I forgot to come here and update my surgery date to December 12 and the Real Self site will only allow me to select a surgery date after today, so it says my surgery is tomorrow (12/13) but today was the actual day (12/12). I was thrilled when Nancy, the office administrator and patient counselor, called me in mid-November to let me know that Dr. Chong could fit me in earlier than my original Dec 19 date.
Here's how it went, from beginning to end:
When I arrived for my appointment, Nancy welcomed me very warmly and I only waited a few minutes before I was taken back to the consultation room. One of Dr. Chong's assistants (I can't remember her name right now, but she was super nice and friendly) applied a topical anesthetic under each of my breasts where the local anesthesia injections and incisions would be. She answered some of my questions about what to expect and took photos of my breasts from various angles, then gave me a couple magazines to read while we waited for the topical to sink in.
I was then moved to the surgery room, which had an incredible view of the ocean, by the way. The room was a little on the chilly side, but I was very comfortable after Dr. Chong's other awesome assistant, Julie, placed warm blankets over my legs and stomach and pads over my arms and around my sides. Dr. Chong then draped a sheet over my neck area so I couldn't see the procedure itself. I had watched several videos of the procedure on YouTube, and they were kind of hard to watch for someone who's squeamish about blood and the cutting of flesh, so I totally understand why this was a necessary step.
Dr. Chong then injected each breast with local anesthesia. There was a slight pinch, then a burning sensation for a few seconds, but that was it. That was the most painful part of the procedure, and it wasn't bad at all. Before cutting into me, Dr. Chong tested each breast to see if I could feel any pain, which I couldn't. So she started with the left breast.
After opening up the left breast through a small incision near the inframammary fold, two unexpected things were discovered. The first was that the implants were actually textured, not smooth. The pamphlet my implant surgeon gave me for the implants indicated that they were smooth, so this was a surprise. Dr. Chong usually removes textured implants under general anesthesia, not local, because they attach to the tissue inside and the discomfort of dislodging them can be too much for patients. But since I was already there and the breast was already opened up, we went ahead. I didn't feel any pain with the removal, but it did feel very strange. I'm a ticklish person and it felt like someone was tickling the ribs behind my breasts with kind of a kneading motion. It was an odd feeling and she had to tug and massage it and work it from the inside and outside to get it out, but I wouldn't describe it as painful. Just weird. The valve was stuck a little bit to some of my tissue, but she pulled it off with what seemed like minimal trouble.
The second surprise on my left implant, besides the textured quality, was that my original implant surgeon had put a nylon suture in the tissue at the base of my breast for unknown reasons. I felt some tugging there while she removed the suture, but afterward she was able to slide the whole thing out. I could feel the pressure being removed from under my skin and could feel it flattening. It was another odd sensation, but it kind of felt good. Like a weight was being removed, which I guess it was. Then she sprayed a saline solution into the empty cavity to clean it out and it felt weird in its own way, but not painful at all. So she sewed up the left one and moved to the right.
The right implant came out much easier than the left. The valve wasn't stuck to anything and there was no suture on that side, so there was just the tugging and deep tickling sensation. Not bad at all. While she was sewing up my right breast, I could have sworn that I was breathing easier. Maybe it was in my mind, but I definitely felt that "light" feeling that others have referenced, and I do think that taking that weight off the ribcage makes it at least a little easier to breathe.
After Dr. Chong was done sewing me up and cleaning me off, she sat me up and put a surgical bra on me with foam pads placed directly over the areolas to aid in compression of that area since it had been distended the most by the implants. You can see the pads in the photos I've uploaded. She then wrapped Ace bandage around me to provide additional compression of the tissue. Before she wrapped me up, I saw my new natural breasts, and although they were as deflated as all the other first day surgery pics on this site, I was very happy with them and was glad to not see those big, round, bulbous implants for the first time in 17 years. It was a great feeling.
After I was wrapped up, Dr. Chong answered more of my questions, I got dressed and I was on my way home. The procedure itself took less than an hour. I didn't take valium or pain meds before the surgery since I drove there and was going to drive myself home, and I did fine without them. The discomfort was very minimal, and I attribute that to Dr. Chong's tremendous skill as a surgeon. I could tell from my consultation with her that she was extremely skilled and intelligent, and the "vibe" I got from her gave me total confidence in her abilities. My instincts were right. If you're in Southern California and are considering breast implant removal, you should definitely consider Dr. Lavinia Chong. She's an amazing plastic surgeon who completely puts you at ease, has an incredibly friendly, helpful staff, and the surgery room has an awesome, relaxing view of the ocean to boot. How can you top that? I'm so glad I found her and that she was the one to perform this very important procedure for me. I can't say enough about how great she is. She talked me through the surgery every step of the way and explained everything she was doing while she was doing it, which I appreciated. The experience was better than I could have hoped for and I was extremely happy with the results.
The best part of all is that when I arrived home and looked at myself in a full-length mirror, it was like seeing a friend I hadn't seen in 17 years. It was finally me again. My breast implants never felt like "me." From the time I got them, they always felt artificial and like they were in the way and for the first time in such a long time, I finally look and feel like my former athletic, slim self again. There were times in my life when I wished I had never gotten implants, but in a way I'm glad I did because I probably would have always wondered if I would look better with them or be happier with them. I found out that neither was true, and I know I'll never regret having them removed. I'm a thousand times happier today than the day I got the implants, and I have so much greater appreciation for my small breasts than I ever would have if I had never had them. I truly couldn't be happier.
The photos I've uploaded today are of me post-surgery after I got home with the wraps still on. I want to keep them consistently compressed for the next couple days to ensure the best outcome possible, but will upload photos of my actual breasts when I take the wraps off and take a shower on Sunday.
I want to thank all of you who have shared your stories and posted your own pics. You all helped me to make this decision, and it's the best decision I've made in 17 years. Thank you so much!