So I've been lurking here several years(!)...
So I've been lurking here several years(!) and nearly went through with the surgery in the past, but for various reasons it all fell apart.
I have been suffering with Fibrocystic Breast Disease and extreme cyclic mastalgia for 20 years now. Way back in 1997, my breast surgeon recommended a reduction to make me more comfortable, but suggested I wait until after I've had children (I've now had 3!). Since then I have been on several OTC and prescription drugs for the condition, tried all sorts of things, but nothing is working for me.
So - here I am now aged 43. I am 5'4", a teeny tiny 105lbs, and my breasts fluctuate anywhere from 86cms at best, to 91cms at worst - this is in the space of a couple of weeks! I am so uncomfortable, in pain, swollen, heavy, and miserable, and frankly I can't face the thought of another SoCal summer with this. I am unlucky in that my breast is ENTIRELY breast tissue, virtually no fat at all, very dense, and this combined with a hypersensitivity to hormone fluctuations is what is making me suffer so extremely from a condition that most women do experience to a greater or lesser extent.
I have no idea what size I even am! If you plug my measurements into various spreadsheets you come up with various different sizes! But a common thread seems to measure me at roughly a 32/34 D-F depending on what time of the month it is.
I know that this surgery won't cure my FBD. But I have had several consults with breast specialists now, and the one thing they all agree on, is that removing as much breast tissue as is safely possible will make me much more comfortable.
On top of the issues with my breasts specifically, I then of course have the physiological issues associated with them (neck, back, shoulder pain, frequent headaches, kyphosis of the spine, inability to exercise properly) and my physical therapist has written a report detailing all of these problems. Then there is the sociological aspect of it all - I get a lot of unwanted and unsolicited attention and I feel ashamed and embarrassed. I slouch, try and hide myself, and I have been through bouts of depression over the years when they have been at their worst. In short - I've had enough!
I have consulted with several plastic surgeons here in Orange County (I am British but moved here a few years ago). The first one I picked because of great Yelp reviews. Unfortunately he let me down quite badly. He was all smiles and happy to do the work when he thought I was a cash paying patient, but then I thought no, why should I pay out of pocket for this surgery when this is treating a medical condition? So I told his office I would like to apply to insurance after all and suddenly his whole demeanor changed. He claimed he could only safely remove 200g(!) which as we all know is barely anything! He told me my breast was "only 400g to start with" which is just unbelievable! I mean - look at the size of me! (once I get some pics up!) and with the dense tissue - no way! I actually rushed home and weighed them that day on a portable scale - 750g!
Needless to say, insurance declined my application and I was devastated.
Then I went to Dr Kyle Song. OMG - it was like night and day. He took all the time I needed, he was kind, and honest. And he said to me - your breasts are very pretty, but they are too big for your frame. What a relief! To actually have someone acknowledge this problem! I handed over all my documentation - a chart I had written up showing at a glance everything I have been through over the years, socially, psychologically, physically, the drugs I have taken, the consults I have done. I gave him pictures, and the physical therapy report, and a long essay all about what I have been through over the years. His assistant Andi is now taking care of the insurance for me. They wrote back after the previous application and said that based on my height and weight they require a minimum of 238g to be removed. Well - Dr Song thinks he can safely remove 350g! I can't believe with that, plus all my reports and documents that they will reject me a second time.
So now it is just a waiting game. Should know within a couple of weeks.
I have found this site to be absolutely AMAZING in helping me even get to this stage in the process. I will be posting lots of pictures and going into a lot of detail over the whole thing, with the intention of "giving back" to all the reviewers here who have helped me. So feel free to ask me anything you want, I am more than willing to offer support and information to anyone else. Here we go! :)
OH MY GOD THEY SAID YES!!!!
I have JUST received the letter from the insurance company!!! They have approved my surgery!!!! OH MY GOD!!!!!!! I don't know how I feel?! Terrified! Excited! Scared! Ecstatic! Relieved! Changing my mind! YIKES!!!!
