My best advice/tips & tricks and things I’d wish I’d known prior to breast reduction:
Not in any particular order here - I hope you find these useful!! I think they are golden, if I do say so myself!!
*Hair dryer - You need to keep your sutures dry. With limited mobility, you may not realize it until it happens, but drying yourself off (particularly your lady bits) is quite difficult!! And the last thing you want to do is wipe or pat dry those sutured areas as they are TENDER! So…..get out your hair dryer, baby!! If you have a cool setting or cold shot button, even better!!! Dry your arm pits, your breasts and areas down below. Particularly with the cool setting, you’ll feel breezy & fresh. Heck - I may just continue to do this even well after my recovery!!
*Peri bottles - Get yourself a peri bottle BEFORE surgery! (http://www.amazon.com/DYND70125H-Perineal-Irrigation-Bottle-Pack/dp/B00KHKHXBC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458916274&sr=8-1&keywords=peri+bottles) I actually got the 5-pack, as they come in handy for a variety of other things, too (like ACV rinse in your hair!!) Since you can’t fully bathe or shower the first couple of days, you can easily clean your nether regions over the potty & at least feel clean down there! Get your soap/hygiene wash & sit on the toilet and clean yourself up that way. After - use hair dryer method stated above.
*Long handled brush - Not only are these great for dry brushing your body (if you don’t know about the benefits of this - Google it! - But if you get an itch somewhere you can’t reach (again, limited mobility) - this comes in super handy. Also, if anyone gets out of line, you can always smack them with it. Like this one here: (http://www.amazon.com/Brusybrush-Extra-Long-Handle-Brush/dp/B011GT80BY/ref=sr_1_14_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1458916533&sr=8-14&keywords=long+handled+brush) But you can find these most anywhere.
*Coconut oil - Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil is by BFF for numerous reasons. I religiously slathered my breasts and nipples with it for a solid 2 weeks before surgery - once in the morning & again at night.
*Research photos on-line (like here on Real Self) because you cannot adequately relay your thoughts of the images you have conjured up in your mind about how you’d like your breasts to look. You can’t assume the person you’re telling will get the same image. Also, cup size does always translate the same from one person to another. If you can find Before/After shots of someone with breasts similar to yours BEFORE with a desired end result you’d like - even better!! Take them with you to your surgeon. This is a golden nugget tip, I’m tellin’ ya!
*Butter knife (with no serrated edge) for draining your drains. Those suckers are a lot harder to squeeze out than you’d think. When draining, hold the tube as high up as you can, and slide the knife from the UNDERSIDE of the tube all the way down to the bulb. It’s difficult to put this into words, but of all things, I found the butter knife (like this one here: (http://www.amazon.com/WMF-Manaos--Bistro-Butter-Spreader/dp/B0057U0260/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1458916955&sr=8-4&keywords=butter+knife) helpful - especially because of the way it’s shaped.
*Stay ahead of the pain!!! Take your pain meds on a schedule. Don’t wait until you start to hurt and try to catch up! Just DON’T! Trust me on this here. As much as we’d like to believe, we can’t ALWAYS be Super Woman!
*Try to pre-plan as much as you can (HEALTHY snacks, meals, etc.) The last thing you want is someone in your household asking “what’s for dinner?” Plan it out ahead of time on calendar, if needed. In my house, these people need every little thing spelled out for them.
*Make a list of household duties, etc. others in the household need to do on certain days (as referenced above, as far as my family goes, they need it spelled out for them and told WHEN it needs to be done & exactly HOW….geez) But if there are any extra things that need to be done that aren’t on a regular basis (extra cleaning of baseboards, windows, ceiling fans, etc.) - take advantage of this time and have others do these things for you & that way you won’t have to worry about getting them done for a LONG time!! ;)
*Put everything you could possibly need for a few weeks at waist-level height so that you won’t have to reach or strain yourself to get to them If you don’t have one - a step stool (I have a fabulous inexpensive wood one from Ikea) come in super handy in the event you DO need to get into a cabinet.
*Bananas - they help with constipation that can occur from surgery and pain meds. Eat one, have it in a smoothie, whatever - add these to your diet in the beginning to help keep things movin’ and groovin’.
