32, 5' 7", 36DDD - Breast Reduction - Nashville, TN

I've been embarrassed about my chest size for as...

I've been embarrassed about my chest size for as long as I can remember. All of the women on both sides of my family are very large in the chest area, and I can remember praying when I was in 3rd grade that I would never be that big. My mom caught me mid-prayer, and she informed me that I was pretty much out of luck in that area. In high school, people always commented on my size. I was an athlete (cheerleading & volleyball) and very active in almost any organization I could be. So I was exposed to a lot of people. Guys made comments, and girls spread rumors. (Needless to say, I was glad to be out of high school!) This continued through college. I started competing in the Miss America Organization, and I could never find anything that fit.

I've struggled with back, neck, and shoulder pain for the last 15 years. I can't find bras that fit. I hate shopping. I refuse to wear swimming suits, and the ones I DO own get laughed at by my friends. People tell me, "You'd look so much skinnier, but your boobs are SO big." Nothing fits well, and I've hidden my body as much as I could for the past ten years or so in loose, baggy clothing. I hate how I look in pictures, and I hate how much pain I've been in for so long. I've tried physical therapy, chiropractors, NSAIDs, 2 years of weekly massage therapy, "proper" support... You name it, I've tried it.

I've talked about getting a breast reduction since I was 14. When I started dating my husband, I told him I WAS going to have this procedure at some point. What a sweet man... He says he wants me to do what makes me happy. So, finally, when I realized I would be meeting my out-of-pocket maximum on a sinus surgery in March ($4,000 in 3 months. Ouch.), I decided to talk to my PCP. With her encouragement and a promise of a supportive letter to my insurance company, I started researching everything. The procedure. The recovery. Pictures of others who've had the procedure and their results. (NOTE: I'm pretty conservative, so I really had a rough time with the pictures at first. My husband thinks it's so funny that I constantly have the weirdest pictures pulled up on my MacBook...) I started researching what it would take to get covered by insurance. I spent HOURS on this website (A big thank you to everyone who chooses to share! It makes me feel less alone!). I contacted my insurance company to see what they'd tell me about requirements.

Then, I started putting my own file together. Based on what I'd read here, on the internet, and what I'd gathered from other individuals who'd been covered, I knew I needed to walk into this with any and all forms of documentation and support I could. I reached out to a previous chiropractor to ask him to write a letter. I retrieved my records from my time with Jenny Craig (to document that, even after a 40 lb weight loss, I hadn't lost anything in the chest). My ENT wrote me a letter regarding my mentioning my neck, back, shoulder pain/headaches. My PCP ended up writing a letter. I also took it upon myself to write a 3 page letter, documenting why it was vital and medically necessary for me to have the procedure. (I'm not sure if that's of interest to anyone, but I'd be happy to share if you're looking for ideas for building your own file for insurance purposes.) I put everything together in a binder, and I made several copies of the packet.

I reached out to 7 plastic surgeons that I'd decided met the requirements I was looking for in the middle Tennessee area.

The first I visited is a PS who had done a coworker's procedure. I took one step inside and looked at the stains on the carpet and the decor and knew I just didn't feel comfortable. The PS was a little rough, in my opinion. We met in his office with a nurse present. He asked me what size I wanted to be, then he told me to lift up my shirt. I looked at the nurse, then at him... It was a very awkward first experience. I didn't really know what to expect, but I did not expect his direct "just lift up your shirt" manner. Another nurse took me to a different room, asked me to take my top/bra off, and took pictures on a very old digital camera. It all seemed very rushed, and I left knowing that I would NOT be contacting that office again.

The next PS had done a different coworker's procedure. I walked into her office and immediately was impressed. It was clean, modern, and the staff was friendly and helpful. The nurse came to greet me with a computer in hand. She took my history and asked some questions about what I was wanting and expecting. She gave me a little paper vest and asked me to undress, putting the vest on. I'm not sure why that little paper vest made all the difference in the world to me, but I immediately felt more comfortable with the whole idea of so many people seeing what only my husband sees! The doctor came in, and she was very professional. She told me that I was an excellent candidate for the procedure. And while I probably wouldn't be able to get to my wished-for 36B, but she thought a 36C would be possible. Her nurse took me to another room after taking pictures, and she discussed what would happen when they contacted the insurance and also what my out-of-pocket would be if I were denied by insurance. I gave the nurse the information/documentation I'd collected, and I told her my ultimate decision would be based upon insurance coverage and a PS that would fight for me. Overall, the experience was really great.

