation. By mid-August, the orthopedic surgeon had ruled out any other possible cause of my pain and agreed with my other doctors that breast reduction was my best option. I met with the plastic surgeon and was very impressed with his candor and professionalism. Next step, submitting the request for approval to Cigna. That didn't go so well.
It only took them two weeks to deny me, so I guess at least I wasn't waiting around too long. I was somewhat prepared for that, though, because I'd read about so many other people's experiences here at RealSelf. The denial letter gave a whole laundry list of reasons and seemed very cookie cutter, which made me feel like they deny everyone at first just to see if you'll go away. I didn't! I sat down and wrote a two-page letter stating my case point by point. I included every physician's letter recommending surgery, documentation of my weight loss, additional photos of my breasts, even printouts from Amazon showing the types of bras I've been purchasing. I felt like it was a really good letter and the plastic surgeon's office agreed, but I was still afraid that I'd be denied again.
Now for the really good news :) I wasn't! It took a little over two weeks this time, but today I received a letter telling me that I won my appeal - my breast reduction is approved! I don't know how long it will take to get it scheduled, but I'll definitely be on the phone trying to get that done first thing Monday morning. I cannot wait!
I so appreciate everyone who has shared their experience here. You've really helped me in making the decision to get a breast reduction, and in knowing what to expect. I hope that my story will help others as much as yours have helped me!
I'll update as soon as I know when my surgery is scheduled, and I'll get some photos up as soon as I can.
Frustrated with waiting for scheduling + photos
I've called the PS's office Monday, Wednesday and today, and still don't have an appointment set. How frustrating! Everyone there is very nice and the doctor comes highly recommended, but it takes forever to get a return phone call, and apparently they are in no hurry to get new clients' procedures on the books.
Have a couple of "before" photos. Hopefully I'll be scheduled soon and can post some "afters"!
I feel like I was overly harsh in my last update. Everyone at the PS's office really is very nice and I'm scheduled now, so please ignore my previous whining :)
Since my insurance is covering it and I've paid my out-of-pocket maximum for the year, my only cost is going to be for the lipo of my "side boob" fat. Now I just need to gather my supplies and wait!
So, I picked up a couple of the recommended bras to wear post-op, and boy do I hang out of these things everywhere (especially the side boob)! I can't wait for them to actually fit :)
Pre-Op Appt Complete - Now I'm just waiting!
I had my pre-op appointment today. I got my prescription for the 10,000 meds and all my instructions. Now it's just a waiting game for the 4th!
Are we there yet?
Holy cow am I tired of waiting! The good news is that I got that pre-surgery energy boost others have talked about and spent all day yesterday doing crazy nesting activities. So I may go insane with the wait, but the house will look fabulous :)
I feel like I'm about as ready as I can be at this point. I've made and frozen some soups for after surgery, and we also splurged and bought a week of Fresh N' Fit (a service that provides fresh, healthy meals) for immediately after surgery. I haven't watched a single episode of some of my favorite shows so I'll have something to watch. I have a giant book of Sudoku puzzles and a couple of new books on the Kindle, too. I've also gathered a few extra pillows, some bags of peas and other odds and ends for recovery. Now I just need next Wednesday to get here already!
"They don't look all that big to me"
Today was the second time I've had someone say that to me after I told them I'm getting a reduction. Seriously - I know they're on the saggy side, but I was wearing a bra both times! I guess it's all a matter of perspective...
In other news, I still don't know what time I'm going in for surgery tomorrow, but they should be calling soon. I haven't slept well at all the past few nights - I guess that was good practice for the first few days or recovery :) I'm looking forward to being on the other side of this!
4 Nov 2015
Day of treatment
Everything went really well. We were there at 8:00 and home by 1:00. Everyone at the surgery center was great. Even though I had the reduction and lip, I didn't need drains, so that part is awesome. Also awesome: Dr. Gronka said I'll definitely be a C. Yay for small boobies :) I can't take the wrap off to shower tomorrow and can't wait to do it so I can see them.
I feel asleep pretty much instantly when we got here and have not been in much pain - none at all when sitting still, a little when I move my arms. And I can't get myself out of the recliner, but that's what husbands are for :)
Here's a picture of the old girls all marked up. I'll try to remember to take one tomorrow when I'm out of the binder too.
Update but no photos
I took the binder off to peek at the girls but didn't want to pull all the gauze off yet. I'll do that tomorrow when I take a shower. They're really tiny, though! I'm thinking I might even be a B :) How exciting is that??!
