Ready for my New Beginning - North Carolina

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I have always had a large chest that has made me...

I have always had a large chest that has made me uncomfortable physically and emotionally. The first time I felt ashamed of my breasts was in the third grade. Some of my peers were starting to wear "training bras," not because they needed them, but because they were in Limited Too and everyone wanted them. Unlike my peers, I actually needed a bra. As soon as I sheepishly wore my bra beneath a white shirt, my secret was out. Incidents like this continued to pop throughout the years. As a 12 year old in the seventh grade I was filling out a 36C bra, garnering stares from my suddenly pubescent male classmates. Maneuvering through school with my large breasts was only the beginning of my struggle. During these pivotal times where I should have been embracing these changes in my body (or at least not feeling SO ashamed), I was heavily involved in competitive figure skating. I was not a large girl by any means, but my breasts gave that sort of appearance. I felt self-conscious about how my body looked in a tight dress as I jumped and spun about on the ice because very few skating dresses could accommodate a bra.

I first began to seriously consider breast reduction surgery when I was 19 and a sophomore in college. Around this time, my bras began leave indentions in my shoulder, and the skin under my breasts would become raw and painful. When I visited my plastic surgeon (the same one who is doing my procedure in a few weeks), she felt that I would make a great candidate. My mother and I tried to go through insurance to cover the procedure, but my company would not allow it. If I had to guess, I would say it is based upon my BMI- technically, I am overweight in spite of my body fat percentage being in a normal range. I've always been pretty muscular. My parents offered to pay out of pocket for it at the time, but I was scared of the scarring and simultaneously going through a difficult break up. I decided that I wasn't ready at the time.

I'm 22 years old now and the last six months have really opened my eyes to how much my breasts are holding me back. My neck and shoulders are always in pain and I get severe headaches. To make matters worse, I feel like a porn star every time I put on a bathing suit or a shirt with even the slightest v-neck. Buying clothing has become particularly problematic; in dresses I have to buy a size 12 or 14 just to accommodate my breasts. The rest of me ends up looking like I've just been swimming in a potato sack. Buying a dress in a ten looks good for the most part, but my breasts press so tight up against my body that my back just hurts. It's all just exacerbated from my dressing rather conservatively.

Recently, my mother generously offered to take me back to the same plastic surgeon I had seen a few years before and we have booked the surgery for June 19, 2012. We are not going through insurance which is quite a ding to the wallet, but after much discussion we have decided it is for the best. Often times when you go through insurance, they mandate how much breast tissue to remove, usually around 500g. My doctor believes that she can put me into a C cup by removing 300-400 grams and lifting my breasts. I had originally wanted to be a B-cup, but she said with my height a C would look much more natural on my body (I'm about 5'5).

I'm really excited about my surgery in 9 days, but also pretty scared. I don't exactly know what is making me so nervous- I've been under anesthesia before and I am in very good health. I think all surgeries are unsettling and it would probably be more weird if I wasn't nervous. Of course, I'm very excited that by the end of the summer I will look significantly smaller and taller. I'm from NC so we have beach weather until October, so I 'm very certain that I will be able to lie on the beach in my new bikini body by the season's end.

I look forward to hearing what others say about the procedure and would love to hear tips for before or after!

I'm trying to figure out what it is I need to do...

I'm trying to figure out what it is I need to do before I have surgery in a week. For the last few days I've been making plans with friends and telling them about my surgery. They have all been extremely kind to me and told me how proud they were of me for booking this. They know I've been thinking about it for a few years. They all said they'd come and visit with me when I was ready, hopefully with Jane Austen movies in tow. If my boyfriend has been present during this discussion, people usually ask him if he's upset I'm doing the surgery. He exhibits saint-like patience and just says, "She's going to be so much happier after. That's all I want."

My surgery is on Tuesday morning and I have to be at the surgical center at 7:15 or 7:30. They'll knock me out at 8 and I should be home by 12 or 1. I've never had a surgery this major before. I try to remind myself of a friend who has cystic fibrosis and who has survived multiple lung transplants. Comparatively, this is nothing. It can just be hard at times to have perspective on what's going on. My pre-op appointment is tomorrow morning. Mom and Dad are both coming along (although Dad will leave the room and give me privacy when necessary). I'm making a list of questions for my doctor:

(1) I remember you saying you don't use drains. How will that affect my healing?
(2) Will I be given an antibiotic? Which one?
(3) Can you prescribe Zofran for nausea?
(4) What clothes should I bring for when I leave the surgical center? What shoes would be best?
(5) How do I go about cleaning my dressings? When do I do it?
(6) When do I come back to the office for you to check how I'm healing?
(7) What sort of things do you recommend I have on hand?
(8) What will you be giving me for pain after the procedure (I'm allergic to opiates so this is a biggie)? Can I take tylenol or advil if I prefer?
(9) When can I shower?
(10) When can I begin to talk walks?
(11) Will I look and feel different when I wake up?
(12) When can I drive?