The third PS I visited was really great as well. It's located inside the hospital very close to where I live. The receptionist was warm and friendly. She led me back to a small room where I watched a 10 minute-ish video. While the video was incredibly outdated, the receptionist had warned me, so I didn't mind! I then met with another nurse who took my history, asked questions, etc. They were so kind and very calming. This is such a weird and awkward process for most people, and my experience has been no different. They also gave me a paper vest (I'm telling you- it makes all the difference) to wait in while I was waiting for the PS to come in. I was measured, etc., and the PS (once again) said I was an excellent candidate. He told me he was impressed by my research and my preparedness. I felt very comfortable with him, and I honestly didn't expect to because he was male. And, yes, I know how terrible that sounds. The receptionist told me on the way out that the PS is always willing to do peer-to-peer reviews with the doctor from the insurance companies and that they'd had pretty good luck with insurance companies in the past. All three places did inform me that they'd seen a HUGE decrease in coverages for the procedure over the past couple of years, and that most people will get denied at least once or twice before they get approved. The receptionist said that I could always try to lose weight and reapply if that happened. I waited until I got to my car to cry. By my insurance company's standards (amount needing to be removed), I'd need to lose 40 lbs. And, honestly, I don't know that I have 40 lbs to lose.

All three practices told me it would be 4-6 weeks before I'd hear from my insurance company. So, I spent at least five days just terrified that I wasn't going to get approved. And I'd have little flutters of hope where I'd get on Pinterest and look for things I'd be able to wear post-BR. On a whim, I contacted my insurance company via their site's chat feature to ask them if they'd received the materials from the second PS. The agent said that they hadn't, but they HAD received the materials from the third PS, and that my approval letter was going out that day (6 days after I'd visited the 3rd PS). I had to get clarification, "Wait. So I've been approved??" The agent must have thought I couldn't read. "Yes, the approval letter." The next day (yesterday), I requested a copy of the letter be sent to me via email. Once I had it in my hands, I cried. My coworkers who've had the procedure hugged me and cried with me. They understood.

I called the office today to schedule my procedure for May 9th, but I have to put a $150 deposit down to reserve my day. The receptionist said they want to make sure people are "serious." Even though I've hit my out-of-pocket max through insurance, the PS office said I won't get my deposit back until after insurance has paid for my procedure. So that's frustrating. I don't exactly have $150 hanging around, but I'm going to make it happen by Friday.

So, that's where I am. I'm so excited. I wish it were sooner, but I just can't take a week off of work until that date. Too much going on.

One of my good friends asked if I was nervous or if I thought I'd regret it. I didn't even have to think twice. NO. I've wanted this for so, so long.

I didn't want to ever post. I wasn't sure anyone would really find my experience interesting. But, it's helped me so much that I thought that maybe it would help someone out there.

To all of you who have gone through the procedure or are going through it, I need advice.
-What do I need for after my surgery?
-Any tips for scars?
-Anything I should do before surgery?
-Any tips for helping recovery?

I'm so, so excited. Anyone else out there going through this right now?

Surgery officially scheduled!

Well, I scheduled my surgery for May 9th! Three weeks to go. I purchased some things over the weekend and made my own drain pockets too. (Thank goodness for fabric glue!) I'm so excited about this procedure. I'm not sure how I'm going to survive the next few weeks. I just want it to be here already.

My pre-op appointment is scheduled for next Wednesday. Any tips on questions I should ask my PS?

A few before pics...

Not feeling comfortable enough to take pics without clothes, so I've included a few to show how I've tried to mask my size. I was horrified when I got my wedding pictures back and saw what I looked like that day. I cried.

2 1/2 weeks to go!

I feel like time is going by so slowly. I want it to be time for surgery already :). I'm wondering if anyone is feeling a little lost when it comes to clothing AFTER the procedure. Not immediately. Like, dressing your new body type. I keep holding tops and dresses up and thinking, "There is NO WAY this is ever going to fit me." I guess I'm just so used to buying big, baggy tops to hide everything. I've gotten so good at that! Sidenote: Why does everyone feel the need to tell me that I "don't look that big," and that (insert someone they know here) is way bigger? A) It's frustrating that everyone thinks they automatically have the right to comment on your body, and B) of course you don't know how big I actually am because I'm now a magician at hiding it. (Rant over.) I really am feeling so fortunate and grateful that I got approved for this surgery. I am excited beyond belief, and the last thing I want to do is be negative! But, I was hoping someone out there might understand. My pre-op is next Wednesday, and I can't wait! I'm eager to move forward with the process. Sometimes it still doesn't feel real! I've wanted this for so long! Question: How much of your clothing didn't fit/did you give away post-surgery? My husband tells me I'm going to be swimming in the things I have now. So, I'm going to need some mental preparation for getting. Rid of things out of my beloved closet ;)

Trying to figure out what to wear with drains in! Help?