*Prebiotics AND probiotics - you will likely be on antibiotics, and antibiotics destroy ALL the bacteria (good AND bad) in your digestive tract, so these are super duper important to combat the negative side effect of antibiotics AND will help keep your digestive system happy and truckin’ along. (This here is what I use & it’s PREMIUM quality & contains a whopping equivalent of 1600 cups of yogurt in probiotic content. But it also contains PREbiotics which are beneficial and what PRObiotics feed off of. Either way, find a GOOD quality one. They are NOT all created equal! (https://suburbiasteph.le-vel.com/Products/THRIVE/Mix)
*Medicine bottles - especially if you don’t have anyone to help you (but be cautious if you have children, obviously) - easy open caps on your prescription bottles!!! OR transfer them to something you can open easily. Those press down & twist tops are harder to open than you’d realize when you’re in this condition!!
*Get in best health/shape you can prior to surgery- it will promote faster, better healing. Particularly, work on your lower body strength/quads/squats!!!! Since you can’t really use your upper body, you will be relying a LOT on your lower body. You won’t be able to bend over, so squat, squat, squat!! Squat down to pick something up if needed and use the strength of your legs to pull yourself back up to a stand. If you have monkey toes, like I do, you can grab things on the ground with your toes and bring them up to your hand. Clean up your eating, drink lots of water, and all that good stuff. Little fact: sweet potatoes help promote healing of skin! Get ya some!
*Practice getting out of bed. I know many of us stay in a recliner in the beginning, which is great, but they are difficult to get out of & definitely require assistance to do so. I couldn’t even reach to the handle on the side to lift the foot rest up and I most definitely didn’t have the strength, either, to close it with my legs. A bonus to being in a recliner, though, is if you share your bed with someone, at least you won’t have to worry about any surprise “bumps” in the middle of the night. The LAST thing you want is a jab to the boob in the middle of the night (or ANY time, for that matter). Here’s how you will want to get out of bed, though: raise yourself up (trying NOT to use your arms, but the strength of your back) and swing your legs over to the side of the bed. Start to slide your booty of the bed and use your feet to catch you and the strength of your quads to pull yourself up to a stand. Also, if you share your bed - make a pillow divider between you! You will want each of your arms raised up on pillows anyhow, but it also creates a little extra barrier from an accidental jab.
*Hand soap - in regards to hand soap, I use B&BW and it was difficult for me to pump normally, I could pump it with one hand. Not post op! I had to pick it up with my left hand and place my thumb on the pump and press down. Again, make sure it’s near the edge of your sink, because you do NOT want to have to reach! It’s hard to relay this into written words - just make sure whatever you use, is super easy to dispense. You’d be surprised at how difficult this was and the muscles you use just pumping freaking hand soap!
*Grip n Grab, reach tool thingie. I don’t know what the technical name for this is, but this may come in quite useful. I bought this one here: (http://www.amazon.com/Ettore-49036-Gripn-Reach-32-Inch/dp/B001B13PC2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458918422&sr=8-1&keywords=grip+n+grab)
*Ice packs - small ice packs that will fit inside a bra, stay cold for a long period of time & not have sharp edges poking you! The one they gave me after surgery was huge and awkward. Ice on your recovering breasts feels more amazing than you realize!!!! And I tried frozen corn….that was a bust. Small ice packs that you can place inside your bra work best!!
*Prepare yourself mentally that you won’t look like you hope/imagine RIGHT away. There are a LOT of factors that come into play during your surgery, so the final outcome may not be EXACTLY as you have imagined in your mind. For ME, personally, my focus wasn’t on the appearance of them, but rather, how the quality of my life & being was going to be improved! Breasts naturally aren’t perfectly symmetrical, so if they aren’t “identical twins”, don’t be disappointed.
*Think POSITIVELY!! Positive thoughts not only help you FEEL better, but think better and help your physical body in it’s healing. Remaining positive during pain and discomfort might be a challenge, but keep your focus on the end result & all the new freedoms you are about to have!
*Know that getting this done will NOT resolve all the issues in your life. Expect to have a roller coaster of emotions - it’s kinda weird not feeling like “you” as you’re use to, or that your new breasts belong to you. Even 2 weeks later for me, there are times it still seems very surreal. It may take some getting use to. I’ve read other stories too, where people had back/neck/shoulder problems go away temporarily, but then return again. Getting a reduction wasn’t enough or the damage was already too extensive for it to help, unfortunately. Keep an open mind, and again, keep POSITIVE! There may be times you feel guilty because either you had to pay for this procedure and feel that you have created a financial burden, guilty you can’t help out like you normally would be able to, guilty because they healing process is taking longer than you’d hope, etc.