In fact, even now, the only thing that terrifies me more than the surgery itself, is going through another Socal summer with these buggers still swinging from my shoulders! This is really going to happen! Wow wow WOW!
I don't know any details yet. They said they have written to the provider as well, so I am guessing he will be getting information like minimum amounts that need to be removed, that kind of thing. I have fired them off an email, but as it's now Friday at 5pm, I will leave it till Monday to get in touch about scheduling the surgery.
OK - NOW I need feedback from people! I am REALLY scared! I have had one surgery before, and I was perfectly alright, so I don't know why I am being such a wuss, but - I'm being a total wuss! Is this normal?! Are most people simultaneously excited and terrified at the very thought of doing this?!
What preparations should I be making for the big day itself? Eating well, cutting out alcohol (ouch!), getting fit, tightening belly so new boobs don't make it look too big(?!), purchasing soft sports bra thingys, assembling an arsenal of "target boobs" to decorate the OR with?! Any and all advice and reassurance gratefully accepted right now!
Date has come through!
Just confirmed my date! May 16th at 8am! Just over a month to go! Here's another final before pic!
PS says he is planning to remove approx 360g from each side. I am
certain that will make me SO much more comfortable. According to the schnur scale that I know my insurance company go on, he would need to remove approx 238g-260g for insurance to cover it, so it sounds like I will be well within their parameters. That is my biggest fear right now - not the pain, not the scarring, not the risks, just the insurance company letting me down!
I'm just really down today. See attached pics - it is hot as usual here in SoCal and I feel like a look bloody ridiculous with these things strapped down into submission.
It's less than one month to go but I am TERRIFIED now that my surgeon will not understand just how small
I want to be. I've been looking at his before and after pics and for all the reductions he is only taking these women down one cup size. If I have to go through all this for just that, I will be devastated!
I am messaging him AGAIN (poor guy!) to reiterate how important it is for me to be very small. It's too late now to change surgeons - insurance approved, help flown in (I have no family here). I just have to make absolutely certain we are on the same page here.
Waiting waiting waiting....
Less than 3 weeks to go. I've found my perfect wish boobs and put them into a folder ready for the pre-op appointment on May 9th. I'm in that part of the month right now where I always look at them and think "I really don't need to do this, they are not that bad, not that big, not that painful, he's not even going to be able to get enough out..." etc etc. Conveniently forgetting that just 10 days ago I was in so much pain, I couldn't even hug my children or exercise. This is the nature of having this disease - it is literally constantly up and down. My surgery is scheduled for the worst possible time of the month for maximum effectiveness. Hopefully he will be able to take them down. I don't know why I feel like this anyway - I am sitting here in a 32DD bra right now and absolutely filling it to the max. My neck is aching and the straps are digging into my shoulders. These puppies need taking down!
I'm starting to look at ordering post op bras as well, and arnica and bromelain and anything else I need to take. Any suggestions and advice welcome!
So I saw Dr Song for my pre-op on Monday 9th. It was like visiting an old friends place for a party! Even though I've only been a patient for a month or so, everyone greeted me like an old friend - they are just so lovely there!
I was given a booklet to read by Ciana on reception, all about the possible things that could go wrong - basically death, hellfire, plagues of locusts infesting me, raging infections, exploding eyeballs....but nothing about waking up with bigger boobs so I'm good with it all! ;)
Then I saw Andi, the patient liaison girl, who went through all my instructions, the drugs I was going to be given, what I should and shouldn't be doing pre and post op, and best of all - a goodie bag containing Arnica (so that answered my question on whether I should take it or not!) and a scar cream called BioCorneum.