I'm trying to make a list of things I should purchase when I go to target. I figure a few more pairs of lounge pants couldn't hurt, and perhaps some loose fitting button up shirts. I might grab a puzzle or two, some magazines, books, and movies (although I still have quite a bit of Grey's Anatomy left on netflix). Does anyone have any suggestions for what else I could do?

After surgery I will be staying with my parents until I'm able to function on my own. How long does it usually take for someone to be able to cook, clean, and do pet maintenance (I have a bird who is quite needy)? I figure it won't be MORE than four weeks. My surgeon told me that most of the time, people can gradually start going back to normal about a month after surgery. It's really important to me that I can because I start graduate school in the fall and need to be able to lug around a very heavy backpack.

Thank you all for the comments and the support :)

My pre-op meeting went really well. I feel so...

My pre-op meeting went really well. I feel so lucky to have such a fantastic surgeon only 20 minutes from home. She sat with my parents and I for an hour discussing what to expect, possible complications, advice, and the rules of engagement. My dad had not met her previously but was very impressed by how thorough she was. I signed a few forms at that meeting and will sign the remainder the morning of the procedure. My dad was really adorable and asked the surgeon how long it would be before we could run and swim together.

I got some interesting answers on some of my questions that I thought I would share with everyone. I think it's cool to compare/contrast what sorts of instructions different doctors give. For example:
* How long until I sleep on my stomach again? She said if it wasn't horrendously uncomfortable I could as soon as I felt able. She also told me that I could sleep on my side, although the side I slept on would be more swollen as a result.
* How long will I be in a surgical bra? She told me to leave on the surgical bra for two weeks. After that mark I may begin to rotate between a sports bra and the surgical one. At six weeks I can go new bra shopping!
* Like many of you on here, she suggested with the painkillers that I keep some miralax or something similar on hand. I figured I would go out and buy those metamucil cookies because feeding myself/preventing constipation is like killing two birds with one stone.
* She told me it was crucial that every few hours I walk around to prevent a bloodclot from forming.
* I was also told that a few days later I could take walks and go on the elliptical lightly without using the arm things. I think she gathers I'll go mental if I have to be 100% still. As of right now my weight is about 5 pounds up from where I'd like it, so getting to even work my legs is important to me.
* Finally, I could start working on moving my arms when I felt comfortable enough to.

Overall the office visit was a very positive experience. She had to do my pre-op pictures as a baseline for when I come in for post-operative visits. She made me laugh by saying "these are the pictures your mother always told you not to take!" It put me right at ease because I am so shy about my body. I asked her about liposuction on my sides. She said I didn't really seem like I need it, but doing a tiny bit will make me look trimmer overall. It is included in the price of the procedure, so of course I took her up on it. Life is too short to be self-conscious. At the end we went over the pictures from her previous breast reduction patients and I picked out the size breasts that we both agreed would look proportional on me. I think it's a smaller C. I added that if in doubt, I'd rather her go smaller than bigger.

One thing I didn't think of when considering this procedure was how it will change my taste in clothing. For so long, I've been trying to find things that hide my chest. I almost can't picture myself in normal clothing, bathing suits, or bras. The thought of a strapless dress or top seems as foreign as hell freezing over. I keep asking my friends, "so you really CAN wear a standard size shirt with a C?"or "You mean to tell me I can wear a string bikini if I wanted to?" I've been so limited because my age has never matched my chest size. When I was 9-11 I could have worn halters and stringy bikinis, but it wouldn't have been age appropriate. Now I'm simply too big to wear those things. It's weird to think about. It really hit home when I was doing laundry and folding up my bras. I realized, no more 36DD. Sorry about that brief tangent but it seemed sort of relevant.

I ordered a nice top online to wear while I'm recovering. It's loose-fitting. I also ordered a really cute pair of shoes. At this point I don't know how I will bend over to put them on, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I still need to go and find a zip up sweatshirt (or two) and some button up shirts to wear. I have several, but they aren't really comfortable enough for me to lounge around in (although with enough painkillers in my system that probably won't be important).

So I'm finally uploading a few pictures of me in a bathingsuit. The bathingsuit definitely hides the sagging in the front, although it's significantly more cleavage than I'd ever like to have again. The side view is the one that troubles me more because i have to tie the top so tightly to hold them up that my neck shows signs of it for days and they just look very out of proportion. Please ignore the cellulite on my rear end.

