Hello, ladies! Like a lot of you, I've spent over...
Hello, ladies! Like a lot of you, I've spent over a year lurking on this website, trying to get a feel for what a breast reduction surgery would actually entail. Well, I have a wedding coming up this year and I figured now was as good as any time to move breast reduction surgery from the back burner to the kitchen table ;] . My first consultation is tomorrow morning, and I'm finding myself terribly anxious. On the one hand, I am so excited to finally get some answers. Is this surgery feasible for me? What are the chances of insurance covering this? How about breast feeding? Time of recovery? etc.
On the other (more dominant) hand, I am absolutely terrified. I'm starting to spiral a bit, not going to lie. I am very concerned about my body image post-op. Though I'm a little heavy for my size (5'8" and 168 lbs) and my breasts are drastically larger than what's considered "normal" (32II), I've always felt like my body was fairly proportional. And in fact, during college I always thought that my larger breasts made the rest of my body look thinner. I know I probably shouldn't have, but I justified my breasts to myself by saying that they "rounded me out" or drew attention away from my midsection--hey, if they're looking at your boobs, they're not looking at your tummy, right?
Well, that worked for a while...until I started losing weight. 35 lbs later, and I'm starting to realize that my breasts will forever keep me at a size 14/16, no matter how much weight I lose in the rest of my body. So I know in my head that a breast reduction surgery will benefit me, make me look more like my actual size and weight (in addition to reducing my back pain and getting these TRENCHES out of my shoulders and bruises off my ribcage). But as much as my brain tries to keep me logical...I'm scared. I've always had great self esteem. I don't hate my body. I don't hate my breasts. And I guess I'm worried that if I go through with this surgery, that I'm somehow cheating my body. Like I'm turning my back on who I've been for the past 22 years or rejecting the body that God and nature gave me. Has anyone else felt this way?
I suppose this is all stuff I'll have to talk to my surgeon about tomorrow morning. I'm hoping that this first consultation will ease a lot of my concerns.
Will update tomorrow, and hopefully load some pictures up.
Pre-op Update (+ pictures!)
Um, wow. This update is looong overdue. I was so happy with my consultation, that I mostly stopped thinking about the surgery and this site. But my surgery is tomorrow, so I figure if better get at least one pre-op update up!
My consultation with Dr. Armstrong went very well. I was really nervous to go in, but she was so easy-going that everything went much smoother than I predicted. She really seemed to understand my concerns that I would be too small or disproportionate after the surgery, but encouraged me that going down to a 32/34D would be just lovely on my body. And I have a lot of confidence in her, not just because she's an accomplished surgeon, but because she herself had had this surgery! Hearing that made me feel a million times better.
Not going to lie though, as great as that consultation was, I still worry. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think "good Lord, I cannot WAIT to be rid of this hassle," but then other times I think "why should I change this? I'm me." Thankfully, the former thought is far more predominant. That makes it easier going into the surgery. And it does seem like every day I discover some wonderful new reason to have the breast reduction! Fitting into my wedding dress definitely tops the list, followed closely by buying cute bras and (gasp!) maybe even two-piece swimsuits!
I still panic though. Just an hour ago I was ready to call the whole thing off. I've called down now, but I'll be happy to get back to some sense of normalcy. Schizophrenia wreaks havoc on my nerves; it'll be nice to have something concrete again.
I'll update again soon. (I promise this time!) Either before or shortly after the surgery, you can expect to hear from me!
First Day Post Operation
Well, ladies, this is my first day with breasts that fit me! My operation went really well. I woke up in the morning, took a shower as per instructions, and was in prep by 8:30am. I was able to meet with Dr. Armstrong again, as well as the anesthesiologist and several nurses who would be working on my surgery, which was really nice. I loved getting to meet them all; it made the process less terrifying. But this was the best part of all--Dr. Armstrong said I wouldn't need any drains! Hurrah!