More hugs and best wishes later, I went into another room to see Dr Song himself. He took a bunch of measurements, and a bunch more photos - really, with this kind of thing you just have to kind of surrender your dignity at the door! he answered all my questions, and I showed him pics of my "wish boobs" (which unrealistically were all girls of about 19 who had clearly never had children! Poor guy is a surgeon, don't know about his qualifications for "miracles"!) and also pics of a girl from here who is more around my age/weight/size and whose reduction result I think was one of the best I've ever seen. He agreed that the same goals were in his mind too, and the second pics at least were very achievable, but he knows exactly what I want and he's going to do his very best for me. I trust him completely. But my last words ARE going to be "Small, OK?!"
He gave me prescriptions which I have now filled ready to go - Norco for pain, Keflex for antibiotics starting immediately post op, scopolamine(?) patch for nausea that I am to put behind my left ear the night before surgery and keep on for 3 days post. And finally Xanax, because you never know when I might throw a hissy fit and completely wig out! Good to have as back up!
So I have now put my medication schedule into a spreadsheet (partly because it's complicated, partly because I'm a control freak and don't trust my judgement post-op!), I have been fitted for a Marena bra post op which looks freakily like a suicide vest to me but I won't go there...., I have also ordered two fruit of the loom front fastening sports bras from Amazon because I hear they are insanely comfortable. I'm pretty much ready to go! Just the countdown now!
I will post some pics of my medication schedule that might help people know what to expect. I am at day 22 in my cycle now, and right on schedule the girls are starting to puff up and ache, so I know we are on track for them to be at their worst the day of surgery which is exactly what I wanted.
I'm pretty much ready to go! The only frustrating thing I have is the odd comment from people saying "They are not that bad" or "You don't need to do this" etc etc - NO ONE - I mean NO ONE - can understand what it is like to live in your own unique body and deal with the things you deal with. I may not LOOK that huge, but perspective wise, you take a DD on a 105lb frame, it is as bad as G's on a 5'7" 180lb frame, and that is before I even get into the FBD and what goes on inside the breast itself each month. So please - don't let anyone try and talk you out of what you want and need to do for yourself - you know best!
A few last minute pics!
Here I am working out in the gym today trying to get as fit as possible before the big day. Boobs really aching today (day 22 of cycle) and know from experience they will be ramping up even more tomorrow :(
Well that was quite the experience!
Went in for 7am. Filled in paperwork and did the payments and things.
Went back into the pre-op area and changed into a gown and slippers. Then the surgeon came and marked me up. That's when it got real!
The nurses put me into bed in the recovery/pre op room. It was wonderful! They had a kind of plastic heated blanket and it was so snuggly warm! One nurse asked me a bunch of questions while the other got my IV started.
Dr Song was already in the OR getting prepared. The anesthetist came out to check on me and said he'll go get the meds ready. I asked if I could put in a request for Valium! By this point despite my lovely warm bed and the kind nurses I was literally shaking from head to foot! He patted his shirt pocket and winked and said "I've got you covered!" He was a lovely sweet guy, I'm guessing semi-retired now and comes out for the odd surgery here and there.
Then it got REALLY weird! -he pushed the Valium into my IV, and I felt really woozy and relaxed. Then he put in another syringe of Zofran for nausea. I think he may have also given me fentanyl. I've since found out that the combination of those drugs makes you very woozy. I would say so!
They told me they were going to wheel me in to theater and have me swap on to the operating table. But actually - the last thing I remember was them putting up the side bars on my bed and starting to wheel me towards the OR door. Apparently I was awake when they took me in but I don't remember a thing! It literally felt like nothing at all - I was out within a few seconds and no clue what was going on.
I woke up in recovery and that was that! Took just over 2 1/2 hours so not bad at all. I think my Nose surgery took longer and I only have one of those!
I never saw the surgeon afterwards to thank him and the anesthetist. Apparently he had more surgeries to do. I felt bad but the nurse assured me I had thanked them both when we left theater. Don't remember that at all either! It's strange, knowing that I had a conversation I cannot recall at all!
He's taken 350g from each side, she told me. So I'm well above the insurance minimum.
