It's time! I can't take the pain/discomfort any...
It's time! I can't take the pain/discomfort any longer. I've entertained the idea of a breast reduction for twenty years. I put it off, making hopeful excuses that they would go away if I lost weight, or I should wait until after I have children, or insurance probably won't pay because I'm overweight, etc. Since then I've lost weight and put it back on multiple times. My breast size never changed. Our family is complete with our child rearing days behind us. Now, I have one last hurdle, the insurance approval/denial. I'm concerned the procedure will be denied because I'm currently overweight by 60 lbs. Aside from this obstacle, I have all other classic symptoms of back pain, neck pain, shoulder grooves from bra straps, occasional rash under breasts, etc.
My first PS consult is tomorrow, May 4, 2016. I will post updates and pictures throughout my journey.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. They helped encourage me to make my first PS appointment and not wait any longer for the 'perfect time' to do this. I'm so ready!
Consultation done - Now waiting for insurance
My first consultation with the PS was today. He says I'm a good candidate and doesn't think I will have problems with insurance approval. He thinks he will take 1100cc's out of one and 1200cc's out of the other. Wow! I knew they were ginormous, but.....
Now I wait. The PS says the insurance approval/denial can take 6 to 8 weeks. If they approve, it will be another approximate 6 weeks to surgery (he's booked that far out). Until then, I will continue getting as healthy as I can, exercising and eating healthy. I'm down 15 pounds thus far. Patience. :-)
Insurance Rant - Interesting comments from member services
"Breast reduction is not covered unless it's considered medically necessary." This is the immediate response that I received from two different member services reps in two separate phone calls when I asked #1) Is breast reduction a benefit in my insurance plan?, and #2) Did you receive the pre-certification paperwork from my PS? The answer to both of these questions was "yes". But, they wouldn't answer my questions until they read me the "medically necessary" Miranda Rights first. They are always very nice to me after they read me my rights. It's a bit comical. I'm sure they've been told to do this. They are only the messenger. Sigh... :-)
Of course it has to be medically necessary before they will pay for it. We know this. I totally agree. I wouldn't think it should be any other way. I wouldn't be pursuing it if my doctors and physical therapist weren't adamant that it is medically necessary. They encouraged me to do it now due to the damage to my back instead of waiting any longer.
Okay...that was my rant!
The good news is that the insurance company has the precertification paperwork from my PS. So I should know whether or not they approved it within a few weeks.
Until then, I will keep my chin up and hope for the best!
The insurance approved my breast reduction. The surgery is scheduled for July 6, 2016. So excited! Yeah!!!
May 4, 2016 - PS Consult
May 9, 2016 - PS office submitted precertification paperwork to insurance (Anthem BC/BS). Anthem BC/BS says they have 15 days to review the request.
May 23, 2016 - Insurance approved breast reduction. PS office called me to schedule surgery.
July 6, 2016 - Surgery. Woohoo!!!!!!
I think the primary reason my surgery was approved by the insurance without any issues is due to the amount that will be removed from each breast, which is estimated at 1100 grams for left, and 1200 grams for right. My breasts are very dense and heavy. Additionally, I am a problem child at my local breast center with multiple biopsies and a couple of lumpectomies in my past (one was the size of a "kiwi" fruit per the surgeon). All were benign PASH. The PS says he will remove the 'marked' lumps during my surgery. I had my annual mammogram today. Keeping my fingers crossed that it comes back normal and there are no delays for the BR.
I am so looking forward to my breast reduction. Very happy right now. :-)
Until then, I will continue working towards getting healthy. I'm down 17 pounds to date.
Mammogram results are normal - Green light for July 6 surgery
My mammogram results came back normal. That was my last obstacle. It looks like I'm getting a breast reduction on July 6! WooHoo!!!
Surgery Prep: Last night I placed my post surgery amazon order for a surgical bra, gel ice packs, and a wedge pillow (hoping it will help me sleep in my bed post surgery as opposed to a recliner). I will spend the next month doing some spring cleaning, lining up supplemental care for my three year old while I'm recovering, preparing and freezing some meals, etc. Having this surgery right in the middle of summer is not the best timing, we have so much going on. BUT, I'm not complaining, nor am I waiting any longer. We will make it work with some planning!