It's only 3:00 and I have already gotten so much...

It's only 3:00 and I have already gotten so much done today!

I woke up and went to target getting plenty of necessities for after surgery. I picked up a few movies ("Jane Eyre" and "Sense and Sensibility"), a few button up shirts, leggings, a few sports bras for when I can make that transition (although I had to guess on size), miralax in tiny packets, a zip-up jacket for the day of surgery, gauze, and some loose-fitting tee shirts for when I can put my arms above my head. While I was there I knocked out some father's day shopping and got my dad some cool stuff. I love feeling productive. I think all I need to do know are procure some frozen peas and I'll be good to go!

I went to the gym and did what was probably my last run with my chest this size. It was kind of surreal to think about. I was going through my morning routine and looked at myself in the mirror before I got dressed and briefly wondered if I needed the surgery (don't ask, I don't know what came over me even hesitating). As soon as I had to muscle my way into a sports bra I remembered, "oh yeah, this is why." When I was at the gym my decision was reinforced further when my back began to hurt and the bra was constricting my breathing. I'm so glad I've made this decision and I don't even know what the results will be like!

I went and picked up all of my pain meds, antibiotics, and anti-nausea stuff from the pharmacy. 4 more days with this body. My doctor said about 300-400 grams on each side. I recently had to purchase a gram scale to track my pet bird's weight. Out of curiosity I tried to put things on it that would put it around 300, 350, and 400 grams and then 650 and 700 grams. It gave me a really interesting perspective on how drastic of a change this will be. I think at a minimum it will take a pound and a half off of my body and perhaps one more with the liposuction. It sounds like so little but will make such a huge difference.

I hope that everyone is healing well and enjoying father's day weekend. Thank you for the kind words in the last few days.

It's about 1:00 AM. I am officially having breast...

It's about 1:00 AM. I am officially having breast reduction surgery tomorrow. Kind of unreal since I've been thinking about it for such a long time. I don't know if I'm nervous, excited, or just in disbelief.

Tomorrow I am going to pack up my stuff and head to my parents house until I can take care of myself. My mom wants to take me grocery shopping tomorrow to pick out some of my favorite snacks and foods. I'm glad she's taking me because I'm a vegetarian and my family often forgets. I do wonder though if vegetarians heal more slowly than carnivores. I'm assuming if one has a balanced diet it shouldn't really matter.

Today (well I guess technically yesterday) was father's day. I got to spend some time with my dad which was really nice. My mom had said to me that I looked proportional a little bit before we went out, almost as if she were questioning my decision. I felt sort of trivialized and told him while we were in the car how I felt. I really have the best daddy- he sort of shyly said "I know you're a DD. I know how much you go out of your way to hide it. You need the surgery and I am happy to get it for you." It almost makes me cry because I really did need someone to tell me that I was doing the right thing. I feel like all too often I hear, "you don't LOOK like a DD." It's almost like sometimes you need to be brave to be self-conscious!

After my surgery I have instructed my mom and dad to wake me up every 2-3 hours and make me sit on the exercise bike and pedal slowly for 5 minutes or so to keep the blood flowing to my legs. When I was asking my surgeon if I REALLY needed to take the pain meds (I'm a purist), she said that I really did need to just so I could move around enough to prevent a blood clot. As much as I hate the way that stuff makes me feel, I suppose the ends justify the means. My boyfriend is going to come and see me that night which will be nice.

I hope that everyone is healing and prepping well. I'm sure I will update again later in a pre-surgical freak out. If for some reason I don't, I'll update Tuesday night or Wednesday morning with an update!

Bundle of nerves? Me? Noooooo. Where would you...

Bundle of nerves? Me? Noooooo. Where would you ever get that idea? In 12 hours I will be about halfway done with surgery.

I'm trying to get myself to relax enough so that I can eat and drink something substantial before midnight. I'm not so worried about going without food, but going without water is difficult for me. If I could just know for 100% sure that I would wake up I wouldn't be so on edge.

I sound like a complete drama queen, sorry. I really am excited just in a weird, weird surreal state. I will try and do an update tomorrow evening or Wednesday morning.

Wow! Sorry that update took so long! I have barely...

Wow! Sorry that update took so long! I have barely been awake for the last few days.

On Tuesday morning we got to the surgical center at about 8. The anesthesiologist came and talked to my parents and I and went through the usual routine of questions. I gave both of my parents a hug and they walked me back and had me change into a gown. They let me keep my sweatpants on which was great because I'm always so cold. The doctor took some final pictures of me and marked me up. The last thing is a mask on my face and her holding my hand. I feel like I had a sort of difficult time waking up because they gave me so much medication for nausea, but hey, I didn't throw up so that's good! Mom and dad brought me home and I basically stayed in bed for two and a half days getting up only to go to the bathroom and walk. My boyfriend came over that night and I think we watched Big Bang Theory but I can't really remember.