I was in recovery for about an hour, and my vital signs were all perfect. She gave me some pure oxygen to breathe, and after that they released me and I came home. Good call for whoever suggested a pillow for the journey! Very grateful for that so that the seatbelt didn't dig in! I also recommend bringing a puke bag just in case, and a bottle of water. I was very thirsty.
I've been kind of drifting in an out of consciousness all afternoon. When I'm lucid I bash out a few messages.
I am in pain, but it's very bearable. I have quite a bit of pain in my sides and my ribs feel bruised so I wonder if he did some lipo on me after all.
I got up for a short walk earlier but then came over very nauseous so went straight back to bed. The nausea is the worst bit, even though I have a. Scopolamine patch behind my ear and they pushed Zofran into my IV! The nausea is slowly getting better. In the beginning I had it even lying down. Then it was only if I got up and walked around. Today (day after surgery day) I've woken up and the nausea is MUCH better. Another thing I wasn't expecting - I am SO itchy all over my body. I think this is also a reaction to the anesthetic but I would recommend people about to do this get something like Benadryl or cortisone cream and keep it handy.
I keep sipping at water and had a vitamin C drink earlier. Just trying to flush everything out.
I see what people mean about being bloated! I wasn't expecting that either!
I feel very giddy at times but it's getting better. I had that from the moment I woke up the morning of the surgery - it was probably the patch causing it.
Other than the sides, I am in very little pain. It feels a lot like the same dull ache I have when they are swollen, just worse.
They look swollen at the sides but I can't see much at the moment as I am all trussed up. But I already feel lighter, it's a really good feeling!
Going to sleep a while longer. My dog has not left my side since we got home!
A few pics in comments. When I can get some proper after pics I'll take them.
Please help! I've just taken a shower for the first time (Doctor approved it) and when I stood up, it looks like my nipples are way too low on my new breast! I'm also massively swollen and seem to be the exact same measurement as before surgery, even though he said he removed 350g! Can I be THAT swollen?!
Are my nipples looking too low? And why do I still look so big?!
Post-op appointment just finished
I was going to see him tomorrow, but the office called me this morning and it seems they have revised his schedule, so I went in today, which was perfect actually, as I wanted to grill the poor man on all this swelling!
He said he didn't do lipo on me because there was nothing there to be lipo'd! I forgot to ask him why my ribs feel all bruised and achy, but I'm sure the answer is because I just had major surgery!
He said everything looks really good, and he will see me again in two weeks. I'm to leave all the tape on the incisions, but it is waterproof and safe to shower with. I am also to keep the post op bra (Marena) on until I next see him, 24/7. I'll take it off and put on a spare to wash it, but other than that it needs to stay on permanently.
I asked him if there was anything specific I should be doing to avoid an infection, and he said just keep taking the antibiotics, that's it. Sounds simple enough!
So now I can just start to get back to normal. I am going to take it easy for a few days, and allow my body to heal, but I'm now feeling a lot better for having spoken to him. I'll update again with some more pics weekly from now on, so everyone can see the progress.
Day 3 post op
Looking very pretty on my left hand side! Sort of like a camouflage sunset! This was where I know I had a lot of cysts and benign tumors and crap going on, so I'm guessing the surgeon found them and went after them aggressively. No complaints from me, that was what I wanted!
Breasts of course continue to be very swollen and a weird shape, but I can see the swelling coming down - day 1 I measured my circumference around the widest part and I was 90cms. Today only 3 days later I am a fraction over 86 and with lots more to go so I am starting to get absolutely thrilled about what the final result might be once all the swelling comes down. I know the numbers are arbitrary, but after YEARS of monitoring my breasts daily for fluctuations in size due to the FBD, I know exactly what sizes make me comfortable, look good, are too much, etc. if I wind up at around 82-83 I will be on cloud 9 !
I have throbbing shooting pain in my left boob outer side right now, but absolutely bearable. I'm also getting a vibrating "whirring" sensation in left outer boob as of yesterday, and now right outer boob too. Not painful or even unpleasant - feels almost like a tiny bee is trapped in there!
