My story is similar to others on here. I've had...
My story is similar to others on here. I've had large breasts since puberty. At 13 years old I was completely flat...a late bloomer. Then over the summer before freshman year I went from a training bra to a C cup. I was 5'3" and only weighed about 100 lbs. Suddenly boys were interested! I'm an introvert, so the attention made me very uncomfortable and self conscious from the beginning. Over the next few years in high school I went up to a 32DD. I was still very petite and only weighed about 110 when I graduated. I could barely wear a strapless bra/dress to prom and wouldn't dare wear a bathing suit at all to the swim parties. I felt like a freak because I couldn't dress same way other girls my age were dressing. I also had a lot of people tease me by saying things like "your boobs are huge!" or some of the boys called me "Dolly Parton." By college I was up to 120 lbs and had become a 34DDD (stuffed in). I wore baggy shirts and minimizer bras to try and conceal them as much as possible. I NEVER wore swimsuits and would just skip swimming. From about 16 years old I started talking about having a breast reduction, but nursing my future children was very important to me. So I always planned to wait until after I had my kids.
I had 3 children (c-section) and nursed all three. With each pregnancy I gained weight and my breast got bigger and bigger. When I was breastfeeding my breasts got up to a size 38H-I and then in between pregnancies I would be around 170 lbs. and a size 36G. I had my last child at 35 years old, but wanted to lose weight before having my reduction.
Over the next few years I did the opposite...I gained weight and got up to 195 lbs. and a 40G. I was miserable. My bras were extremely uncomfortable and I had major back pain. The pain is in the center of my back and I've even had numbness and tingling. The doctor has told me this is because of my bras and a pinched nerve. X-rays show no back damage, but the doctors feel my breasts are the cause of my pain. I have also had rashes under my breasts and the shoulder tissue is indented. I still get adults who openly comment "your boobs are HUGE!" which is unbelievably uncomfortable. I never wear swimsuits and my kids always ask why mommy won't swim with them. It breaks my heart! We got a new pool built in our backyard and I haven't even went in it one time.
The good news is, I finally HAD IT and have completely changed my eating habits. I eat extremely healthy now (no sugar, flour, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc). I've lost 50 lbs. and my bra size is now a 36G. I have about 20 more lbs. to lose, but I have hope I'll get close to that before my surgery.
Here are some before pics to show how I spill out of sports bras (size XL) and have a lot of sagging.
As I mentioned in my last post I've considered having my BR since high school. I knew I wanted to wait until after I had my kids, because breast feeding was really important to me. Also, I always thought maybe I would learn to like my larger breast as I got older. I've had back pain for about 10 years, notches in my shoulders and rashes under breasts. I always made sure this was documented when I saw my general doctor. About 2 years ago (2014) my doctor asked if I was ready to have my BR and I thought I was. My insurance/doctor group requires patients to attend a BR class where they educate you on the procedure, pros/cons, and risks involved. They also check your BMI (body mass index) and tell you if you are a good candidate. So in 2014 I attended this class and learned more about the procedure. At the time I was overweight, so my BMI was borderline at risk. A BMI of 31+ was considered at risk and my BMI at that time was 30. I decided to postpone surgery to try and lose some more weight. I wanted my BR to be "perfect," since I had waited so long for it.
So now this past April 2016 my doctor asked me again if I was ready for my BR (after I went in for back pain). I told her yes, because I've lost 50 lbs this past year. I'm about 15-20 lbs. from my goal weight. Since it had been 2 years since I last took the BR class, my doctors required I attend it again. I attended it in May and also had my mammogram (both were required to have the surgery). My BMI was down to 27 and I'm still losing, so I felt better this time around.
