Ok. One year update: I'm gonna tell you what NOT to do, so you can learn from my mistakes...

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I've wanted a breast reduction pretty much ever...

I've wanted a breast reduction pretty much ever since I grew breasts in the third grade, which was almost thirty years ago. I went from flat as the midwest to Mount Everest almost overnight; I was 32 E by sixth grade. They don't make that size, so I learned early on to wear one size bra for lift, one size bra for coverage, and another to pull the whole ugly mess together. I've worn normal type bras under two jogging bras. I've wrapped athletic wrap around the top of one jog bra and wrestled another one on top of the wrap. I've worn bras that were many sizes too small just to have the smallest measure of dividing and conquering. I have spent two hundred dollars on a handmade bra by an Etsy type business that had rave reviews from big busted clients, only to have the same industrial strength bra literally burst its seams a few months later. I can't afford expensive bras anymore, so I get three ugly, cheap bras from TJ Max and wrestle my chest into semi-submission. This coping method is not what you would call successful. I sometimes think I'm the only person in the world with a muffin top situation of the chest variety. This is still my standard operating procedure to this day. Three. Bras. Wouldn't you think that would be all I'd have to say to an insurance company to get qualified for surgery? "Hi there, Blue Cross, I wear three bras and none of them actually do what I need them to do." "Hi back, you three bra-ed freak, of course we'll cover your surgery, to do anything else is inhumane." If only.
Someone told me (years ago) that Victoria Secret had lovely bras that fit bigger sizes, so I went in and asked to see their big bras. The visibly uncomfortable clerk said she needed to measure me first, and after doing so, blushed furiously and said, "I'm sorry, we don't have anything THAT big here." So that was fun.
I had been very athletic since a young age, and tried everything to manage the giant mass on my chest. When doctors and insurance companies say that we should just work out more, I want to scream. They should first tie two bags of flour to their chest and then try to work out even once, let alone for years. Working out does nothing except keep the rest of your body toned; it doesn't reduce chest mass, and, at least at my size, it doesn't take care of the pain problem. And it is so damn hard to work out at my chest size. I can't jog anymore and I stopped swimming workouts the day I saw a man taking my photo with his cell phone. He wasn't subtle about it, either. You'd think that past a certain point I'd lose the ability to be embarrassed, but nope.
I have sharp neck pain, shoulder pain, and now chronic back pain. My arms and hands are numb in the morning. I get headaches that spiral into migraines. I dealt with the pain with heating pads, Motrin and Tylenol when I was younger, but the accumulated years have left permanent damage. I now have a hump at the base of my neck from posture problems. It's hugely embarrassing to me and from what I've read, I'm stuck with it regardless of a successful surgery. I've tried posture devices. They were expensive and ultimately worthless when the primary problem hasn't been dealt with. I also have such severe lower back, neck and shoulder pain that I have to take narcotic pain killers and get trigger point injections and epidurals from my pain doctor. Lately, I feel like I can hardly stand up by five pm; I've caught myself bending over like a hunched back old lady if I stand too long.
I walk, I do modified yoga, I stretch, but I am not an athlete anymore and I grieve that loss. I loved being strong, I loved movement and speed and physical self assurance. I shouldn't have waited. I delayed breast reduction surgery until I was absolutely sure that I wouldn't have any more children, and to my own way of thinking, just speaking to my own situation (this is just my opinion; not advice), I've made a terrible mistake in waiting. I waited because I had a very allergic child who did brilliantly with breast feeding, and because various family and doctors kept telling me that breasts went down in size after breastfeeding, after losing the last of the baby weight, that to lose sensation in my nipples would be the most aggravating thing ever, etc, etc, etc. I'm not blaming well meaning people; I have no one to blame but myself. I'm in charge of my health and it is madness to think otherwise.
It is especially mad to listen to doctors as if they have windblown hair from their recent descent from Mount Sinai, but I'm sorry to say I did so. I treated various doctors and their input as gospel ("What's too big, anyway," "Men like a curvy woman," "Big breasts are in style, most women would pay a lot for bigger boobs," "Don't do anything you'll regret; you'll hate being smaller," and, of course, "Just exercise").
But I shouldn't have waited. I should have pushed for surgery the moment my allergic child weaned. I mostly put off the surgery for potential future children that never happened (I wanted more kiddos but Stuff Happens. Oh, Stuff. Why are you always Happening?).
I have spent my entire life since puberty hating my body. Men talk to my chest, or try to be polite and look everywhere else to avoid the big damn elephant (or two medium sized elephants) in the room, kids in school were cruel as only young children can be, and I learned very early to put up with sexual attention from people who were old enough to know better. I have had people do double takes when I'm not wearing my usual loose, flowing clothes and it is humiliating.
It has been so strange to watch my teen daughter and her healthy relationship with her normal sized breasts. They are pretty and proportionate to her slender frame and she loves them, is empowered by them, loves buying bras, loves buying clothes, loves looking at herself in the mirror, loves the way she looks in a swimsuit. It's wonderful to see, and I'm so profoundly relieved that her body is a joy and not a burden. But it's completely alien to me.
I won't go into how it feels to go bra shopping when you are a size H. Everyone on this board already knows that uniquely humiliating, infuriating exercise in futility. I also won't speak to the experience of loving clothes, fabric, design, shopping, and knowing that the only styles available are baggy and baggier. Even the maxi-dress trend, which hide a multitude of sins and look great on everyone, were fraught with negativity for me. I love them but can only fit into the maternity size ones because I'm so top heavy. I can't tell you how many of my clothes I've bought in the maternity section of Target or TJ Max. The plus size clothes I can afford are ugly, shapeless and flat out tacky. Lovely, well designed clothing like Eileen Fisher are not in my teenytiny budget.