I am totally off the Vicodin now as of 24 hours ago and I feel MUCH better for being off it. Just managing pain with acetaminophen now. Ice packs are REALLY COMFORTABLE and helping with the swelling. Feeling good!
I am off all pain meds now, and starting to get out and about more. I'm a little delicate and sore, but nothing that needs medication, although not adverse to taking it if I feel I need to.
I went for coffee with my mum today - I walked towards the shop and caught sight of myself in the floor to ceiling windows. Who IS that girl??! Look how tall she is! Look how straight her back is, and how her shoulders naturally hold themselves upright. Look how slim she is! She looks so confident as she walks along with her head held high! It's ME!
My surgeon called yesterday and told me the pathology reports are back and everything is clear, which is wonderful news. He also told me that my breast tissue was absolutely terrible! Gee, thanks! So thick and fibrous he couldn't even get through it with the usual tools, and it was "choc full of what we call blue dome cysts". A quick google established what those were as I'd never heard of them before. He said he's taken out as much as he safely can. I am insanely incredibly grateful. He's done exactly what he promised he would for me. My swelling is already down from around 91cms on day 1, to 84cms here on only day 4. I still have lots of swelling to go, but it's looking like I am heading for my magic B I have always dreamed of! I am sure I will have many more ups and downs during this journey of recovery but for now at least I am feeling wonderful and I'll take it!
Day 6! Almost 1 week post and doing good
I'm out and about (first stop Target to see what off the peg bikini top fits me!) but I then come home and rest for an hour or so. I get tired easily but every day feels a little better than the last. One of the things I'm finding fascinating is how everyone gets different advice and treatment post-op. In my case I could shower after day 1, but I'm to leave the dressing strips on for the full 2 weeks and the surgical bra for 2 weeks 24/7 except to shower or wash it. I'm amazed how quickly the swelling has come down in the first week (I wonder if that is the Bromelain?) but I seem to have hit a "stalling point" now where there is still swelling there but it's not coming down so fast. Could be because I'm getting more active and I know from other posts that while activity is a good thing, it does cause more swelling. It's a long process of healing I guess.
Personally I am shocked at how bruised I am and I don't feel like the Arnica has done a thing for me at all. Worth trying because it can't hurt, and I have heard from other people it has worked well for them, but not in my case. The bruising is coming out more and more now, and down my left side I am all colors of the rainbow. The right side is the same but to a lesser extent, and around my areola and through the lower part and middle of my breasts I am a kind of desert camouflage greenish/yellow!
Like most people one side is way better than the other. My left side is a lot more painful, with some numbness over the skin surface and a lot more swelling. But it's all bearable and definitely worth it. I still feel amazing! Waiting for the post-op blues to kick in, but so far so good.
The worst but for me is actually my belly! Yeuch! In my twenties I didn't need to do anything, it just was tight. In my thirties, it stayed tight if I kept working on it regularly. Now in my forties, just a week of no exercise and yikes! I look pregnant! Really sucks! Can't wait to get back to the gym again and do something about it, but for now at least I'm going to have to just suck it up as that is still a way away. Would help if I could just stay away from those damned gluten free monster cookies, but they are soon good for comfort eating! Must....resist....!
I can't stop crying - 2 weeks 1 day
My breasts have gone into a really weird shape and the nipple is getting lower not higher. I feel deformed. It's just awful. I thought right after surgery the nipples were too low but I was told to wait for the swelling to go down. Well it is now and they are getting worse. I don't know what to do
Day 19. Doing better!
So I think looking back now that that day 16 freak out was normal and expected and right on schedule!
To girls going through this process: do not underestimate the emotional journey! I was cocky enough to think as I am perfectly chilled and well balanced I am not going to get hit like so many other women do! Who did I think I was?! :-)
Sure enough - I think the combination of seeing my scars for the first time, not having the "perfect" dreamed about look immediately after surgery, (self pressure much?!) and generally having a shit week altogether just pushed me over the edge.
