31/5'4"/230/36J to 42DD! My incredible (to me) journey!

Since I was young, I have been large-chested. At...

Since I was young, I have been large-chested. At first, I didn't really know what to do with it. Today, I know what to do with it, but I have too much to do WITH.

In the past year, I've experienced chronic back, neck and shoulder pain. Other parts of my body suffer as well. I have felt fatigued, not wanted to exercise, and generally cranky. Anyone who hasn't experienced chronic pain is very, very fortunate... and for those that have, I am so sorry for what you go through daily. ??

Back in 2007-8, I tried to initiate the breast reduction insurance approval process. Actually, I saw the exact same surgeon then! With Aetna as my insurance provider, I was advised that I probably wouldn't be approved the first time around, and would need to appeal.

I was denied, and appealed, and was denied again. I moved to Oregon about a year later, and didn't pursue a reduction while I was there.

Back in MA at 31, I'm ready to get on with my life. I can't remember life without giant breasts. Being very wide-set with low nipples, I'm often irritated or over-sensitized when I go braless. Bras from Elomi, Curvy Kate and others that serve the J cup market charge $60+, and never go on sale.

Approved for my surgery on November 16!

I wanted to put this through as a separate update: I was approved by MassHealth yesterday, on the first shot! So much better than Aetna back in 2007.

The pre-op has been scheduled for November 7, with the pre-op phone screen on the 13th. Surgery happens on the 16th, AKA the first day of my new life!!

I've been reading a LOT of articles and reviews on RealSelf, and I am admittedly concerned about things like infections and other complications.

Recently, I had a ganglion cyst removed from my wrist under local anesthetic, and the scar is barely visible now, thanks to a vigorous regimen of tea tree oil and cannabis coconut oil (medical cannabis is legal in MA, and I am a cardholder!). My ortho surgeon was floored at how great the scar looked, and I even find myself occasionally admiring it! So if that's any indication, I think that I will heal successfully, and need to stay positive about that end. If complications happen, so be it. I have good support and help. Things will be okay. :)

T-minus 18 days! :D So excited!!!

I put together some idea "after" photos

The top-left is me pre-surgery, the rest are wish pics. Think I could attain this? Going to show it to my PS at our pre-op appointment on the 7th.

Pre-op appointment tomorrow morning

I'm so so so excited. Tomorrow is my pre-op appointment. I received my packet in the mail from the hospital two days ago, with directions on what to do in preparation for my surgery, what to expect, etc etc.

I am going to show Dr. Hein my photos, and see if that would be an attainable goal for shape and size. I'm also going to ask about a particularly startling negative review I found on here, claiming that she was more concerned about going on vacation than a patient's after-care. There are two sides to every story, but this is such a life-changing and permanent experience for me... I don't want to take any risks. I'd like to hear what she has to say and have her commit to an after-care plan on paper.

We are our own best advocates, and sometimes our only advocates. Ask all the questions, and don't take "I don't know" for an answer.

On that note, I have a question for the community: I am a pretty compulsive vaper (nicotine, around 3mg/ml, constantly throughout the day while I work). Reading through my packet, nicotine is described as a vasoconstrictor, and thus a no-no for up to 6 weeks prior to surgery. They even advise against transdermal patches and gum.

Does or has anyone have/had a similar experience with vaping and healing post-reduction?

I'll post tomorrow with results from the pre-op appointment! XO

Pre-Op was uneventful!

I spoke with Dr. Hein about the negative review on here, and she said that they had seen it but couldn't find a patient in their records in which that situation could have occurred (while she was supposedly on vacation). Maybe the patient was confused. I made it very clear to her that it was important to me to have access to her 24/7, and that as long as she is my PS, me and my boobies come first to her vacations. :P She understood!

Less than a week to my surgery, and I'm really getting excited. I also managed to drop 10 lbs prior to getting on the table, so hopefully that will help me. I showed Dr. Hein the pictures of I uploaded here of my ideal outcomes, and she said she can probably get me somewhere between the top-right (my ideal-ideal) and bottom-right. I'm MORE than happy with that.