Okay, so I'm two weeks away from my surgery (YAY!), and I'm freaking out slightly about trying to look semi-cute with the strains still in for a week (NOT YAY.). So, I'm wondering what y'all have done to cover those silly drains after your surgery. My PS says I'll have them in for a week. I know. That's a long time in drain-world... My grandma's 80th birthday celebration is the Sunday after my surgery, and I'm going to be seeing A LOT of people from home (we moved here from Illinois around 3 1/2 years ago). So, obviously, I want to try to look halfway decent, but I'm just not sure what I can wear that will be comfortable AND cover those pesky drains. I keep trying to find things on Google, Pinterest, etc., but I've had no luck. I guess no one posts/blogs/talks about this outside of this lovely website! THOUGHTS? :)

Today is the day!

Today is the day! I need to be at the surgery center in about 90 minutes. Naturally, I got a migraine yesterday afternoon... And couldn't take any pain relievers. It's been a bit of a mess overnight. I think I slept for about two hours due to that thing. I fell asleep around 11:30 and woke up around 1:30. Not my favorite thing! My sister flew in on Saturday night to hang with me this week during my first week of recovery. My husband is going to take me to surgery, but he'll have to go back to work after today. I'm thankful she'll be here because I know she'll make sure I'm a little active (per recommendation of my doctor). I'm so glad I'm scheduled for this morning! I had a septoplasty and turbinate reduction procedure in March (I can BREATHE!), and that was scheduled for 1 p.m. I didn't end up going into surgery until around 4 that day. No coffee- yikes! And had a migraine then as well. Apparently, my body just thinks I need to be in pain before surgery ;) I'm really looking forward to this. Isn't that weird?! I'm dreading the drains (I'll have them in for a week), but I'm thankful that my doctor is allowing me to shower after 24 hours! The only really weird part (at least, I feel that it's weird based on what I've read on RS) is that they asked me to bring my own bra in for afterward. I'm taking several (per their recommendation) so that they can choose what will be best, but I was surprised that they weren't providing the first one. Not that big of deal, but it struck me as odd. Yesterday, my husband volunteered to go to the grocery store to pick up some post-surgery week food. We realized that we basically have no idea what I'll be wanting/needing to eat post-surgery, so he didn't end up with much. Anyone have suggestions? I would kill for some coffee right now. I just want Starbucks! :) I'm trying to figure out what to do with the next hour or so of my life. I have everything prepared: bras, the outfit I'm going to wear, clean sheets for later, filled my Rxs (two weeks ago... because I'm lame), hair straightened (listen, it's only 5ish, and I've been up since 1:30), couch set up nicely for post-surgery, etc. I'm not sure what to do with my life now! I realize that this post has pretty much just been me rambling, but I'm the only one awake, and I know you all have been here (or will be) and understand. I'll update post-surgery. See you on the flip side, you lovelies!

2 days since surgery!

I think I've been over-doing it a bit. I am trying to remember to rest, but it's so boring at home! My husband says I look smaller, but I don't see it at all! Are they that swollen? At what point does the swelling subside? Went for my first post-op appointment today, and my PS said everything was looking really good. I'm retaining all sorts of water. I'm seriously TEN POUNDS heavier than I was at this time last week. What the heck?! I feel so gross! Still doing the pain meds every 4 hours because I'm a big baby. I'll sleep an hour or two after taking them, but then I'm up. Same thing at night. Any tips for the swelling?

4 Days Post!

Well, we're currently in the middle of our 5 1/2 hour drive back to Illinois. Not something I would suggest four days post-surgery, but my grandma turned 80. We can't miss her party! My sides are feeling really sore today. I went into work for a couple of hours and took it easy this morning. Then, because my drain output was so low, they took the drains out this morning. WOOHOO!! But I am really sore at the drain sites. Also, my incisions are feeling really sore (and heavy, if that makes any sense at all...) for the first time since surgery. Still on my pain meds, but I don't feel like I've been feeling a lot of the meds this week. Weird. I'm still super swollen. My PS told my husband that he took out a little over 1.2 pounds on each side. The nurses told me that my reduction was actually pretty small in terms of what they normally do. They've said over and over how impressed they are with how quickly I'm healing. I've been really active (out and about, walking around) and resting when needed. But, like everyone else, I've been freaking out because I'm afraid they're going to be too big. Anyone have any advice on swelling and the amount of time it usually take to go down? I know it's super early! A huge thanks to my procedure buddy (you know who you are)! Girl, you've made this process so much better!!! Thanks for checking on me via private message. I LOVE this community. I feel much less alone with y'all! My PS didn't put me in a compression bra after surgery. They told me where to buy a bra and what type to get (Walmart, front-closure, soft, etc.), and I have a few different types that I've been swapping out. I'm just afraid I'm not "compressed" enough. It's the craziest feeling to think that you're falling apart on the inside ;) How is everyone else doing? Anything be have surgery coming up?