The first week of June 2016 I had my first consultation with my PS. I had to put on the robe and when he came in he had me take it off and he did some measurements. He said I was a good candidate and basically my procedure is approved for coverage (Yay!). There were a couple of things I heard that concerned me. He said my breasts are wide (from center chest to armpit) and told me that the BR will reduce the size in length, but not the width. He said if he goes too small they will end up looking boxy. Then he said in order for insurance to pay (for it to be considered a medical procedure, not cosmetic) he is required to remove 1 lb. off of each breast. He felt mine were large enough that he could remove a lb. from each and still maintain a good size. He said I'd go down 1 to 2 sizes --- what?? This is what scared me. I'm a 36G and I want to be a C, so 1-2 sizes will leave me still a DD. No way.... I'm going to talk to him more about this with our next visit. I was so shocked I didn't know what to say that day. He also said he doesn't use drains, that he's seen better results without...they're not necessary. And the last shocker was that he said he has a 4-5 month wait list!! I was hoping to have my surgery in the summer, because I don't work summers. But now he said I'd have to come back in 2 months (mid-August) for a follow up visit and then at that time they'd schedule my surgery 1-2 months out -- so Sept/Oct. Now I'll have to take time off of work and it won't be as easy to conceal from coworkers. I was so upset that day, but I've come to accept it. So now I'm waiting until my next appointment in August. In the meantime I'm focused on losing as much weight as I can before surgery.
I can't stop thinking about my BR. It's so hard waiting, when you're ready to move forward. So I keep reading all of the stories here. I can't wait to start my journey. I'm starting to make a list of questions to ask my doctor at my next visit:
- If any revisions/fixes need to be done, are they covered by insurance? I don't think so, since mine is a medical procedure and insurance is covering it.
- Does he have any before/after pictures? He doesn't have a normal PS website, since he's a Kaiser Permanente doctor.
- How many BR surgeries does he perform per year? How many of these require revisions?
- Can I show him pictures of what I like or don't like for final results (on the day of surgery)?
I'm also anxious to buy some sports bras and scar treatment cream. But since I have a few more months I'm holding off. For now, I just browse the bra department and dream about all the shopping I'll be doing in the fall. I can't wait!
The date is set!
Today was my follow up consultation and my surgery date was scheduled for December 12th. I'm so happy to have a date. I have about 10 lbs. more to lose, so that gives me some time. My PS was really great today. He answered all my questions and set my mind at ease. I'll post the questions and answers in a separate post, when I have more time to update.
My questions answered
I saw my PS earlier this week and was able to ask him some of my questions.
1) Will he be changing or reducing my nipple size? He said yes, that my nipples will be made smaller, so they are in proportion to my new breast size. He explained how they are usually stretched out and need to be resized.
2) I asked if he thought I would need lipo in my armpit area, because this is not covered under my insurance. He said I could have it done for about $2k out of pocket, but that he didn't think I needed it. He also said that it can be done later if I felt I wanted it.
3) Shower - He said I'll be bandaged for 1 week and unable to shower. After a week he'll remove my bandages and then I can shower.
4) I explained that I was concerned about being too big after the surgery. I let him know that I have a lot of back pain and I'm a runner. He said there is a range that he recommends based on my size frame. He said he can go more on the smaller end of that range. He feels if you go smaller than the range then my breasts will look boxy, because they are wide. I felt that was a good explanation and I feel much better about the size now. He made notes on my file and told me to remind him the day of surgery.
5) I asked if my insurance would cover any revisions, because this is a medical (not cosmetic) procedure. For example, if I have dog ears or my breasts are uneven or nipples uneven, etc. He reminded me that no two breasts will be exactly alike before or after surgery. But that if there was something obvious that needed corrected, and I wasn't just being nit picky, then the revision would be done in his office and covered by insurance.
6) Before I left the nurse gave me my note for work to approve 2 weeks off. I guess it's official. Yikes!
After that he scheduled my surgery. I was told I'll be contacted about 1 week before for my pre-op appointment. I totally forgot to ask about bras and whether I should pre-buy them. Based on the reviews I've read here, I'm going to buy a couple of open-front sports bras. Not sure on what size :/
I had my pre-op appointment last week. It was a basic physical exam. They checked my stats and gave me a thorough breast exam. A couple of important things I learned --
1. I have a more dense/mass area on my right breast. I've had it for about 10 years. They've done a mammogram and ultrasound, but they've always told me it's nothing to worry about. Anyway, the pre-op nurse said the PS may have it biopsied if he thinks it is needed. That's probably a good thing, if there is any question about it.
2. The pre-op nurse asked me what size I wanted to be after. As weird as it seems, she's the first one to ask me that. I was caught off guard....but I told her a C would be perfect. Could I be that lucky??