So. I started my long delayed but lifelong dream of breast reduction surgery last month. I've been researching it for years and years, but the first person photos and accounts on this site gave me the push and the information that I really needed. After lots of input from everyone BUT the people having the surgery, I finally got real photos, real answers, real experiences. What an amazing resource this place is!
I had an appointment with Dr Joseph Barnthouse in KCMO, but it took more than three months to get into him, and my appointment got moved once, making it even longer, so I kept looking and made an appointment with Dr Gary Hall in Overland Park. It only took about a week and a half to get in for a consultation.
The consultation itself was a bit odd. With my years of research, I went in expecting a conversation and examples. Dr Hall wasn't rude, exactly, but he wasn't warm, and he made me feel like my questions were unwelcome. I said I was concerned about shape and nipple placement, because there seem to be a huge variety of that in the before and after photos. I was especially concerned because the after photos of the plastic surgeon in my hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, actually seem to be almost square-ish with extremely low nipple placement (with the nipples almost pointing directly south;not attractive, really bizarre in fact....every single after photo looked the same). The doctor interrupted me and said "So the after pictures of middle aged women didn't look like the before photos of young teen girls? Why are you surprised?" He sounded so exasperated I didn't pursue it. When he asked what cup I'd like to reduce to, I said I knew that I am not very slender, that I'm a size sixteen (previously size ten) from a dead thyroid and I have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight but I've given up on that ever happening, and that bigger bodies shouldn't go too small, but in spite of that I really, truly want to be a C cup (I know, I know, not exactly articulate), and he said "Why? Why can't you be a C? What does being plus sized have to do with anything? If you want a C cup, you can be a C cup." So, that's nice? I guess? That I don't have to beg to be as small as I want? When I said I'd read that it's best to bring photos of before and after pics that most resemble the shape, size and nipple placement that I'd like, he interrupted me and said "Yeah, no, not necessary." So. Not outright rude, but certainly not winning any Florence Nightingale awards for bedside manner. With my bad thyroid and my chronic pain I've been to so, so many doctors, many of them lacking any sensitivity or capacity to connect or even fake a caring manner. Dr Hall's bedside manner doesn't even crack the Top Fifty playlist, however, he sure as hell doesn't make the I Love My Doctor anthology, either.
That being said, I've learned the hard bad way that I'd rather have a super competent doctor over a super personable one who only has a little game, a la Doctor House or Doc Martin, and Dr Hall seems to have mostly good reviews, and his before and after pics are pretty good. I don't think I'm going to find NY/LA level plastic surgery here in the Midwest, and frankly, at this stage of my life, I'm just trying to get boobs that will stop wrecking my health and that won't look too terribly bad. Contrary to whatever storyline Dr Hall has playing in his head, I don't expect to look like a twenty something, post surgery. I just don't want weirdly placed nipples or weirdly square-ish shaped breasts. It seems like even the biggest, saggiest boobs have a more graceful shape to them than a lot of the post surgical stuff I've seen, so I am concerned about that, but like I said, I'm at the point where I just want them reduced, period. I want to wear a pretty bra before I die. I want to wear truly trashy, filthy underwear, just once in my life. I want to wear a tee shirt without getting uncomfortable reactions, I want to go shopping without wanting to cry. But mostly, I'd like to be able to make it through the day without pain medicine, to stand up straight all day long.