Waking up from the anesthesia was really disorienting. The nurse later said I had asked her repeatedly what time it was, for about an hour. It was really strange waking up, because I felt like I'd been in some dreamland yet the real world seemed more confusing. The pain wasn't as bad as I'd imagined it to be, but it was definitely there. I remember feeling this constant, dull pain and looking down at its source, and in my drugged up mind thinking "oh wow. I still have boobs. Yay." I started feeling better when my mom and fiance came to see me, but everything was still pretty foggy. My fiance did his best to feed me graham crackers, but I only managed to down one because they were AWFUL and dry and I wasn't producing enough saliva to break them down.
After I got dressed and stood up to get in my wheelchair, I started feeling really nauseous. My IV had already been taken out, so they put ice packs on my neck and gave me an anti-nausea shot in the thigh. After I was feeling better, they wheeled me to the car. I really don't remember coming home at all because I was so tired from the medication, I just kept my eyes shut.
As soon as I got home I went straight to the recliner and fell asleep. This was around 2:30. I was kind of in and out for a long time, until I finally woke up around 6:00. My fiance made me some vegetarian chicken noodle soup, I took more pills, and I went through at least two packages of graham crackers. Graham crackers are my best friend. :)
I didn't want to try going up the stairs or sleeping in my bed, so I slept on the recliner, which was really comfortable. The worst pain I've felt so far is when I unconsciously lifted my arms over my head while I was sleeping. That hurt.
But honestly, I think the worst thing is the dry and sore throat. They said the breathing tube might make me sore, but I didn't think it would be this bad. I just make sure to drink a lot of water to keep it lubricated.
As for the pain, it's really not that bad. I mostly just feel this soreness, almost like I've been exhausted from a long workout. I do have some pain on my sides, though, under my surgical bra...does anyone know why that is?
Made my first attempt at a shower today! It was pretty rough going, even with my mom there to help me. Taking the bra and dressings off was a little painful, as the seepage wanted to stick to my stitches.
Oh, seeing my breasts for the first time was strange. I expected them to be smaller, but actually seeing them on my body was weird. It was like someone had transplanted someone else's boobs into my body! What I found comforting (oddly enough) were my stretch marks, which were still there; that proved these breasts are still mine!
The stitches and incisions weren't as gruesome as I'd been imagining, though I didn't realize how badly I would bruise. All the skin under the lower incision is covered with dark purple bruises. Those will heal with time.
Over all, though, I feel much better today. I was a little more active walking around the house. I'm still sleeping on the recliner, but that's ok because I'm VERY comfortable there. My soon to be in-laws sent me flowers, which are lovely, and I'm taking the extra free time to catch up on books and tv shows! Not a bad gig!
Things are going pretty well! I'm almost completely off the pain medication, and getting a little more active! I'm careful not to overdo it, but I've been helping to make meals and doing some stretching and gentle yoga poses to counteract the fact that I spend most of my day on the recliner. I've had two showers, and the second was a million times easier than the first. I still have a little bit of fluid drainage, but I don't think that will be for much longer.
Oh, but they ITCH!! My stitches itch so horribly!! Sometimes I just want to rip the stitches out! I'm one of those people who picks at their scabs and can't not scratch mosquito bites. This will be the death of me, I swear.
On another note, I've noticed that I get really light headed when I take off or put on my surgical bra. I thought maybe it has something to do with the sudden change in pressure against my chest, but I'm not sure. Any ideas?
2 Weeks Post-Op!
Oh my goodness, I cannot BELIEVE it's only been two weeks since my BR!! It really feels like it's been ages.
But things are going so well. I go in to see my PS in two days, so fingers crossed everything goes well. I just can't believe how fast the healing seems to be going. I moved back into my bed last week, and I'm already sleeping quasi on my side! Showering is a breeze, and I've been able to go on long walks with the dog these past few warm days. I'm not draining at all anymore, and the bruising is going down.
The one thing that keeps reminding me I had the surgery (other than the mirror!) is the sensitivity of my breasts. It's kind of hard to describe... It's almost like when you have a rash and even tiny brushes across the skin will give you a tingling or slight burning sensation. It's not painful, just annoying mostly. I find that I'm particularly sensitive on the skin above the nipples, on my upper chest.