This is me - go right to the edge, jump, freak, land, give myself a good talking to and pull myself up again. Here I am back on top :) !
Scars: for gods sake woman, you've just had major surgery! Keep doing what Dr Song says and you will be fine.
Boxy shape: yes it's freaked me our how high and wide they are, but a quick perusal of a bunch of before and 6 months to a year after pics, and NO ONE has that boxy shape any more. Patience, Dessy, patience!
Low nipples? Quite possibly, way too early to tell. But the lovely doctors here on real self have been kind enough to address my fears in the question forum, plus a bit of googling has also told me that the chances are they are absolutely going to "drop and fluff" and at that point the nipples will come around and up. And if that doesn't happen after the drop and fluff, a simple local anesthetic procedure in the office can correct them for me. It is not the big "go under again, go through all this again" deal I thought it was.
So - new plan. Stop freaking out and just let time take its course!
Scars are looking scary! Not so red but tender and raised and there seems to be sutures sticking out in regular intervals along them! Must be patient!
6 weeks 6 days!
So I haven't posted in a while as I've been dealing with some un-boob-related things. But I'm continuing to do well, healing nicely and swelling coming down slowly. On a good day I'm getting under 82cms now, whereas I was 91cms before surgery! Incisions are looking good and I'm very grateful I haven't had any problems there to date. Swelling continues to be a problem, especially at that time of the month, where I am in this pic actually, but I am definitely on a shrinking trend still!
Still feel my nipples are going to be too low, but I understand the fix is relatively simple so I will deal with that once I'm fully healed.
Went to Victoria's Secret and measured a large 32C! I'm pretty happy with that and feel like I might yet hit the magic 32B I've always dreamed of!
9 weeks and feeling AMAZING!!!
23 Jul 2016
2 months post
Doing absolutely wonderfully now! Down to under 82cms, even under 81 at the best time of the month. Still feel nipples a tiny bit low but starting to come around now, slowly. Scars are red but flat and no dog ears. Vertical scar from areola to horizontal incision has virtually disappeared! I am starting to wear the odd underwire bra which always gives me a better shape, and the 34B fits perfectly, if anything it's a little loose! Feeling incredible, blessed and thankful I took this journey. Will update with pics when I can reload my photo app! But no regrets whatsoever! Forever grateful to my amazing surgical team, Dr Song and his itty bitty titty committee!
22 Aug 2016
3 months post
I am feeling INCREDIBLE! Swelling has dropped down now and I am about 81cms all around (down from 91cms before all this). Nipples are slowly coming around and rising up from where they were just after surgery. Had a check up and the surgeon explained that he sutured me really tight underneath my breast to stop the scar riding up over time, and that suture is taking a while to release which is why my nipples are being pulled down, but when it does they should settle into a higher position on the breast.
But the best news of all - and what I really want to communicate to anyone who is suffering from fibrocystic breast disease the way I was - I AM CURED!
This is my third cycle since the surgery, and I have had VIRUTALLY NO SWELLING, NO PAIN, NOTHING AT ALL!!! It doesn't make logical sense that this should happen, as there is still breast tissue there, but if what is there is still swelling, it is not causing me enough of a problem to be aware of it. I am beyond thrilled! More comfort size wise was the best I was hoping for, and possibly less swelling and pain, but I never dreamed I could actually be CURED of this condition!
It's still early days I know, but I am feeling incredibly happy and positive about everything. It's been quite the journey to get here, but it's been worth it. I am able to exercise much more comfortably now with smaller breasts, and my body is the fittest and tightest I think it has ever been. And it's only going to get better from here!
To anyone still considering this journey - find a surgeon you can relate to and who understands your specific needs, show pictures, agree size goals, prepare yourself mentally for that post-op blip period we all seem to have and ride through it, don't panic(!), and know that the odds are on your side that you will come out the other side happy and comfortable. Best of luck to anyone still going through it! Pics in comments!