After July 6, no longer will I hear...
"Your friend with the big boobs"
"Big boobs McGee"
"Anna!" (as in Anna Nicole Smith)
"Where did THOSE come from?!" (response when folks see me in swimsuit)
"You're the only person I know with breasts that large."
"Can you give me some of yours."
"Do they help you float in the water?"
"My husband is in love with your breasts." (yes, I've seriously heard this one more than once, which was too much)
I can go on, and on....I've heard them all. I love to joke around as much as the next person, which probably opened the door for some of these comments. But, not about my breasts! People don't realize that these comments are unwanted and not funny.
I'm so thankful for this forum and to talk to others who have walked the same steps!
20 Days Pre-Op - Suggestions for prep welcome
My July 6 surgery is quickly approaching. WooHoo!!! The time since my May 4, 2016 PS consult has flown by. I'm slowly preparing for the post op downtime. Any suggestions on what helped you post op is welcome.
I've purchased gel ice packs, a wedge pillow, sanitary pads for bleeding, surgical bra, sports bra's in various sizes, etc. I was stressed about meals/groceries since my husband will be swamped at work, taking care of our toddler and me, the house, etc. I will make some freezable meals ahead, but I like my fresh produce. So, I signed us up for Blue Apron meal planning service. They deliver the groceries right to your front door twice a week for 4 family meals. That should significantly reduce trips to the grocery store. I will let you know how it goes.
BTW...the sports bra's seem so flimsy. Hard to imagine they will provide any kind of support after the surgery.
I uploaded a new, non-black shirt, picture that was taken today. I'm wearing a sports bra, with a shape wear tank layered over the bra. This provides me with a lovely uni-boob. :-) You can see how out of proportion I am. Size 14 pants, size 2X top. I'm so incredibly excited about not being strangled by my breasts any more. Sigh...I should have done this surgery sooner. Can't wait!
7 Days Pre-Op! Yikes!
Next week at this time I will be reporting from the other side. So surreal! I'm excited, nervous, in disbelief, etc. I've been busy getting everything ready. I have a terminal parent (in hospice/nursing home) that I care for part of the time, as well as a 3 year old, and a husband. I'm working frantically to get everyone 'set up' so I can rest for a week or two after the surgery. Thank heavens for my supportive husband, and mother-in-law! She is staying with us for a week to help.
I got my pre-op labs done this morning. Hoping for good results.
Best of luck to everyone going through the procedure soon, and to everyone that is healing.
3 Days Post Op
Well, I did it! I'm reporting from the other side. My breast reduction surgery was three days ago on July 6. They removed a total of 7 pounds (3.5 pounds from each breast). The surgery took approximately 3 hours. I went home the same day with no tubes. I had drainage and bleeding on the day of surgery, but none since. They are perky, high, and little! The PS said they will be a C/D cup. My back pain was gone immediately after surgery. Amazing! Recovery has been what I expected. Anesthesia and pain pills always make me sick. So, regardless of the surgery, I don't feel well for a few days after. It's been no different with this one. I'm starting to feel better today. My breasts are itchy. The worse part has been the surgical bra rubbing against my incisions. Of course they are bruised, swollen in places, and look a little strange right now. But this will all settle as they heal. I'm very happy with them!
I will post more pictures later. I'm being summoned by my 3 year old right now. :-)
Buy a "Grip n' Grab" prior to your surgery!
I got mine from Amazon. It's one of those extension sticks with the grabber on the end. I have used it frequently since my surgery on July 6. Couldn't live without it!
5 days post op
5 days post op update. Feeling better every day. My post op check up with PS is July 14. Until then, I will sleep and rest as much as possible. I still have lots of swelling under my arms. It gets a little better every day. Ice and compression are helping this. Hence the reason I'm wearing two bras in the pictures. It feels better to have the extra support. I stopped taking pain pills on Post Op day 3. They were making me sick. I have strict orders to not take ibuprofen because it has aspirin in it, so I'm getting by with regular Tylenol. I go back and forth from the zinger pains, to itching, to tingling, to nothing. Lots of stuff going on in those little boobies right now! My back has been stiff. I think it's because I'm over compensating, trying not to pull on the incisions. As happy as I am with the results, I'm still a bit freaked out by the incisions. I guess this is the emotional part of the process kicking in. Wish I could fast forward a couple of months and be completely healed!!! Patience....