3. I asked what size bras to buy and she told me to get some C and D sports bras -- I bought the Fruit of the Loom cotton, front closure style. I've seen others on here buy those. They're inexpensive, about $10 a bra. I want them to be comfortable, but don't want to spend a lot in case I get blood on them or they end up not fitting. They seem SO small!
That was about it. She said they'll call me the Friday before surgery, because my surgery is on Monday. So...surgery is this Monday, 12/12/2016. 4 more days - eeeekkkkk! I'm starting to get nervous and stressing about everything I need to do before then. With Christmas in a few weeks, I'm trying to get my shopping done and tree up before then. This Friday is my last day of work and then I'll get 4 weeks off. I'm looking forward to that. I'll post some before photos this weekend. I can't believe I'm doing this....something I've wanted my whole life.
A few pictures...
Here are a few before pictures with bra and clothes on.
I've dreaded posting these. But I know how helpful this website is, so here goes. I knew I was saggy, but the pictures really solidify the need for this surgery. 2 days and counting.
Remember these breasts breastfeed 3 babies and have gone from a 36I to a 34G (now).
I did it!
12 Dec 2016
Day of treatment
I made it to the other side. I arrived at the hospital at 5:30am. The gave me my wrist ID and I paid the copay ($15). Then they took me to a pre-op room. At this point they made my husband wait in the surgery waiting room. That caught us off guard, but the said he'd be able to come back in about 45 minutes.
In the pre-op room the nurse had me change into the gown and socks. No undies! She took my vitals, put compression cuffs on my calves and put in my IV (saline only). She also asked some standard questions. Then she brought my husband in and he stayed with me until I was taken to surgery.
Next the anesthesiologist came in and asked some questions. I made sure he knew I get very nauseous, so he ordered me the nausea patch and a few other meds that could be tried, if needed. Then the PS came in and did my markups. Once the PS finished putting my gown back on, the anesthesiologist and OR nurse came in to sweep me away to surgery. They had me take a happy pill (valium?) too. Needless to say, I didn't get any pics with my markups! It happened so quickly. I hugged my husband and went to the OR down the hall.
In the OR they strapped my arms out and started my meds. That's the last thing I remember. Next I was waking up in recovery.
I'll write the rest later because I'm getting sleepy. But everything went well and overall I'm feeling pretty good. Mild to medium pain. I'm all bandaged up, so I don't seem smaller. I'm sure I am, just won't be able to see the results until next Wednesday when I get the bandages off. I'm attaching the photos I did take.
Feeling good. Incisions are a little sore, but not bad at all. I'm taking 1 Norco every 4 hours to manage pain. I'm up moving around to prevent leg clots. But otherwise watching TV and relaxing.
So to finish my surgery story --
My surgery lasted about 3 hours. I woke up in recovery and felt fine, just very sleepy. I had a gauze bandage bra on, so I can't see my results. The PS will remove it at my follow up appointment next Wednesday. My husband was brought into recovery and then they moved me to a recovery area in the hospital where I stayed for several hours.
I was nauseous, but the nurses were good about helping me control it. I had the nausea patch behind my ear. But I still felt nauseous. So then they gave me zofran through my IV. Still nauseous, so they pushed a 3rd medicine through the IV and that worked. After that I didn't experience any more nausea throughout the day. I was able to drink some water and eat jello. So then they gave me my first Norco for pain.
They also fully intubated me in surgery. They said my throat might hurt when I woke up, but it didn't. No sore throat, but my voice was a little scratchy.
My blood pressure was vey low (95/57) so they were concerned about that. And when I would fall asleep I would stop breathing (apnea). So I would start to fall asleep and then the machine would start beeping because of my lack of breathing and wake me. That was frustrating. But as time went on and the anesthesia wore off my oxygen level returned to normal.
So after a few hours I got up and walked to the bathroom and one loop around the hospital floor. My legs were weak and wobbly, so I had to hold onto someone. But otherwise I felt fine.
My PS stopped by to see me and told me everything went great and he thinks I'll be happy with my results. That's about it. I was discharged around 4pm and home for dinner. I stayed on a liquid diet at home (broth, applesauce) because I was concerned about vomiting. Overall it has been a great experience!