On Thursday I was allowed to take a shower for the first time. I was getting so grossed out by my hair that I think I was becoming quite vicious. My mother helped me undress (which was awkward for me) and helped me remove my dressings. From what I can discern right now, my breasts look fantastic! They are very swollen and sore (particularly around the bottom of the anchor) but they look so perky and high! My mom said that I look much longer waisted and thinner all over. I think my mom was worried before taking a shower that I hated them because I had to sit down. I kept reassuring her that they were perfect but I guess my clammy-ness made me lose some credibility. I really am happy with them and can't wait to see how they look in a few days.

4 days post-op and I'm doing really well! I...

4 days post-op and I'm doing really well!

I went to see my PS yesterday who said that everything looked really good. She took off the steri strips early because they were really irritating my skin. I've felt much better since she did that. She also said that if I want to wash my surgical bra (I bled a little onto it) I could wear a tight sports bra that compresses me on the front and sides. Mom had actually surprised me before the surgery with a really good sports bra in a 36C. It fits perfectly and hooks in the back so I don't have to yank anything over my head.

Overall I feel pretty good. I still have some pain and itching at the bottom of the anchor towards my armpit and a bit near my nipples (which are embarrassingly sensitive). I washed my hair this morning, blow-dried it, and got my dad to take me to starbucks. I also made my bed, which I'm sure is breaking some sort of rule. I get tired pretty easily right now which I know is normal considering a few days ago I was under anesthesia for a few hours and my body is healing.

Whew. I think I need a nap. Hope everyone is healing and preparing for surgery well :)

So clearly I'm pretty awful when it comes to...

So clearly I'm pretty awful when it comes to updating regularly.

I'm technically 8 days post-op, which is really exciting. I think overall that I am doing well. I have quite a bit of swelling on the front of my breasts and on the sides right under my armpits. It's not excruciating or anything, but rather a dull ache that looks funny. I don't know if I mentioned it but I was prescribed Ultram for pain after surgery because I am allergic to many narcotics. I only ended up needing to take it for about three days. If I took it for a few more days, I'd probably have been a little happier but I really hate feeling loopy like that. My doctor let me switch to advil which helps a bit with my swelling. Swelling has been my only real complaint with this procedure, and I know that it will last for quite a while. I know it could be so much worse- my pain level never exceeded a 5/10 and mostly resided at a 3/10 even on a rougher day. For that I feel lucky, but it's hard not to feel discouraged by how the swelling is making me look almost as big as I was. Realistically, I know that I am not as big as I was a week ago because of my doctor removing about 400g from each side. I also know this from my 36C sports bra and the fact that I bought a beautiful little shirt dress the other day in a medium (because of my chest I'd usually have to get an XL or 14 and have it taken in). I was pretty gleeful in the dressing room! The scarring doesn't look bad at all. I have some bruising on one breast and a little bit under my armpits but its very minimal. When I first took a shower a few days after surgery I was a little freaked out and had to sit down. It wasn't so much the appearance that made me light-headed, but just the idea of what happened. I mean, someone cut and sucked a pound or two out of my body!

Right now I am still staying with my mom and dad, but going to return back to my apartment on Friday. My boyfriend will stay with me over the weekend (my parents are going out of town) and help me get settled, do laundry, cook (ie. put something in the microwave which I suppose I could do), carry groceries, care for my bird, etc. I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again and trying to slowly resume my life. I'm still sort of iffy about my driving a car for a few more days because I don't trust myself to be able to twist around enough to back out of a parking space.

So enough of the little stuff- I just want to say that I am SO happy I got brave and did this. I never imagined that I would be able to buy a button up shirt in a medium and have room to spare or that I'd be able to wear a v-neck without looking/feeling promiscuous. I'm pretty excited to go and buy a new bathing suit in a few weeks, which is a sentiment I never thought I would get to express. I'm not missing the long sweater that I wore most days in an attempt to hide my breasts. It really is life-changing. I'm looking forward to getting an even better sense of the results within the next few weeks when my body settles out more. If someone were ever on the fence about having this done I made a list of things that I would tell them (for fun!):
* The pain of getting your wisdom teeth out is much worse.
* 95% satisfaction rate
* If your friends think that you are an idiot for reducing the breasts they supposedly envy, do not listen to them.
* If you confide in a male friend or a boyfriend and they say something along the lines of "well maybe I'LL get a penis reduction," go forth with the surgery and re-evaluate your friendship.
*Getting dressed in the morning is like Christmas.
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