Suggestions for anyone getting ready to go through this surgery....1) Plan bed rest for at least a week. Sleep helps me heal and feel better more than anything else. 2) Buy some gel ice packs and use them. 3) Stock up on gauze rolls, gauze pads, and paper tape. 4) Buy a Grip n' Grab from amazon. I use it all of the time! 5) Buy some inexpensive surgical bras and athletic bras (amazon). The ones I bought were so much more comfortable than the one I was sent home in. And, yes, they will fit after your surgery! I know, it's hard to believe. :-) 6) Use hair dryer to help dry off after shower. You might be stiff and might not be able to reach all areas with a towel.
Day 6 Post Op - Incisions are sore and still swollen under right arm. Is this normal?
My incisions are still so sore. Is this normal? Have others experienced this? I don't have any pain while sitting still and resting. But, when I get up, the incisions are sore with movement. The places under my arms are still very sore as well, with the right being worse than the left. The right is still very bruised and swollen. I'm taking Tylenol only. The pain pills made me sick, so I stopped taking them on day 3.
I'm chalking it up to the fact that they took out 7 pounds total (3.5 on each side) and I need to be patient with the healing. I will talk to my PS about it the day at my follow up the day after tomorrow.
Wondering what your experience has been?
Post Op Day 9
Breast reduction is the best thing I've ever done for myself and my family. It is life changing. My back, neck, and shoulder pain are completely gone. My PS told me he thought the BR surgery would relieve these symptoms immediately. He was right. I'm so looking forward to playing more with my daughter, instead of sitting on the sidelines watching her play because my back hurts. I'm looking forward to being more active and losing some weight. I'm looking forward to shopping!!! :-)
With that said, here's what's happening day nine post op. I had my 8 day post op follow up with the PS yesterday. The steri-strips and four suture knots (the end of the sutures where they knot it) were removed. The rest of the sutures will dissolve on their own. Ahhhh...it felt so good to get the steri-strips off! The incisions look "great". I'm healing well. I'm still swollen under both arms, with the right being worse. He said that will go away. He talked to me about scar medicines, answered my questions, then sent me on my way with a 2 month follow up appointment card. It's done. Just like that!
I still have a lot of healing to do. The swelling is so bad under my arms that I can't put my arms down when I walk. But, it doesn't hurt. I'm a little bruised in some places. Right now the left breast looks much better than the right breast, which is boxy looking because it's more swollen. I feel pretty good in the mornings. By the end of the day my incisions are sore, my breasts are itchy (inside), and I'm tired. At times I get sporadic strange sensations in my breasts, such as, tingling, a shot of pain here and there, sensitive nipples at times, itching, etc. I have to walk a little slower yet. I still need more sleep than usual (7 hours is not enough). BUT, I feel better than I thought I would at this point. I'm amazed at how quickly the incisions are healing. Because I was honestly a bit freaked out when I got my first look at my new breasts last week at this time. They looked and felt so battered. I felt like I had T-Rex arms in the shower and that if I stood up straight the sutures would pop! hahaha Now they are healing, I'm getting used to them, and I love them!
Best of luck to everyone, regardless if you're starting your journey, in the middle of your journey (like me), or healed and at the end of your journey.
Addition to Post Op Day 9 - 1750 cc's removed from each breast
I forgot to mention in my Post Op Day 9 update that the PS removed approximately 1,750 cc's from each breast. It was a total of 7 pounds (3.5 each side). No wonder I feel so much better. Amazing!