My nipples are also extremely sensitive! But I never had much feeling there before the surgery, so I'm not sure if this is a normal amount of sensitivity that I just need to get used to, or if this is a part of the healing process. I suppose only time will tell.
And I finally have some pictures! This one is from day 2 post-op. I'll post the more recent ones next.
Pictures After 2 Weeks Healing
These are actually from a few days ago, but not much has changed since.
I wanted to show you guys some close ups of what's going on during the healing process. The sites of the stitches are still really dark, and it think part of the reason is because there's dried blood stuck on. I'm really hesitant to wash the blood off in the shower, since it's pretty concentrated about the nipples and I'm very sensitive there.
You'll also see some bruising on my upper right breast and on my left side. The former is highlighter-yellow, and the latter is a really dark purple. It looks more vivid in person. Also note that the stitches on my left breast seem to be "puckering" as if it is too tightly stitched. I think maybe this is due to swelling.
Side-by-side pre-op/2 weeks
I may have a move affair with photo editing ;)
Look at the difference before and after surgery!! Although I had a bit of an identity crisis immediately following the surgery, every day I am more and more happy that I did it!
And look at the results!! Seeing the pictures side by side...wow. I'm so happy I did this. Even though smaller boobs have exposed my other problem areas (egads! Look at that tummy!), now my breasts fit by BODY. Maybe not my size at the moment, but they fit my shoulders and the length of my torso and my tiny wrists ;) And now I can work on the rest of those problem areas to match my breasts. Can't wait to work out again!
Follow Up Appointment
Hello again, lovely ladies! I had my first follow up appointment with Dr. Armstrong yesterday, and everything went really well. I wasn't sure quite what to expect, since my mom made the appointment while I was conked out at the hospital, and even she wasn't exactly sure what a "follow up" appointment entailed. So I was a bit shocked when Dr. Armstrong walked in, laid me down, and pulled out a giant pair of tweezers! I felt a little unprepared to have my stitches out so soon, but hind sight being 20/20, it was better that I not have time to agonize over whether or not the stitches would hurt coming out.
In reality, the stitches weren't so bad coming out. It hurt a little, but just for a second. We talked a bit about how I was healing (which is apparently very well!) and how soon I could start doing things like working out, going backpacking, have a dress fitting for my wedding dress, etc. I'm allowed to exercise some now, as long as I keep away from chest exercises and anything that would make me bounce (hurrah, I can get out of burpees!). I'm all clear to go backpacking in Sedona in a few weeks, and will have another follow up just before we leave. I'm also cleared to go have dress fitting as soon as I feel able! I'm going to wait a little bit longer, until I have a full range of motion with my arms, but then we'll be off to the seamstress!
I did another exciting thing today, with my doctor's consent... I went bra shopping! I was told I could wear any bra that didn't have an underwire, which is surprisingly difficult to find. I didn't want to spend any serious money on a bra yet, since I may still be swelling, so I went to Walmart to see what I could find.
Let me tell you, Walmart bras are SLIM PICKINGS. Once I finally found bras without underwires, I had the damndest time finding my size--even being so much smaller! I guess I'm still pretty large for my torso. All of the D cups at Walmart start at a 36 or 38. And I ideally need a 32, maybe a 34. I ended up buying a sports-type bra with a cup but no underwire. Actually, I got two since they were on clearance for $3 ;) It fits pretty darn well, and will certainly hold me over until I can buy something a little nicer.
Can't wait to buy some pretty bras!!
Things are getting easier and easier! I'm even able to sleep on my stomach again! Strangely enough, it's my sides that are the most sore. I can't sleep on my side for very long.
I'll have to post more pictures soon, because my breasts look a lot better than they did the last time I posted pics. I've still got some nasty bruises, but my stitches are so much less noticeable now! I always thought they looked really dark, and my PS told me that was because there was dried blood trapped under the glue. So when I got my stitches out last week, Dr. Armstrong told me to work on getting the glue off. I spent a lot of time in front of the bathroom mirror, peeling it off. But it was extremely gratifying! It felt very ritualistic, like I was shedding one skin to gain another. And I have to say, I think the scar tissue underneath the glue looks really good. I'm excited to see how they heal.