Okay I know you've all heard this story before -...
Okay I know you've all heard this story before - been a D cup since middle school and rocked the E/F's since end of high school. Lost weight, didn't get any smaller. Gained weights, surprisingly didn't change much either! Now I sit at 5'6", ~170# (high end of my weight usually) and a 34E give or take a cup size and day. I've been active all my life, but also have had chronic neck and midback pain as well as headaches. When I was 17 I asked for a reduction and was told I was too young/"but what if you want kids?!" Many years passed, I kept being active, wearing 2-3 sports bras, paying $60-100+ for bras online, trying to feel feminine, and hurting, always hurting. Then I injured my shoulder 4 years ago. Everything went downhill after that - I couldn't rehab it properly and running made my arm go numb so I started cinching my band tighter so it would reduce the bounce, then my ribs started slipping ever so slightly out of place and I would have pain breathing. Then of course I went to grad school, became a physical therapist, and the pain became worse. No matter how many of my coworkers took care of me, the next day it was back.
Anyway, I can go on and on. Finally I decided to make the leap. This is all happening much much faster than I anticipated - my consultation was Aug 12th, pre-op is Sept 16th, surgery is Sept 30th. I had a good vibe off my first surgeon from the get-go - Dr. Daniel B. Allen of Castro Valley. Yet I'm terrified that I should have had a consult with a second PS. At the same time, my insurance is not accepted at many locations, and I can barely afford my out of pocket as is so there's no way I can go out of network. Plus this all started happening so quickly that I just let it all flow - which is both exactly how I am and opposite - usually I'm more cautious with items of this nature/sensitivity. But alas, towel has been thrown.
And this is me unloading all my nervous/fear/anxiety on the internet. Oh you wonderful folk you. But damnit, this is happening and I CANNOT WAIT!!! To run again, to play volleyball again, shoot to just work again and not feel wrecked at the end of the day. I just wanna jump up and down and not regret it! 34C/D here I come!!!
Just got a few post-op bras in the mail so I figured I'd try one on - supposed to stretch to a 34 B-DD....yeah.....
A few more photos
As I'm getting ready I've been cleaning out my closet and trying on clothes that I just haven't been able to wear. And yes I know, they don't look that big in the outfits, but I'm also wearing my go to favorite supportive F cup bra so....yup.
Had my preop appointment yesterday. Went very well. I asked a lot of questions and I'm going to share some of those answers with everybody today. One of the things that I have been told when I talk to a lot of friends who have this procedure is to be very very clear with your surgeon about what size you want and what your expectations are for the surgery. So I was perhaps overly upfront with my surgeon but I think he appreciated it. The biggest thing that I pushed is that I would like to be a C cup. He continually reminded me that while he is confident of achieving a D cup for me a C cup may not be achievable given the amount of tissue that would be required to be removed. As of right now he is estimating between 1.5 to 2 pounds to be removed from each breast. We talked about the risk factors and he said that there is about a 40% chance that one of my breasts will experience some sort of feeling issue. He said that this was true across all surgeons and if a surgeon told you otherwise they were misleading. He indicated that the majority of these wound healing issues are rarely significant and often resolved within a week or so. He said that he is never had to do a revision for scars, and has only had to do one or two revisions for obvious irregularities in shape/size. He puts drains and 80 to 85% of his patients, but stated that he will do his best to not have that needed. It all depends on how the patient's body responds. We talked about returning to work and agreed that I would be off for a full three weeks, so that when I return to work I would be at 10 pound weight restriction rather than 5 pounds. He provided me with pain medication prescription as well as antibiotics and antinausea. He stated he wants me to walk around my apartment on the same day of surgery as well as the following day. And that I can start going on short walks around the neighborhood by day three Adams walking the lake by day five ( the lake is 3 miles.) he will not be providing me with a surgical bra but said that any sports bra without any underwire is fine, I brought in a brawl I had bought from Amazon and he said that it would be good as long as it fits and is comfortable. He recommended making sure I have a supply of clean gauze for any leakage that may occur from the suture area. I think that covers the just of what we discussed. I will be reporting for surgery at 6:30 AM with surgery time said at 8 AM the first of the day. My mom will be driving me to and from as well as stayed with me the first few nights. Sure I forgot and somethings if you have any questions feel free to ask I was pretty thorough with my conversation with my surgeon.
Just a side note, I shared some these photos with friends and I've had a lot of people tell me "oh you're not that big why are you getting the surgery why are you doing getting rid of what women would kill to have." At first it rubbed me the wrong way, but the truth is I have been wanting to do this for over 10 years now. I have had pain from a body image issues because of that I have had so many other factors to why this is not a comfortable size, frankly, i'm not sure I care what they have to say. The irony is, even right now with me being at my heaviest, I love my body I hate the pain. I hate how tops and dresses can be so constrictive even when I find things that "fit me". I hate that I put on a sports bra and my left arm goes numb and I have searing pain across the top of my shoulders and into my mid back. I hate that in order to not have my shoulders hurt I have to pull the straps knock against my rib cage my ribs shift out of place and cause pain with deep breaths. I hate that I can't do the things that make me happy like volleyball and working out and being comfortable in my own skin. To everyone telling me I shouldn't get a reduction, but I'm not that big, live a week with my body. Tell me it doesn't hurt.