12 Days Post Op
I'm feeling great! I'm amazed at how crappy I felt during the first few days after surgery, mostly due to the pain medicine making me sick...and how well I feel just 10 days later. I think I'm officially done with the difficult part of recovery. Over the hump! :-) :-) :-)
At 12 Days Post Op - The itching subsided significantly when the steri-strips were removed 4 days ago. Wondering if I was having a reaction to them? There were red marks that almost looked like burns where the steri-strips once had been. Letting the water in the shower run over these areas felt soooooo good. The redness is gone now. The swelling, and bruising lessens a little each day. My incisions are still a little sore and itchy at the end of the day, but nothing like they were a week ago. The doctor says I can wear athletic bras now. But they rub on my incisions. So, instead I'm still wearing the surgical bra I bought on Amazon. I ordered some bras with wide soft bands at the bottom from Amazon and Zulily. Hoping they're comfortable. Also hoping they fit. I have no clue what size I am. I've never in my life had to worry about a bra being too big. Loving it!
I'm researching scar treatments today. Any suggestions welcome. The doctor sent me home with some brochures. But, said there are lots of good options available.
3 Weeks Post Op - Hematoma in right breast
Between my 12 day post op comments and 21 days post op I experienced some additional swelling and new bruising in my right breast, whereas the left breast seemed to be healing well. I kept thinking the right breast would get better. But, every day I woke up to more new bruising and swelling that never seemed to get better. The final bruising covered about 1/3 to 1/2 of my breast. So I went to the PS yesterday. I had a hematoma that he thinks happened as a result of the trauma from the amount removed (3.5 pounds from each breast). This is also the same breast where I had two prior lumpectomies and two biopsies. Prior to the BR, I had some hard areas in it from the prior procedures. He drained the hematoma. This did NOT hurt at all! I couldn't even feel it. In fact, I had instant relief from the pressure that had been building in my breast. It was a little like watching a water balloon deflate. :-) I think he said he took out approximately 450cc's of old blood. Now it is the same size as the left breast. Additionally, the bruising is already subsiding today. Ahhhhhh......back on the road to recovery!
Aside from the hematoma, which is now gone, everything else looks great. My incisions are healed and I feel good. I've had a couple of pivotal days during the recovery where I felt much better. The first was around day 7, the second was day 19. As of day 19, the soreness around my incisions subsided greatly, I could raise my arms higher (didn't feel the tightness around incisions as much), and I wasn't completely exhausted by 4 p.m. I can wear a regular sports bra for a little while now. Up to day 19, only my surgical bras were comfortable. Other things to note....My nipples are still super sensitive. This is good! But, I cover them with a gauze pad so my bra doesn't rub them too much. My stomach still seems to be a bit bloated. I think this can be normal after surgery.
Recovery seems to be different for everyone. It's been two steps forward, one step back for me in some ways. In other ways it's been easier than I expected. I'm looking forward to the day that I'm completely recovered/healed. Lord give me the patience to take it easy until then. Regardless, I'm over the moon happy with my results!
4 Weeks Post Op - When does the itching stop?
Question for those who are Post Op. When did your itching stop?
I will be 4 weeks post op tomorrow. My breasts are still very itchy by the end of the day. I don't think there is a problem. They still swell too. I'm assuming the itchiness is due to the swelling and the fact that they are still healing. But, when did this stop for you?
Aside from that, I'm still healing well. BUT...still healing. I'm not 100% yet. The right breast is about a week behind the left with healing due to the hematoma that was drained last week. I actually went to my hometown the last two days for a funeral. I got home late last night. I'm exhausted. But, I made it through the 3.5 drive (each way), the hectic schedule, and two days of hugs. So, this is a note for those beginning your healing journey. Hang in there! It does get better.
5 Weeks Post Op - Feeling Better Every Day
Tomorrow is 5 weeks post op for me. I noted in previous posts that there were some pivotal days after the surgery where I started feeling much better. The first was at 7 days, the second was at 19 days, etc. Now at 5 weeks I'm feeling much, much better. My energy level is at 90 %. I'm not as worn out at 5:00 p.m. as I was last week. My physical abilities are at about 60% because my right breast is still healing from the hematoma that was drained 2 weeks ago. Because of the hematoma set back, the right breast is still a little sore, lightly bruised, and hard around the incision under my arm. It's also a little swollen yet. But it's getting better every day. The left breast is fine. No issues at all. I still have a little itching and swelling in both at the end of the day, but nothing like it was 2 weeks ago. Diet and physical activity during the day have a lot to do with the level of itchiness and swelling I have at the end of the day. I feel better if I eat lots of protein and vegetables during the day.