My pain has been better today. But I feel worse because I'm running a low grade fever of about 99.5. I have a headache and am achy. I slept more today too. I've read on here that day 3 is the worst, so I'm hoping tomorrow is better.
Day 4 better
Today was much better. No fever or headache. I was able to switch from norco pain meds to Tylenol. I had more energy, but may have over did it because tonight I'm exhausted.
Although I feel well enough to go out to the movies or a restaurant, I don't really want to because I'm bandaged and can't shower until next week. Ugh!
The water retention is better today. I don't feel as swollen everywhere. Although I haven't pooped yet, so I've started Mirolax. Hopefully tomorrow. Luckily I'm not in pain. But my stomach is bloated.
Well it's almost been a week and I'm going stir crazy. My PS put on a gauze bra type bandage and I'm not allowed to remove it until my follow up appointment - Day 10! That means I had this surgery and I'm having to be very patient to wait and see any results until day 10. That means no shower until day 10. And because I have a big gauze bra and can't shower until day 10, I also won't leave the house until day 10. I'm extremely bored and going stir crazy. I really want to see my smaller breasts.... It's hard to feel happy about having the surgery since I haven't seen the results and I don't feel smaller. BUT, I know this is all temporary and in 3 more days I'll feel better. Patience, patience, patience! Ugh. Okay, thanks for letting me vent.
On another note, I'm now taking the norco pain meds at night only and tylenol 500 mg during the day (about every 6 hours). I have very little pain now. I'm just taking the meds because my breasts rub against the gauze bra thingy and that's uncomfortable. I think I'll feel much better once I have this gauze bra off and can wear a normal sports bra. I'm able to peak inside the gauze a little. I can see my nipple placement (high up!) and small mounds of breast. Right now the left seems wider than the right, but it could just be swelling.
My back and butt ache a little from sitting and laying on my back all day. I try and walk around throughout the day, but I'm kind of restricted to the house until this gauze bra is removed. It's big and awkward and there's the no shower thing for 10 days (have I mentioned how much I hate this part??).
I also think it's weird that my weight hasn't dropped since the surgery. I mean I'm assuming at least 1 lb. from each breast was removed, since that was required by my insurance. So wouldn't you expect to see a 2 lb. weight loss on the scale? Nope, I'm exactly the same weight after. The gauze bra could be causing some of that weight...but the water retention I had from the anesthesia seems to be gone. Anyone else see weight loss on the scale after reduction? Could it be the swelling that's causing the extra weight? So what do you think??
Today was my 1st follow up appointment and my PS removed my bandage. Finally! I had to wait 9 days to see my new girls. It felt like forever.
He removed the bandage and then snipped a stitch from each side at the T junction. It didn't hurt at all. He looked them over and commented that there is still swelling. He felt good with his work and my healing so far. He sent me home in the gauze bra, told me to shower and then wear sports bras round the clock for the next few weeks.
I was too nervous to look at them there. So I came home and looked before showering. I absolutely LOVE my new breasts. The size and shape are just what I wanted. I think I'll end up being a C or D. There is, as expected, swelling, bruising and healing that needs to happen. But for being one week out I think they look great.
I have feeling in the left nipple, but not so much in the right. I'm hoping with time that it will come back.
The bras I had were too tight (gray one in pictures). It was a 36. I measure a 34 without swelling. So I wore it to Walmart and bought a few larger ones. I ended up liking a Large in the Cozy bra (beige in pictures). It's seamless and has a wide band across the bottom. I had no problem with the pullover (just go slow).
So the past 2 days I've had a red rash on the undersides. It looks like heat rash. It's a little itchy and an irritated feeling. I've kept it clean and am not putting any lotions on it. I also washed all my new bras in gentle, fragrance/dye free laundry soap. I took Benadryl at bedtime, but not during the day because it makes me sleepy. I don't normally have sensitive skin, so this isn't normal for me.
My PS said to wear a sports bra 24/7, but I think I'll try airing them out 15 minutes a few times a day.
Has anyone else experienced this? Any recommendations?
2 week update
It's been 2 weeks since surgery. My incisions are healing great so far. No open areas.