Still feeling pretty good about things. I'll be taking more Before pictures in the next few days, since I've seen some really awesome ways people are doing collages with their before/after and through healing stages.

Re: vaping, Dr. Hein seemed very adamant that I quit for the duration of my healing, with good reason. I'm currently using 0mg (non-nicotine) liquid, and will plan on keeping it that way for now. I'm a fidgeter and I tend to call my vape my "pacifier"... I'm going to need something to do with my hands.

58 hours and counting!

The big day is getting closer and closer! I'm full of nervous excitement, and just trying to keep myself busy and focused has been proving a real task! I'd much rather be looking at y'alls pretty titties on RealSelf haha.

I'm trying to think of things I will need to have on hand while recovering. Any suggestions? My doctor has given me a prescription of Dilaudid to ease the pain over the first few days, then I'll be switching off to just Advil/Tylenol. I should probably have a few extra ice packs, too.

Later today, I'm going to Macy's to shop for new bras. I can always return what doesn't fit, but the bigger thing for me is actually visualizing what my new breasts are going to look like. I have been minimizing (literally and figuratively) the size of my breasts since I started growing them. It was always a shock seeing myself in photos. I want to put my bras side-by-side, old and new, and try to wear the new one.

So, you'll be seeing a lot of new photos from me over the next couple of days! ;)

Went "bra shopping" today...

Though honestly, it was more do it the laughs and before-after photos. I picked up 2 36DD bras (supposedly my post-op size, but it may be a larger back size after lipo).

More "before" pictures

Bonus update: I took more before pictures, from a variety of different angles. My breasts are VERY heavy, and I feel like everything from my gait to my turning radius is going to be affected (positively!) by this surgery.

For the other folks out there with big boobies, I feel your pain. Just know that it will get better! I know it will. :)

It's done, and going great!

I woke up from my BR surgery around 3 PM yesterday. The general anaesthesia made me queasy when I came out from under it. So they gave me some anti-nausea via a thigh injection, and I was right as rain. For pain medication, they used Fentanyl, much stronger than morphine.

They let me sleep as long as I needed to, then when I woke up, I had an orange popsicle to soothe the throat irritation from the breathing tube. Within the hour, I was headed back home.

I have two drains that I'm emptying regularly. Swelling is still an issue. Will update with pics later!

Day 1 post-op photo - more coming soon

End of first day (photos)

My PS put on a bunch of bulky bandages that were sticking to the incisions. I went to CVS and picked up some easy-to-remove tape and gauze bandages I was sent home with.

SO much more comfortable. I'm in virtually no pain, and my shoulders and back are feeling so much better.

First pictures of the new bandaging job, without bandages, and in the surgical bra. :)

Day 4: Still lots of swelling

My drains are still outputting about 10-15 CC of fluid, and I'm supposed to have my post-op appointment on the 22nd (Tuesday). Hopefully, they'll be removed! My breasts have been really swollen since the lipo. It took a few days for the bruising and full swelling to set in. However, I'm not putting out as much fluid in the drains, so I think everything is going well!

I went bra shopping today since I was feeling pretty good, and was measured around a 42DD (accounting for the swelling). I wanted to get a couple of compression-style sports bras, since I've seen others having good luck with those -- and if you get one of those Velcro-front surgical bras from the hospital after surgery, you'll eventually need to wash that/reshape it a bit.

Macy's had a sale on Bali bras, and I was amazed at how silky soft they were. The best part is that they stretch over everything. No squeezing already-swollen boobies into unnecessarily tight clothing. But the second best? They were BOGO 75% off! If you had a J cup or anywhere close to it, you know why I'm celebrating about that. None of those expensive plus-size brands go on sale, and when they do, it's a drop from "exorbitant" to "really expensive".