10 Days Post!

I am not doing well with keeping up with my updates here! I apologize. I know my journey hasn't been the most exciting, but I need to be more consistent with my updates! I'm actually feeling a lot more pain this week than I experienced last week. Still very swollen along the incisions. I saw my PS for my second post-op, and he was very, very positive. In fact, he and his staff mentioned several times that my healing is coming along so well that they have forgotten it was only a week ago. I'm still in the front-closure bras that were requested by my PS before the surgery. I'm changing the dressings every day (sometimes twice a day). Still some leakage from the vertical incisions. He used skin glue, so parts of that are coming off every day. I've been given the okay to use Neosporin or Vaseline on my incision lines to encourage that glue to come off a little more as well. Even though I have a (mostly) desk-job situation, I'm still finding myself very sore and swollen at the end of the day. I actually went to work for a few hours on my 4th day post-surgery (simple work- meetings, emails, etc.), but I wish I had more PTO to use for this week. I probably could've used another week to recover. Things are very stressful at my job right now, so I feel that the stress might be impeding my recovery. And that's really frustrating. I'm still taking one pain pill during the day and one at night. I'm ready to be done with those. They don't affect me much, other than making me a little sleepy. It's weird how unaffected I am by them, actually. I'm retaining water like CRAZY. I'm still up about EIGHT POUNDS (... :( ...) since before surgery. Pants that were very, very loose are tight. That's so frustrating. I've been informed that will take around 2-3 weeks to dissipate. I'm so ready not to feel like a hippo anymore! I'm doing so well at work, home, etc. that people are definitely forgetting that I just had a "major" (that's what my PS calls it) surgery. My husband got mad at me a few nights ago when I didn't help him carry our luggage from over the weekend into our place from my car. He'd forgotten I could lift anything! He felt so bad afterward. I think he's apologized at least 10 times. Poor guy. At work, it's more of the same. Hopefully, I'll feel better soon enough to actually help with things! I'm so used to being on the go all the time, so this is driving me insane. How's everyone doing out there? Anyone else experience more pain in the second week than the first? Thanks for being patient with me. Life is crazy right now!

Tomorrow will be 3 weeks!

Well, it's been a bit of a rough go! Somehow, I managed to lose a layer or two of skin at the base of my T incisions on both sides. My PS said it was because I was trying to do too much... That's something I've basically heard my entire life, so not incredibly surprising ;). Anyway, the healing process has slowed down a lot because of them. My PS has me putting Neosporin on the wounds every day & night with non-stick gauze to cover. Still in the post-surgery(ish) bras. Ready for the smaller straps because I'm struggling to fit my wardrobe over the big bra straps/high backs/etc. If only it weren't summer! I had a lot of pain the second week. Plus, emotionally, I was struggling. I think a big part of it was all of the pain medication in/leaving my system. I went back to work one week after surgery. I'm not sure that was helpful, but I'm in a sales-type job, so I didn't have much of a choice. I know I'm just being picky, but right now I'm struggling with the size. I've read that they still are probably swollen, etc. (I know, I know... It's only been 3 weeks...), but I wanted opinions/advice from those who have been through this? Did you get smaller after week 3? Also, I'm still up around 10 lbs that magically appeared when I woke up from surgery. Is this normal?! I feel like such cases a complainer. I'm so appreciative that I was able to have this done, but I'm not good at recovering. I'm normally such a little ball of energy!

4 Weeks Today

At the risk of sounding complainy: Did anyone having this procedure come out the other side feeling like they were still too large? I realize it's only been a month, but I truly am worried that I'm not going to go down at all. I think I'm somewhere between a D and DD. :( I'm attaching a couple of pictures to show you all where I had some openings along my incision lines. They've definitely been bothering me, and they're not pretty! But things could be much, much worse- so I feel fortunate! Any thoughts, etc. on when the "true size" will be more final? (Easy my worrying mind, ladies!! :))
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