I've had a superficial rash on the under area. It doesn't itch much. It isn't raised, doesn't hurt and no fever. But still annoying. I tried calling my PS office and the nurse's hotline, but with the holidays I haven't had luck reaching anyone. So in the meantime I'm just keeping it clean and dry. The rash isn't on the incisions, so I'm not too worried.
I've been off pain meds for about 4 days now. But I woke up sore this morning. I think I overdid it yesterday (Christmas). So I took Tylenol this morning and am now just relaxing today.
I'm still happy with shape and size. Still a lot of swelling that worsens throughout the day. There's still dried blood around the incisions. I'm not picking at it at all, but just leaving it alone. I figure it will fall off when it's ready.
I was able to see my PS about my rash (see pictures in my last post). He doesn't think it's an infection or anything. He said he thinks it's just my skin being sensitive and to just give it some time. He thinks it will go away on its own. So that's good news. He said I look like I'm healing well still and he'll see me in a few weeks.
Week 3 - Healing is going good. I still have a rash, but it doesn't itch and it looks better day by day. I also still have some scabs that I'm leaving alone. Not picking at all. A little piece comes off each time I shower. I'm hoping they'll be off by week 4. Still a lot of swelling, especially in the evening. I have a thick stitch that has poked out at each T section. But I'm leaving it alone. I'll show my doctor at my 1 month check up next week. Incisions are still sore a little, especially if I'm cold or my nipples brush up against something. But I don't need Tylenol anymore, so that's good. I'm having trouble sleeping...mainly because I'm on my back and still sleeping on an incline. I'd really love to side sleep, but I don't feel ready for that yet. My incisions are really tight and dry, so I've been putting neosporin on them. But only on the incisions because I don't want to aggravate the rash. Otherwise not put anything on them yet. Now for the best news...I measured myself and I think I'm a 36C. Perfect!
Funny story...I was out shopping with my daughter. I was asking if she thought my coworkers would notice my smaller breasts when I go back to work next week. She said "yes, of course. You're totally flat now. Well compared to before." At the time we were at a department store and I was trying on bras. 36C fit -- see pic :). I didn't buy it because my PS wants me to keep wearing sports bras for a few months.
Then we went to Victoria's Secret and my excitement was squashed. They fit me in a 34DD. Seriously, these dumb bras are made for little girls and anorexic super models! Dumb VS. How can I look flat and wear a DD?? anyways, I haven't been able to shop at VS in 20 years. But I guess I can now. Kind of surreal... Just found it all amusing. ;)
4 week update
Feeling much better than I did a week ago. The incisions aren't as sore and I have a lot more energy. The remaining scabs have almost all peeled off, my rash is completely gone and bruising is much less.
I started my period yesterday, so they are a little fuller in the pics because of that. I was also super emotional all weekend, stressing about them being too big still and worrying that the 6 lbs. I gained over the holidays had made them grow already. I know...crazy!! Anyway I woke up this morning and I'm feeling more like myself and love my boobies again. The size is perfect for my body.
Today was my 1st day back to work. It went fine. I'm a little tired, but otherwise no problems. Nobody noticed my smaller chest at all. I had on a black sweater, so it didn't show them off.
Tomorrow I see my PS for my 1 month check up. I plan to ask him about exercising, side sleeping(when is it safe?) and bras. I think he wants me in sports bras for a few more months, but we'll see.
I'm now using neosporin on a few spots with scabbing. I also use Aquaphor ointment on all the other areas of the incisions. I put it on mostly because they feel dry and like they're going to split when they're not moistened. I also just started the Palmers vitamin E lotion all over. I haven't started any scar treatment because I stills have a few spots that are healing.
Another perk is how perky and high my breasts are now. Wow! I can go braless. It's nuts!! I like to air them out after my shower, so I walk around my bathroom doing my hair and makeup topless. And nothing is moving or dangling. I can't tell you how amazing that feels. I know they're going to soften up and drop some, but I hope not too much. I kind of like this!! Lol
Stitches Popped out
Yesterday I had a spot under my left breast that suddenly felt really irritated and a little painful. It's near my T junction, where I've had a tiny scab that hadn't fallen off yet. I had been putting neosporin on it and it had been healing nicely, but then yesterday it started hurting. I have the same scab area on the right side, but it wasn't hurting.