I'm accepted by insurance! Better than the letter getting into college :)

I didn't think I'd get accepted without a lot of nonsense because the surgeon's nurse kept calling me and saying "I'm sorry, but the insurance company keeps asking me more questions for your case," and the questions were flat amazing. Stuff like: why do you think you have a rash under your breasts all the time? Have you tried baby powder, etc? Why do you think your back hurts? Have you tried exercising?
I must say, I'm impressed by the masterful show of prevarication from them. Truly top notch bureaucratic maneuvering.
So, after the third round of questions via phone from the nurse, I thought, golly, this is going to be ugly. It's never gonna happen.
But then! A week after the last question (have you tried buying bras that fit better? not. joking. I fully expected the next question to be: have you tried the power of positive thinking?) I got a letter out of the blue from the insurance company saying I'd been accepted and to go ahead and schedule the surgery. I'd like to think it's because of the superior manner in which I conquered the questions, but I suspect it's really that some poor schmuck looked at my topless mugshot and went "My eyes, God help my eyes!" and stamped it in an effort to expunge the horrific sight.
So from first appointment to acceptance letter was less than two months. Very fast. I have the surgery tentatively scheduled for Feb 18, two days before my forty fifth birthday. Best present ever, no?

Surgery scheduled

So we're on for this coming Tuesday. A week from today. I'm in a weird state of swinging from extreme anxiety to extreme boredom, the 'just get it over with' kind. I've been researching this for so damn long, literally years, that I've kind of topped out, emotionally. I'm trying to get meals cooked and frozen so my teens don't starve or live on Ramen for two weeks (next on the list: teach kids to cook, for heaven's sake). I'd like to get the house scrubbed, because nothing is worse than being sick with a sick house (ok, yes, there are worse things but you take my point, I hope). I need to order some wound honey (Manuka medihoney) from Amazon, because the two giant health stores in town only carry normal Manuka honey. I'm gonna buy some of that too, just on the premise that if it can be used as a lovely facial, that maybe it will help surgical stuff a bit, at least until the medi-honey comes in the mail. I need to track down some Duoderm hydrocolloid cream/wound dressing patches as well; I've read that they help with scarring.
I am really (reallyreallyreally) nervous about the anesthesia. I've had enough surgeries to know that you always feel like you've been cut at or stabbed, no matter how competent the doctor is, but that the pain, although pretty bad, fades after a week to tolerable levels. I've had some bad reactions to anesthesia though (going numb for a few months after one surgery, waking up in the middle of another surgery). I'd love to talk the doctor into doing some local-twilight-sleepy type thing instead of general. Here's hoping all goes well. My thyroid is mostly kind of stabilized now (Hashimotos), I suspect that will help with metabolizing the anesthetic.
So I've got a list of things that need doing; hopefully working my way through them will help keep anxiety at bay. From all the reviews I've read, it seems that being nervous is part of the deal, but not a dealbreaker. I mean, we'd all suffer a lot more than scary cutting and anesthetic and cold fish doctors to get rid of the weight on our chests, right?

Cue the Hallelujah chorus! I'm post op!

I had the surgery Tuesday, I'm writing this early Thursday morning. It's my forty fourth birthday today... I'm sure everyone on the breast reduction forum agrees with me that this is the best present ever! Even feeling miserable is wonderful, because that means this is real, it really happened, I finally, finally got my reduction.