*Nails/hair - Nail polish on my fingernails wasn’t allowed for me on the day of surgery, as it can interfere with the monitor they place on your finger. Get/give yourself a nice pedicure and make those piggies pretty because again, bending over - especially for a period of time to pretty up your feet, will be difficult. I got a haircut the day BEFORE my surgery, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it for several days & at least feel a little prettier when I wouldn’t be feeling it! I wish I could have found one of those rubber sprayer extensions to attach to my bathtub faucet, so that would help my husband in washing my hair, and I could be sitting down and not in the shower.
*Pathology - I didn’t know they send in the removed tissue to pathology. I’m not sure if this is standard procedure, but it was comforting to know that in the 2.5 pounds of tissue they took from me, it was all-clear!
*Clothing - We all know and hear to get button up shirts, but hoodies are fabulous, too! I had a hard time finding button-ups (especially ones I liked & I certainly didn’t want to spend $$ on clothing I’d only wear temporarily & never again), but I have a TON of zip up hoodie jackets!! Also, things you can put on from the feet up and pull up are great, too. Like those cute strapless dresses - pull it up & you can always wear a cardigan or light sweater over it to cover your bra straps, since you’ll be wearing one in the beginning.
*Bras - I have seen countless posts about what bras to get post-surgery. And if you’ve looked around, there are some VERY pricey, high dollar ones! And of course, trying to figure out what size to get in advance is challenging, too, because you have no idea, really, what you’ll need. I see the Fruit of the Loom (FTL) cotton front-closed bras mentioned a lot, and it just so happens that’s what my surgeon put me in post surgery. The great things about these is that they are very inexpensive, if you get them - they go by band size, and you need to get a size or 2 up from where you are now (I wear a 38, and a 40 & even 42 work well on me). You can order them on-line from Wal-Mart….get site to store shipping (so it’s FREE!) and if it doesn’t work out, just return it. We all have a Wally World close by! They have a bigger selection on-line and better deals, as they come in 2-packs! Here are a couple I got: (Racerback style: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Fruit-of-the-Loom-Front-Close-Racerback-Sport-Bra-2-pack-FT390/33102925) (Regular style: http://www.walmart.com/ip/FAST-TRACK-Fruit-of-the-Loom-Comfort-Front-Close-Sports-Bra-2-Pack-Style-96014PK/23091827) Now, with these, the seam tends to hit at my under boob stitches, so if it should bother you, you can place some soft, comfy socks as a barrier between the bra & your skin. Also, there are tons of ver inexpensive bras (like the Genie bra) that are super stretchy & comfy and in the beginning, can easily be put on from the feet up since you can’t put your arms over your head.
*Panty-liners - These are FABULOUS & inexpensive (and you probably already have some anyway!) to place inside your bra to catch any possible bleeding you may have initially and after getting sutures removed. Super simple, right? Love it! And they are the perfect size & adhere beautifully and aren’t bulky.
*Give it time! Whoever thinks taking it easy is “easy”, couldn’t be more wrong! Don’t be in a hurry or think badly if you aren’t able to do things within a certain period of time. Take it easy as long as possible! I have tried to overdo it & wound up setting myself back and in some pain (busted an internal suture!) from putting pressure on MYSELF that I should be doing more. Don’t be afraid or feel like an inconvenience to ask others for help & assistance. The LAST thing you need is a setback or damaging your surgery & possibly hurting yourself even more. I know a lot of people are SUPER excited (because it IS exciting!) to get out and try on new clothes and things they weren’t able to wear before. DON’T! You have plenty of time for all of that. Give yourself a solid 6, maybe even 8 weeks to get back to “normal”. It can be discouraging to read stories of others who are driving, cooking, exercising or doing this-or-that within a week or 2. Everyone heals differently and on different schedules.
I hope all this helps you in anyway - even if it’s only ONE thing! If I think of anything else, I’ll be sure to add it in later.
Most importantly, know that you DESERVE this & to be and feel your very best and be comfortable in your own skin! Be KIND to yourself & be PATIENT (yes, I know I need to heed my own advice on that one!). Best of luck to all of you in your journeys to the smaller side!