Anyway, when I looked at them yesterday the scab on the right looked like it was dangling so I pulled it a little and it ended up being a stitch that pulled right out. So then I tried the left side that felt irritated and it was a little more stubborn. But since it was bothering me I tugged a little more. Still stuck, so then I used some tiny, sterilized scissors and snipped it off. It turned out to be a stitch too. I think my body was rejecting it and that's why it was hurting and irritated. So it left me with two small superficial holes. I washed them and reapplied neosporin. They're still a little sore, but starting to feel better.
Hopefully they'll heal now with no problems. :)
I can't believe its been 6 weeks already! I'm not feeling any pain or tightness anymore. I'm still sore and tender if I push on areas of my breasts, but feel normal otherwise. I am still experiencing some redness and swelling in my center underside area. Mostly at night. I tried to capture that in my pictures. But my breasts are softer now any feel more natural. They still haven't dropped and look squarish. My PS says once gravity takes over the centers will drop and that flat bottom will round out. Also, because I'm still having some swelling, I'm not really exercising yet. I don't want to disrupt the healing process. But I'm hoping to start running again in a few weeks.
I tried on some regular bras yesterday and I fit both a 34D and 34DD. I'm hoping once all swelling is gone I'll settle at a 34D. I feel anxiety all the time about them being too big or fear that I'll gain weight and they'll grow back. I think it's going to take some time to let go of that fear. A lifelong habit of worrying about my big boobs and all that goes along with them...
I'm now sleeping on my sides - Yay!! The weird thing is it's no longer that comfortable and I keep going back to my back side. Haha...
My next appointment is at 4 months in April. Until then my PS said to continue wearing sports bras 24/7. I'm actually so comfortable in them now, I wonder how I'll ever go back to regular bras! He said I could start scar treatment after 8 weeks. So for now I'm still just using Aquaphor on my incisions (for moisture) and Palmers Vitamin E lotion all over.
I'll update again at 8 weeks. Let me know if you have any questions :)
6 Weeks Continued...
A few more photos :)
Notice the puckering in my right close-up pic under the nipple in the vertical incision. I think those are internal stitches pulling. I'm hoping with massage and time these will smooth out.
6 weeks - oops
A couple more pictures I forgot to add.
I'm almost 8 weeks and feeling good. However, I'm still having weird redness and swelling on my center cleavage and mid under breast area. I've started massaging that area with vitamin E lotion 2x a day. There are no hard lumps or anything. Just small area of mild hardening that feels like swelling. And the surface skin is red, like broken capillaries. It's not painful at all. Any ideas what this could be?? I'm thinking I'll try the massaging for 2 weeks and if it hasn't improved I'll visit my PS.
I'm also posting pics of the creams I've been using and sports bras. I just started scar treatment with the Bio Oil today.
I've had 2 stitches pop out this past week and I can feel one more about to pop out. They're like thin pieces of clear fishing string that pop out of a small pimple like bump. I just pull it lightly with the tweezers.
Other than this, no major changes at week 8. I'm ready to start exercising, but have been down with a sinus infection. Which is crazy because I've been taking a bunch of vitamins to help with my healing process!
20 Feb 2017
2 months post
Just a quick update. Not much has changed. I'm still experiencing swelling and redness on the center cleavage area. I saw a physicians assistant, because my PS wasn't there that day. She didn't think I had an infection, but prescribed me antibiotics as a precaution. I took them and no change. I've now started Arnica chewable tablets to see if they help. We'll see...
I've been using the Bio Oil on my scars for 2 weeks. No change yet, but the oil & massage does feel nice on the scars. Today I started the silicone sheets. I learned I completely suck at putting them on. Not sure how long this will last. They seem like such a pain and this was only day 1. The box says you need to use them 12 hrs. a day for 60-90 days. I'm not sure I'm patient enough for that! I guess we'll see. On a side note, my scars seem to be at the point where they're really red. This is just another stage of healing.
I've also noticed sometimes one nipple will get hard and the other (right) doesn't. Annoying. And I don't have total feeling in either nipple, but more on the left. I'm hoping with time the feeling will return.
Lastly, some days I love them and they're the perfect size and other days they're too big. Still an emotional roller coaster. With every bite I worry about gaining weight, menopause and my boobs growing. Please tell me this too shall pass!