I am in a lot of pain. I always read other reviews and thought, hmmm, just how bad is it really? Like childbirth bad, or broken bone bad, or just a bad cut bad? It turns out, in my personal body with my personal nerve endings, that the pain is pretty damn bad. Not childbirth bad, though.
The drive home was tricky. I brought two pillows, one to lie back on under my head, one on my chest to cushion the seat belt. I had to get the seatbelt pushed up behind my head and away from my chest because even with the pillow, it was too painful. The drive was about an hour from home, and we hit a lot of bad road because of potholes from the rough winter. My poor daughter had to drive in rush hour traffic on the freeway after just getting her license last week, with me going "OhgodOhgodOhgod gasp gasp gasp" the whole way. I'm sure she was ready to knock me out with a frying pan by the time we got home, poor thing.
I haven't been nauseated, but I also haven't really been eating. Mostly crackers and clear soda. I don't have an appetite, I'm craving popscicles but haven't even had the willpower to eat any of them. I've been taking hydrocodone every four hours; I find myself watching the clock before the next dose like a nun counting rosary beads (with veeeeeery intent focus). I know how important it is to stay ahead of the pain, instead of chasing it, and the meds do take about a half hour to really kick in, so I have been taking them every four hours on the dot.
I'm surprised by how much it hurts. I've been wanting surgery for twenty five years, have been thinking and researching for so long, and wondering just exactly what it feels like, post op, so there's a part of me standing off to the side going "Huh, ok then. This is what it's like. Pretty bad, but not a ten on the pain scale. More like a seven, and a five at the height of the pain pill cycle." I haven't really slept since I woke up from the surgery. Lots of light dozing, but no proper sleep. I'm just too uncomfortable. I'm very tired, but I just haven't been able to do real sleep yet.
My daughter has been taking extraordinarily good care of me; I've lucked out in that regard. She's keeping me very hydrated with water, mint tea and clear soda, and helping me to the bathroom. I don't know what I'd do without her, to be honest. If I have any advice for anyone's future surgery, it is this: get a competent, calm, kind caretaker. I'd be in a very bad way indeed if I wasn't being waited on; I'm quite helpless still at two days post op. I have to have help adjusting my body on the sofa, to sit up and stand up, and to walk to the bathroom. I couldn't even pull my pants down and up the first day after the surgery. My arms aren't working very well and my armpits are exceedingly sore. It didn't occur to me that there are muscles under the breast tissue (I know, kind of a bimbo, no?) because I've just always thought of my chest area as a mass of worthless, heavy fat. But it feels like I've got deep cuts under my arms, into my pits, and underneath my breasts, and every time I try to adjust my position on the sofa, or get up to use the bathroom, I almost bite through my lip because it's so painful. What I'm trying to say, rather unsuccessfully, is that I thought I'd only be using my stomach muscles to sit up and stand and walk but my chest muscles are connected to those actions as well, which means they're getting pulled even though I'm trying to just use my stomach. So I'm going to try not to move around at all if I can help it, for the next few days.
Another bit of advice is for anyone with an affectionate pet. My dog has been freaking out with a capital F, every time I whimper or moan. He's been echoing me, so that there are two of us going "Aaooowww." I appreciate his sympathy, but he's being sympathetic at the top of his lungs. He's also trying to show his love and concern by tripping me when I walk to the bathroom; after one too close call (can you imagine falling onto fresh sutures on a slate floor?) he is now showing his concern at the end of a leash that's tied to the sofa.
Also, after years and years of terrible, no good, horrible cats who despised us and only stuck around for the food, we seem to have lucked into the sweetest, cuddliest, softest (his fur is softer than rabbit fur) kitty. We've never had a cat who actively sought our company and actively pursed physical affection, so this cat is the most loved and appreciated cat in the world. My daughters and I coo and bill over this little guy like drunken pigeons. All is not well in cat paradise, however, because I now know exactly what it feels like to have a smallish adult cat land on a fresh breast reduction, which is a very specific experience.
His favorite place in the world to rest has been on my previously massive chest, which was smart, no? It was huge, soft, warm, and perfectly situated for convenient scratchies. But for the next few months, he is banned from my chest, and he's not taking the restraining order with good humor. He has been spending a lot of time sneaking up my body or around the sofa to get access to his habitual spot. So we now have a cat on a leash, tied up next to the dog. If you happened to feel the earth shake about five hours ago, don't worry, it wasn't an earthquake. It was the sound of me screaming after the cat landed on my reduction.
I'm wrapping this up for now, my arms and pits are throbbing after typing and I'm due for more pain meds (glorious, glorious pain meds, oh how I love you so...you do good work, dearest pain meds, you're true pros and I'd hire you again any time, no interview necessary)...if my arms didn't hurt so much I'd write a little poem about these heroic opiates, I think I'd call it "Dearest Pain Pills, You Rock and I love you," but my arms are in fact killing me, so the world will be deprived of great art today.

Not a good couple of days....

I've been resting for about a week and a half, almost two weeks, really, and I got a little stir crazy. I made some bread (but used the hook on the mixer to do the kneading, was very cautious about lifting my arms), carefully and slowly did some laundry, showered and brushed out my hair (long, fine hair: takes forever to comb out), and as a result of those piffling little chores...I'm bleeding from my bottom incisions along both breasts. And I feel kind of terrible, generally. Not like the flu, more like I've been hit with a giant wave of exhaustion and feeling bruised all over my torso. My breasts are really hurting, more than they have been since the first post surgical days.
I don't know if it's because my health wasn't poster perfect to start with (fibromyalgia, lupus, Hashimoto's hypothyroid), or if it's because I'm older than most of the B.R. reviewer's (had my 44th birthday two days after surgery), but I'm a little discouraged about my recovery time. I had been feeling pretty good about the state of things. I've been using Manuka Medi-honey and silver cream, both of which seem to have been healing the incisions very well, much better than I'd expected, frankly. But now I'm back on the sofa and upping the pain meds and have the ice packs back in place. Not A Wonderful Day.