Other thoughts:
- I'm paying a lot more attention to my posture now. After surgery, I noticed that even though I did experience a lot of relief from having nearly 2 lbs removed from my chest, I still tended to slump. It's just muscle memory. So, I'm working on this, and noticing huge, immediate effects.
- Ice packs are everything. EVERYTHING.
- I need to stop lifting things. I read kimmers25's article on things to know about BR surgery, and felt personally attacked when she bolded "really important" lmao. I try to be a super hero but I also need to chill.
- Also need to drink a lot more water. I'm tapering off the Dilaudid in favor of medical cannabis, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and let me tell you... opioid constipation is a REAL problem, especially if you're already dehydrated.
- I am so happy I did this. <3

Bra shopping pictures attached!

One more, since I hadn't done a side-by-side yet :)

Here's a side-by-side of my pre-op and post-op photos!

Before: 36J, After (4 days post-op): 42DD (with swelling)

Day 8: Even more swelling?!

So, I didn't think it was possible for my boobs to get any more swollen. But they're getting hard now in the areas by where I had liposuction (sides, mostly). I'm not really sure what to do about this besides drinking lots of water, using ice packs, and taking ibuprofen/acetaminophen. They feel heavy, sore, and tender to the touch.

My incisions are healing well. I'm seeing some of the things I noticed on others' reviews, like blistering skin that peels to reveal pink, new skin. After reading a lot more post-op updates from other people lately, I'm feeling really grateful that she didn't do an anchor incision, but rather down from my nipple and out toward my armpit. I have no incisions on the inner half of my breast below the nipple, which I'm quite sure is helping speed my recovery along. The "T-zone" seems to create a lot of problems for folks after they have their sutures removed, including splitting (the thought of which makes me want to faint).

My post-op with Dr. Hein was this past Tuesday the 22nd, and she was impressed at how good I look. I forget sometimes that this really is a major surgery, and it's "reconstruction". My body has gone through a shock. I should be getting my sutures out next week, though, and I SINCERELY hope the swelling will go down in weeks 2 and 3! My breasts feel as heavy on me as my old ones were, though I know that's not the case.

Anyway, here's some Day 8 photos. Incisions are still thick due to the sutures still being in, but I'm doing pretty well! :)

Sleeping without a bra on?

Should I be ok if I sleep without a bra on at night, and just tape my incisions to prevent irritation? Even post-surgery, my breasts still sit well below the breast line (are kind of pendulous) but have higher nipples. Anyone else in this boat? I feel like sports bras either need to go up under my boob, or they roll up and get bunchy if I try to pull them down. Somebody else must know this struggle. :(

Day 22: Healing nicely!

It's been about two weeks since I last updated, and not a lot has changed, besides that I'm healing as expected. Which I consider to be a good thing! :)

Last week, my PS decided to keep my stitches in for an extra week, because the skin on troublesome Lefty's vertical incision had blistered before healing. The skin has since peeled, and is now closed up -- woohoo! I never thought I'd get excited about stuff like this haha. She'll be removing the stitches in just a matter of hours, tomorrow.

I'm showering without plastic wound covers, which is amazing. I can bend and reach comfortably, but still taking it easy. Sleeping on my side with a pillow prop is very comfortable, as well.

The only negative thing going on... I think I might have a minor hematoma in my left breast, deep in. It could also just be hormonal since it's that time of the month, but it feels like a hard mass, different from my milk ducts.

I will also be writing a review with pictures this weekend about this incredible surgical bra I purchased online. I had an opportunity to speak to the owner, who designed the bra herself. I think anyone who just came out of surgery should be wearing these things. The support is incredible, the price point was very reasonable, and it's made of really high quality materials.

Week 3 photos attached!

6 weeks in, and feeling great!

It's been a while since I updated. I've crossed the 6 week threshold, and have been really impressed at how fast my body is healing. Any necrosis I had is cleared up, and I only occasionally get deep-breast zaps.

Righty is one gorgeous boob! The surgeon really got everything right with the nipple positioning, and the scar is disappearing fast. Lefty is still a bit saggier compared to Righty (possibly because of the hematoma, which seems to be getting smaller), but is looking better with every passing week. Showering is totally normal, and I'm back to the gym working out. Energy levels are still a little low, but working out is helping. Next week, I'll be getting back into the pool. SO excited to be in a bathing suit again!