Other things to note at week 5 Post Op ...
At week 5 I stopped wearing my surgical bras and started wearing athletic bras instead. For the longest time I thought I would wear the comfortable surgical bras forever. The "Champion" brand is my favorite sport bra (it's the one I have on in the 5 week picture). On days when I want to wear a nice shirt instead of a t-shirt, I wear a Hanes seamless comfort bra and sometimes a shape wear tank over the top (I still need extra support for the hematoma breast).
My incisions are completely healed. The last small scab at the T junction of my right breast finally fell off this morning. I started using my scar treatment a couple of days ago. The instructions said not to apply it to open wounds, so I put it on all of the scars around the scab. I skipped over that scab area. I will begin using the scar treatment strips now that the scab fell off.
My stomach bloating has finally subsided. I can wear regular clothes again without discomfort, instead of the yoga pants I've been living in for a month.
Nipple sensitivity doesn't send me through the roof anymore. It's still there, but not as bad.
Driving the car isn't as uncomfortable this week as it was last week. I can now drive over railroad tracks and the hump at the end of our driveway without bracing myself and holding my breath! :-)
I finally went shopping for a couple of hours yesterday. Had a blast! I can wear dresses now, whereas I couldn't before because my top was 3 sizes bigger than my bottom. I tried on at least 10 dresses. Every one of them fit perfectly. It was a matter of picking the one I liked, instead of picking the one that fit my large breasts and hid them the best. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7 weeks post op
I'm currently in the beginning of my seventh week post op and life is getting back to normal. I'm at 90% physically. I can do more now than I could two weeks ago. (Note: I had a hematoma in right breast that delayed healing for me). Examples of improvements: I cleaned my car inside and out today with no problem. I can now pick up my 30 pound daughter (very carefully!) and hold her for a bit. I can reach high to get things out of the cabinets without feeling anything pulling. I can sleep comfortably on my side now. I can walk faster now without feeling discomfort from breast jiggling. Only people in this forum would understand this! I can hug people without pain now. These are all things that were still uncomfortable 2 weeks ago. So if you're early post op, have patience. It gets better!
I went bra shopping this week. I'm currently a D cup in most brands. I'm happy with this! My favorite bra is a seamless, wireless Olga bra that reduces side bulge. The support goes all the away around under your arms. This works well because my breasts are still healing, softening, and dropping. The Olga bra seemed to have the best fit for the current shape of my breast.
It's been a interesting journey! In some ways it was easier than I thought it would be. In others it was more difficult. Recovery definitely took longer than I expected. Regardless, I would not think twice about doing it again. It's life changing and I'm so grateful I was able to do it. My back, shoulder, and neck pain are completely gone and have been gone since surgery day. My breasts look amazing!
Some things I think helped me with recovery...
1) Eating lots of protein, greens (at the suggestion of another member on this site), and at least two servings of fruit daily during recovery. I had green protein shakes with kale, protein bars, eggs, and salads daily. If I have a day where I binged on carbs, my breasts itch like crazy. Eating too many carbs seems to increase the inflammation in my body.
2) I purchased two CzSalus surgical bras from Amazon. One in XL and one in XXL (I'm a 40 band). These were life savers because they were so comfortable. I still wear them! I wear the XL during the day, and the XXL to sleep in at night when end of day swelling is worse.
3) I bought one of those grab stick thingy's from Amazon. Couldn't have lived without this!
4) Inexpensive soft pillows from Wal Mart. I preferred these over the wedge pillow I purchased for $50. I still barricade myself with the cheap pillows at night to keep me from rolling onto my side. But, they're soft enough that it doesn't hurt if I roll over on one of them.
5) My husband bought me some 4 x 6 inch padded gauze pads from Wal Greens. OMG...they felt wonderful! They were like a soft pillow between my bra band and my incisions. I literally said "ahhhhh" the first time I used one (instead of the regular thin gauze I had been using). I used them until end of week 4. I would put on my surgical bra, then stuff one of the pads under the bra band. It was heaven.
6) I take Bromelain and vitamin C daily.
7) Drink lots of water!
I hope this information helps someone either getting ready to go on the journey, or currently recovering.
Best of luck to everyone on their journey!