Two steps forward, one step backward (still progress though!)

I've been lounging around like a lizard on a hot rock for two and a half weeks, and am finally feeling well enough to enjoy it. Which means it's time to get up. It's just too bad that you can't savor lying around and being catered to when you feel horrible (and by the time you feel well enough to really soak up your fecklessness, well, that's the time to get up and going again). I mean, I had knitting and Arrested Development dvds, and plans to re-watch BSG (maybe not the ending, though, too gloomy), and I had two extraordinarily helpful teens waiting on me hand and foot, but I just felt too terrible to enjoy any of it.

I didn't even really get any solid sleep until the end of the second week, just restless naps that weren't long enough or deep enough. I took pain meds, and vitamins (magnesium for muscle pain, vit B, C and D for healing, plus my thyroid vitamins of fish oil, copper, selenium) but I didn't get truly on top of the pain until a few days ago, around the middle of the third week. I don't know if I'm just a Sensitive Type, or if it's because they took out so much (I went from a 40 H to a small C), but I've been in a lot of pain (not Discomfort, Pain with a Capital P....why do the nurses call it discomfort, why? It's embarrassing for everyone involved). I must say the ice packs that they sent home with me really helped with that aspect of recovery. I've always been a heating pad devotee, but the ice packs have been in constant rotation.

I am finally driving around, doing errands, light housecleaning, etc. My pain is very minimal now, but I just noticed last night that I'm bleeding again from the incisions along the bottom of both breasts. I've been wearing my binder dutifully, and gratefully; it really helps with the pain, and keeping outside forces from accidentally brushing up against me. But I'm tired of having to hand wash it because it's got blood and goo on it. I've been using non-stick gauze patches taped against my nipples, and it's time to stop that, because the surgical tape is bunching and overly irritating. I don't have any sort of allergy to it, it's just very uncomfortable lately. My plan today is to get lots of rolled gauze and wrap it around me after I re-dress my incisions with all my creams, and then keep it in place with the binder. That way I can avoid the tape, and as a bonus, keep my bottom and side incisions covered as well.
I've been using silver cream, antibiotic cream with numbing pain relief agent (benzocaine?), scar gel, and Medi-Honey (Manuka honey that's formulated specifically for dressing wounds, not for eating). The medi-honey is so damn expensive (Amazon is the cheapest place online that I've found so far); the tubes are just really tiny, and it doesn't seem to go very far. I can see how the medi-honey would be more than cover a new or lingering wound of normal size, but I've got a lot of inches to cover, incision wise, and re-dressing every other day after a shower is becoming cost-prohibitive. I must say, I usually heal ugly and purplish and my wounds take forever, and that doesn't seem to be the case here. So it seems that the highly touted healing properties of Manuka honey are not wildly over-rated. I don't mean to damn with faint praise; it really is very helpful. It's a natural antibiotic, and it forms a waterproof kind of seal/barrier once applied, so the wound can heal with optimal moisture and minimal scarring. I'm wrecking that seal by putting all my other goopy creams underneath the honey, I probably should use one at a time. I'm just frustrated that I keep bleeding with mild exertions.

A month past surgery, with complications:

So, good things first: I'm feeling quite quite happy about my size. The last thing I said to the surgeon before I went under was that I was afraid of waking up with my breasts still too big, and begged him to err on the side of going too small, rather than too large. I'm still healing and swollen, but I think I'm about a C cup. Maybe even a C minus, which is great. I really didn't want D cups, even though everyone, and I mean Every. One. pushed me for D or double D's, and they all, family, friends, doctors, etc, said I'd regret going too small. Like I said, I'm still swollen, not healed yet, but I think I'm actually pretty damn happy about my size even at this stage, so hooray for that!

Also, it's early days, but I think I'm mostly happy about the shape and general look of the breast. I've worried about this endlessly while before getting the surgery. It seemed to me that even the biggest, most pendulous breasts in before photos had a more natural, graceful look to them than many 'after' pictures, and I didn't like the look of most of the after pictures from doctors within driving distance in my area (the two doctors in my town seemed to lean toward almost square shaped breasts in the after photos, I kid you not). I worried about nipple placement and breast shape, and it seems like my 'after' breasts are going to be ok regarding both. I will say that I like the look of my breasts with my arm raised, better than with my arms down. I wonder if doctors put your arms down at any point during the surgery to test things out? Or if they keep your arms taped and raised until it's over? I guess if I get another boyfriend I can keep my arms up while naked? ;) I know I should post some pics, because that's the main thing that we all go by on this site, myself included, but as of this update, I just can't do it. I'm private by nature; I'm forcing myself to write this review, because I know how much other reviews helped me during this process, but it's hard for me. The idea of a journal with photos just gives me the whim-whams. Maybe if someone wanted to go to this doctor and really confirm the work, I might email photos, but really, I dunno. I am glad I went to Dr. Hall, even though he has the most dreadful bedside manner, because he is simple to work with, has a nice office staff, and most importantly, he does good work. I didn't even need drains; he says he tries to avoid them mostly, that they can cause infections and scarring and that the body can absorb and work out the extra fluids on it's own.