I've been sleeping braless lately, since it's more comfortable than wearing a bra, but I try to wear a bra most of the time. I've also woken up occasionally on my stomach with no pain or discomfort, but I try to avoid that with a pillow to my side. I use cocoa butter after showers and every night to keep my skin moisturized and prevent dry skin.

Otherwise, I thinking/hoping that I'm out of the woods with my breast reduction surgery! I'll post occasional updates. I feel so sexy now, and can't believe how much my body has changed since just 6 weeks ago.

So glad that I opted to have my breast reduction done, even if I didn't go down quite as small as I would have liked. I'm already losing weight, and everyone that's seen my breasts says they fit my body perfectly -- super-perky wouldn't quite look right.

Enjoy some 6-week post-op photos!

Coming up on 3 months, and doing a lot of thinking

Oh my goodness, another 6 weeks has passed. The good news is that nothing has really changed since the last update. My scars are softening and The bad news is that I'm having a lot of thoughts now about my breast size. I've lost some weight since surgery (~10-15 lbs), and I'm not noticing that I'm losing any weight in my breasts. That's fine, I knew this could happen... but I need to know what my options are.

But I am still a bit irked with my surgeon that I haven't gotten a straight answer on my nipple alignment and breast size. I feel like she went about the surgery to her own discretion, which I respect, but her decision didn't fix the problem.

When I first went into my surgery, I had no idea what kind of incision technique Dr. Hein was going to use. She ended up using a lollipop incision instead of an anchor, with the incision going down from my nipples, and out toward my armpits. I really haven't seen too many done like that, as the anchor incision seems most popular (according to this site, at least). But she assured me that this was the better option for me, and I saw a lot of indicators that not having a T-zone was a great benefit to my healing.

Also, my right breast pre-op was a good cup and a half larger than my left. Dr. Hein made several remarks that we'd need to see how things went with the right breast, as it would set the stage for the left one.

Well, that turned out to not be the case. The right breast turned out much better than the left. When I asked Dr. Hein why this was the case, she just said that she measures and marks from the sternum to nipple on both sides before making any incisions, and they were even. I mean, I can look at these and see that they're not even, so that's bullshit.

Immediately after I unwrapped for the first time, I felt like my left nipple was lower than my left. And today, at nearly 3 months post-op, I'm still having both shoulder/back pain AND rashes under my breasts. Furthermore, my left nipple has little to no sensation, where my right is just fine.

If she had used the anchor incision to make me smaller, I understand that we would have encountered more risks. But my insurance covered me to fix this problem, and the problem wasn't fixed by this plastic surgeon.

Dr. Hein has been a bit defensive, but I hope she'll be reasonable when I ask about my options at my post-op on Friday. I'll ask her to measure now and see how off we are, and she'll probably tell me that they've settled... but I'm not giving up. I still KNOW that my left nipple was placed far (~1") below where the other was. I'm not going to be gaslighted into believing I'm delusional about my own body. I look downward and can barely see my left nipple.

Has anyone pushed back at their PS after surgery because they weren't happy with the results?
If your insurance covered it, what did they do?
Would you recommend going to a different PS for a revision surgery? (I assume so)
And how long is nipple sensitivity supposed to take to come back? Is my left nip in an eternal coma?
Newton Plastic Surgeon

October 2016: I have met Dr. Hein once in 2008, and once in 2016. She has an excellent bedside manner, is super casual and comfortable to talk to, and made sure that any questions I had were answered. Perhaps most importantly for a large-chested woman, she showed great empathy and consideration of my weight (I'm not skinny at 230 lbs). She agreed with me when I talked about the dysmorphia I've experienced, not being able to look down and actually SEE my body or stomach much. When I look in a mirror, it's a shock. Not feeling like *I* was trying to educate *her* or change her preconceived notions was an enormous help. :)

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