The pain level is also a lot lower than I'd feared. I'm definitely achy, but only have more severe pain if I move my arms too much and when I first get out of the recliner. I'm down to taking two hydrocodone and 1 keterolac every 6 hours. That still seems like a lot when I type it out, but it's one less hydrocodone and a larger span between them so I'm calling that a win. All in all, I'm incredibly pleased!
Here's a photo. The hubby says they look like C's to him, but we'll have to see once the swelling goes down. Whatever cup size they end up being, they're little and perky and mineminemine :) I love them already!
Itchy and a little ouchy today
Previously most of my pain was in my sides, but today I've started feeling it in my breasts. They're really starting to itch at the lower incision line, too. All of that is very bearable, though. I'm still taking my pain meds and arnica a few times a day so I'm sure that's helping. The worst part of my day today was finding out that my mom was rushed to the hospital and is in ICU. She's 600 miles away from me and I just don't know what to do. I don't feel like I'm well enough to go right now, but I absolutely feel like I should be there. I guess I'll wait until Monday morning's appointment and ask the PS if it will be ok for me to go, and hope that she's doing much, much better by then.
Managed a shower today
The hubby helped me with a shower and washing my hair today. It felt really nice. I still have itching, mostly on the big incision under my breasts, and more pain today. Both nipples have sensation, so I'm happy about that. The left is really pale, and my left breast/side are noticeably larger, but I'm assuming that's just how I'm healing.
I'm also very sad today, and really confused about what to do. My mom isn't going to make it. They're pretty sure she's braindead, but dad wants to wait to take her off the respirator until they do an EEG on Monday. I feel like I should be there for my dad and siblings, but I'm also very much afraid to be there. I don't know how I go and don't overdo it, or how I keep people from trying to hug me, or how I can be anything but another burden there when I can't even comb my own hair yet. I feel really helpless and sad and confused. I'm going to think on it tomorrow and talk to my PS Monday morning and then decide whether to go ahead and go now or wait and go stay with dad next week instead.
Sorry, I know this is supposed to be all about the boobies, but I needed to vent a little. I'm adding a couple of photos to get it back on track. The black bra is one I took a photo in before surgery so you can see the difference, and the other is just how the girls look at 3 days.
Post-Op Appt today
I had my first post-op appointment today. They trimmed my sutures, changed the tape, and treated a blister on my right nipple. It was a bit ouchy when the nurse cleaned the incisions, but otherwise uneventful. Judging from what I've read on everyone else's reviews, I'm really lucky that I didn't have drains!
I've been sleeping okay, all things considered. I'm camped out in the recliner with a wedge under my knees and I've been comfortable enough, but I am looking forward to sleeping in my bed soon. It's just really high and I'm not ready to try it just yet. Maybe next week.
Well, that was a terrible idea...
I felt more energetic yesterday, so I went for a walk in the morning and walked about a mile, then another half mile with my husband later in the day. Boy, are my boobs sore, especially at the big incisions underneath. I guess I should try baby steps instead! I'm also not sleeping as well in the recliner anymore because it's starting to hurt my upper back. So all in all, the last couple of days haven't been great, but I know I'm still having an easier time of it than some folks so I'll keep my complaining to a minimum...
On the bright side, the swelling on my sides has gone down quite a bit and the bruises are starting to yellow. They're still painful/numb to the touch, but they're getting there. I still don't have much swelling in my breasts even after yesterday's adventure, so it looks like the arnica and bromelain are really helping on that front.
I think I'll take it really easy today :)
Two Week Post-Op
I went in for my two-week post-op appointment today. Lefty is healing really well. Righty is having blood flow issues, but they're improving so I just have to keep putting the treated gauze on it. I can also stop wearing the binder, which is awesome news. I still have pain on the sides, occasional zingers, and of course on the incisions if I stand for too long, but all in all I'm feeling really good. I love how small my breasts are now!
I'm finally leaving to spend time with my family tomorrow, so I probably won't update for two more weeks.
One month post-op
I had my one month post-op appointment this week. Righty is still healing really slowly, but the nipple is finally healed. They cut away the scab on the vertical incision and I'm to keep using the treated gauze on it until all the yellow goes away. Lefty looks really good. I still have some puffing out on the sides and I'm still a little numb from the lipo. I also still have pain if I overdo it, but all in all I think I'm healing well.