My nipples seem to have feeling in them (too much, truth be told, still v. painful), and both seem to be doing this caving in to the left side type thing that I'm concerned about. If they stay like this, I'm going to have to wear those things that pull inverted nipples out, like nipple braces :) If they stay like this forever....well...hmmm. Not good, obviously, but considering all that could have gone wrong, not the biggest deal. So at this point of recovery, I don't know for sure if I've maintained my nerve endings, but I suspect I'm not totally numb (which is apparently common when nipples/aureola have to be cut down significantly and grafted), and the incisions around my aureole are healing really well.

Now the bad stuff:
The incisions along the bottom of both breasts are, to be honest, Not Good. There are open wounds under both of them; the left side is about the size of a quarter, the right side is quite big, about three inches. The problem is that the stitches came undone in both wounds, and have since gotten infected. The right side is honestly kind of horrifying. I was showering, and felt strings across an open hole and, honestly, it took all my willpower not to have a nutterbutter then and there. I'm still having to force myself not to react to it; it looks like some kind of demon harp from hell, a curved half circle stretched across with black thread. It's ugly. And painful, and oozing blood and other stuff, and it smells bad (so, yup, infected). I've been washing it out with saline solution and antiseptic wash, and covering it with aloe fresh from the plant, antiseptic ointment, silver cream, and Manuka Medi-honey, but the only thing that the open wounds seem to respond to is the aloe. Even the slightest lifting of my arms seems to reopen them and make them bleed. I've even drawn big X's on my hands with a black sharpie pen to remind myself to keep my arms down and ask my kids to reach for stuff for me. I've got an upcoming apt with the doctor this week, hopefully he can help. God help me if I have to get re-stitched, I hope there's some kind of super tape that can put it together instead.

Two months post op update: love my boobs, hate my doctor:

My pain is a lot better. I have some zingers occasionally, and I am still too tender to even sleep on my side, but for the most part I'm pain free. I worried about this because I'm a slow healer (fibromyalgia and lupus), but I seem to be pretty good in that respect. I know I've had pain longer than other reviewers I've read, and I feel weirdly inadequate about that, so it's nice to have this progress.
My open spots underneath are still not totally healed. The left side has a smallish hole, the right side, the bad side (the reason the strings looked black is because they were coated with dried blood, ick) is still about a half inch open, and it keeps re-opening if I'm reaching too high for something or doing something too vigorous. I went back to the surgeon, and he said, yup, those are trouble spots for a lot of women, there's not a lot of blood flow there, it's a problematic site for many people, but they'll heal if you put neosporin on it and keep it covered with a bandaid. I told him I'd been doing that for more than a month, and that it had been infected until a week before my apt, and that the only thing that had helped was a saltwater/epson salt bath every night. He got mad at me for that, told me that I was keeping the wound open by doing that, and when I told him I'd been keeping the wounds covered and had put everything from neosporin to fresh aloe from the plant to medical manuka honey on it and it was just getting worse (oozing pus and blood and smelling bad and quite painful), he acted like he didn't hear me, and then told me about how he'd never had breast reduction wounds not heal, like I was being dense or impatient. He didn't offer any prescription cream or antibiotics, which, ok, it's not good to over use them, but still....he was so condescending and smug that I wanted to walk out. He went on a bit about his experience in a wound clinic before becoming a plastic surgeon, and how a hundred percent of his patients were healed with ointment and a bandaid. Yay for them, yay for him. If neosporin and a bandaid had helped, or even kept the wounds the same, if not better, I wouldn't have tried everything else, and I wouldn't have asked him what to do. I must say, I'm ever so tired of doctors who think their patients are witless. When I repeated that the only thing that had made a dent in the infection was the nightly salt bath, he ignored me.
I knew from the beginning that he had a terrible bedside manner. He was weird about my daily pain meds beforehand, he kept repeating that he wouldn't refill my post surgery meds, that after the first bottle ran out, I was out of luck. He literally treated me like a junkie and a pain pill seeker ( I suppose getting major surgery is one way of getting pills....you'd think a doctor would realize there must be easier ways of procuring pills). Never mind that I had a solid, documented history of many years with my pain specialist, that I had (and still do) tried just about everything from yoga and epidurals to biofeedback and magnesium (and much more) and that I kept saying I wanted the surgery as a means of helping with my pain He was rude, arrogant, and didn't stop to think that it's possible that someone with chronic pain might actually need pain meds to function. So there's that, and the fact that he blew off all of my pre surgery questions with irritated, one word answers. He made me feel dumb for asking anything, and made me feel like I wasted his time. I decided to go with him in SPITE of his personality and bedside manner, not because of it, because his 'after' pics looked better than most of the others I'd seen in my state, and his reviews and credentials were good.
I'm thrilled about my size ( I think I'm a large C; I wanted a small C, but I'm just so relieved that I'm not a D that it doesn't matter ), and mostly happy with the shape and nipple placement. I'm not happy that my left nipple is visibly bigger than my right, and the left nipple sticks out weirdly in a way the right doesn't. I'm not happy that both nipples are pointing up and slightly out (right side pointing right, left side pointing left). From what I've read from doctors questions on this site, if they're still doing this in another month, that's what they'll do from now on forever. I was really worried about my nipples being too low down on the breast, or pointing down, so I'd rather have this than that, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little concerned. I'm kind of numb everywhere, still, so I don't know if that's my new reality as well, or what.
On the Definitely Good side of things, my neck and shoulder feel incredible. I haven't had such a lack of pain in those areas since, well, since I can't remember. My lower back pain is better, as well. Not gone, unfortunately, but one hell of a lot better. I'm hoping that walking will help in that regard, now that the weather is nice. I've been like a hibernating squirrel in a tree all winter, hiding from the cold and snow. I'm looking forward to being able to do yoga without my boobs slapping me in the face, and being able to do positions that I couldn't do before, because of a painful neck and back.


I've had to be taped up until recently, even though I'm exactly three months post op, because of lingering infections and bleeding. My breasts have been hard and pointy (quite normal, according to reviews), and while I wasn't thrilled with the pointy shape, but I was happy with the size, because I thought I had small C cups (I requested a small C/large B). I begged the doctor to veer smaller, even as I went under on the table; I pleaded for him to give me small breasts.

Now they've softened and dropped down really quickly and it seems my breasts are large D cups, maybe even DD. Additionally, they've gone boxy, also really fast. They look decent when my arms are raised, but they are square-ish when my hands are down. I went out of my way to avoid the only two surgeons in my little town, because all of their 'after' photos looked really boxy. I went out of my way to stick with Dr. Hall, even though his personality was so off putting during the first appointment, because his 'after' photos looked good. And, I went out of my way to discuss the boxy issue with him, because it worried me so much. I also questioned him about the effect of operating on breasts while the arms are raised. I wanted confirmation that it didn't affect the end result, and he blew me off by saying it didn't matter. If my breasts are much prettier with my arms up, it seems like it does in fact matter. The third issue is my nipples. They both point toward my armpits, both are sunken in, and my left nipple is larger than my right one. If YOU were trimming a pair of nipples, wouldn't you take a few extra minutes to make sure they were even? Of course you would. You're not a surgeon, so you probably don't rush through life as if every moment was a billable second. I've looked up doctors responses to other patients on this site, who have the same kind of nipple issues, and it seems that they are a result of a surgeon not using the right technique with a big reduction (standard inferior pedicle technique) (here is a link to a new, improved technique that seems to be much, much better than before: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663319/how-one-surgeon-is-reinventing-the-female-breast-sfw).

I was under the impression that reductions covered by insurance received equal care and expertise as full, paying out of pocket patients. I don't actually know that my doctor half assed my surgery, or if he just isn't as talented as he thinks he his, and the photos on his website are the exceptions, not the rule. I don't know if my doctor thought I was too plus sized to go smaller. I don't know much at all, because he is flat out terrible at communicating and brushes questions and concerns aside as if they irritate him. He was so patronizing and made me feel like a moron for taking salt baths to heal my infections, when that was the only thing that really helped me heal, more than anything ( and I do mean ANYTHING; I tried every damn thing ), and he made me feel like I was wasting his time when I tried to bring up any concerns. I guess that's why I feel like he might have rushed my surgery; because he made me feel like he didn't have time for me before hand. I know doctors do thousands of surgeries, but it's an utterly unusual and vulnerable situation for patients. It's a big damn deal.

I was so happy with my post surgery size, when I felt so wonderfully flat compared to before (G cup...ANYTHING would have been flatter), but now that I've adapted a bit, I'm not nearly as copacetic. I wanted so much to be able to wear pretty bras that didn't have to do anything but look delicate and gorgeous. I wanted to go bra-less if I wanted to. That's not going to happen now. I look so much better with clothes on, but I still look like I've got a big chest.

This was covered by insurance, I couldn't have afforded it otherwise, and I've had a less than smooth road healing up, so I don't see how I can go smaller. I've been focused almost entirely on healing, and feeling relieved that I finally did the surgery after waiting so long, but now that I'm past that and focused on my end result, I'm so disappointed. I feel like crying.


So this happened:
My neighbor asked me when I was going to have my reduction.

The nurse at my kid's dermatologist asked me when I was going to have my reduction.

My mom drove in to visit from out of state and said "I don't want to cause any feelings here, but I expected you to look a lot flatter after surgery."

Last week was bad. This week? Fu#k me.

I researched this for YEARS. I longed for this for DECADES.

I did what I was supposed to; why did I end up with crap boobs? Is it because it was paid through insurance? Is it because I'm middle aged? Plus sized? Brunette? I look like his ex-wife? WHAAAAAT? This was SO IMPORTANT to me. How did it go so wrong?

One year update.

This has been quite the emotional and physical journey.
Breast reduction is something I've wanted for more than twenty five years, something I'd been working toward, researching and waiting for the perfect time and situation. So it's not like I didn't have time to do this right. But apparently I learn everything by doing it the wrong way first. You know that Sinatra song, My Way? Well, my way is the wrong way, at least five times, before I figure stuff out. It's like I have to learn all the wrong ways of doing stuff before I learn my right way, whether it's relationships, school, parenting, life skills, you name it. I try to research and study to prevent the worst of my tendencies, and the older I am the better I am at being, well, myself. I thought I'd prepared enough for my reduction, and in some ways I was on point and totally prepared. But there are a few things I did wrong. I wasn't going to do this update, but writing helps me vent and re-orient and come to terms, so I'm gonna do it, even if no one ever makes it down this far to the bottom of my review and reads this. I don't have money to fix my FUBAR breasts, and I can. not. tell. you. how unhappy I am, so here's hoping writing about it helps. Fingers crossed.

No one understands what it's like to need a breast reduction for years, except for us. It's a particular kind of hellish existence, but to outsiders it doesn't seem that bad, or indeed bad at all. And no one else but us understands the extraordinary relief of a reduction and getting to know and love a new body, a body that doesn't cause physical and emotional pain. I don't have to explain the before and after because this is the rare surgery with an extraordinarily high happiness approval. People are as happy after reduction as they were unhappy before, and that's pretty damn happy. The physical and emotional relief are intense. I don't want anyone to screw up the way I did, to be in the situation in which I currently find myself.

My pain is almost totally gone. The stabbing in my neck, the electric pain in my shoulders and arms, the throbbing in my back...gone. I didn't think the pain relief would be this effective and widespread. So that's a giant plus in the pro-surgery column. I look better in clothes, it's easier to walk and to yoga, it's easier to sleep, even. In all the important ways, this surgery was a brilliant success.

However. My tits are hideous. How bad can they be, you ask? I'll tell you. They were one hell of a lot prettier when they were saggy, distorted G cups. They are shaped badly, so badly I have a difficult time shopping for bras. It was hard bra shopping before, and it's still hard. My nipples are bizarre, and I have massive scarring that is ugly and causes pain even a year later.

All of this could have been prevented by going to a better surgeon. Apparently my doctor was a wound specialist before he qualified in plastic surgery, so you'd think he would be twice as good as anyone else. He isn't. And he's a giant arse, to boot. If you're going to act like Dr. House, you better be as good as House. If you're not, you're just a dick. There are surgeries where bedside manner doesn't matter, or indicate expertise. This isn't one of them. Breast reduction is emotional. If your doctor doesn't get that, he or she has no business operating on you. If they are impatient or bored by your concerns or questions, keep looking. Even if you have to go to a lot of first meetings with surgeons, I'm telling you, it's worth it. The time you take to meet surgeons in their offices, not just looking up their reviews, is an investment in your future happiness. There are a lot of plastic surgeons, so don't put up with a bad personality, or even an iffy one.

I'm going to go into the specifics of my bad surgeon in my next update.
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon

I absolutely would not recommend him. I'm incredibly unhappy with my breast reduction. He has a terrible bedside manner, he's impatient with questions, and he's always in a hurry, and he flat out doesn't do very good work. His manner and personality would be unacceptable if he was a surgical genius, but he is barely adequate with implants and facial injections and flat out bad with more technical work like reductions and tummy tucks.

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