Darn it! I started updating this then accidentally closed the window. Sigh. Okay, let's try again....last post, surgery in 36hours and counting. I've done the following to prepare:
* Vit C, Lysine, Probiotic added to the morning routine for the past month
* Stopped BC per request of my PS (I can start back on shortly after the surgery)
* Purchased bras, comfy clothes, etc. for after
* Stocked up with prescribed meds as well as turmeric, arnica gel, and stool softeners (Thanks ladies!) -- also my pharmacist warned of increased likelihood of yeast infection with the antibiotics - so he recommended taking a probiotic daily as well (just not at the same time!)
* Costco run - veggies, hummus, fruit, fish, rice - all at the ready so it's easy to prep and I don't have to lift a lot.
* Lots of books plus Netflix and Hulu recommendations at the ready
* Last minute "before" pics!
* Go to work - finish all my notes before leaving
* Get bodywork done by my coworker to "unwind" before the procedure
* Bring my dog to her sitter for the week/weekend
* Final vacuum - change the sheets so they are dog hair free
* Get some sort of 30min workout in per request of my MD - brisk walk, jog, biking, etc.
* Get sleep.
I'm sure I'm missing something, but this dang thing got lost and I have to finish my work from today before tomorrow comes. If you think of anything else I should consider, let me know! I won't be posting anymore until after Wednesday! Yippeee!!!!
Day 1 post-op!
Whoo! Yesterday was something else. Woke up at 5:30 showered with also. Hopped in the car at 6:05, was at my surgery center at 6:30. Filled out paperwork (was a little weirded out that the receptionist was clearly sick and all I could think of was the last thing I need is to get a cold on the day of my surgery.) Nurse came to get me shortly after 715am. Apparently my surgeon is known for running late even on the first morning appointment, can't say I'm surprised LOL. Met the anesthesiologist, asked him to numb my hand before inserting the IV. He acquiesced. Surgeon arrive probably close to 8 o'clock to draw on my breasts. We had the discussion one more time about my goals (C cup!) and his goals (as close to a C as he can SAFELY make me). And they brought me into the surgery room. I barely remember being lied down on the table next thing I know I'm out. Apparently when I came to, my mom said I started crying and they got worried. And my mom asked me why I was crying. My response "I am so happy. I am just so freaking happy." And apparently I was dropping the F bomb all over the place as I was coming off the anesthesia LOL. I had to stay for several hours after due to severe dehydration. I think they had to use 5 1/2 IV bags after the surgery on me. It was great though, because the shirt I came in wearing without a bra was pooching open, showing my breasts, yet even with all the gods and tape and swelling it buttons up nicely over me right now. Taking Max amount of pain medication that I can right now. I did call my doctor last night because the right breast was significantly more swollen than the left and had a different sort of pain but he said it and it's perfectly normal he's glad I told him about it but that it should start to level out over the next couple days. He's going to call me later today but told me to text him or call him as needed before then. Food wise I was able to eat almonds grapes and cream of wheat yesterday. And I've been drinking a lot of water and Gatorade. Having my mom around has been so amazing and such a great support. I highly recommend that you have someone who you're comfortable asking for help from. I am sure there's more to catch everybody up on but I am currently very sleepy again, so I'm going to go take a nap.
Surgeon house visit
Man the surgery can really be training. It's hard to talk or do you and just the simplest of tasks without it feeling just very draining on your body. Anyway my surgeon came by to alleviate my fears of my right breast been more swollen than the left. He remove the gauze, told me he only used internal sutures no external so nothing has to be removed. No drains. And I don't have to see him for another 2 to 3 weeks. Sounds like he removed just shy of a pound out of each breast so somewhere between a pound and a half to 2 pounds total. But man I think he's at the right amount he did a really good job of matching my shape and size to my body type. Check out the comparison pics on this post!
1 week update - some complications
Just wanted to give a 1 week update. My body is definitely not a fan of surgery or medicine as I've learned. I was kept in the recovery room for 5.5 IV bags of fluid after the surgery due to dehydration. Then, with all the medication I was taking, lots of nausea, lack of energy, etc. Pretty typical of post-op from what I gather, nonetheless I am not a fan! The bad news came in the form of this morning when I went to get my left calf assessed. Turns out I have a clot (DVT) in my post tib vein. They started me on anticoagulant therapy which will help thin my blood to prevent dislodging of the clot and allow it to dissolve on it's own.
On the plus side, loving my smaller chest and lack of neck and shoulder pain!!! Haven't had a musculoskeletal related neck/headache since the surgery! Sleeping was good the first few days - been slowly getting more difficult as I'm usually someone who tosses and turns. Starting to sleep for short segments on my side and also dropped back down to one pillow which has helped. Some bruising in righty more than lefty, and a lot of tender points throughout the mammillary fold and incision lines. Just the way my breasts feel, I do wish he had removed just a touch more, especially laterally - but I can always save up for getting the axillary liposuction down the road. Plus I still don't know how much swelling is still to go down. I'd peg myself at a 34D/DD right now :-/. Not as small as I had hoped, but knowing my body feels the difference is relieving.
Word of advice to those getting ready to go under - make sure you have someone who cares about you and who won't be bothered by you're silliness while recovering. Having my mom there the first few days and then my dad switching out made all the difference. He's still here and I'm glad he was able to go with me to the ER while figuring out the whole DVT thing.
Just checking in
I have my first real post-op appt tomorrow where hopefully the tape will be removed and I get to see my scars for the first time! Minus getting a clot in my leg and feeling miserable for the first week from all the drugs, I must say I have been fortunate for a relatively uneventful recovery so far. Well, add the fact that someone elbowed me in the chest this weekend and I have a huge bruise on righty. Ah well. Swelling still appears pretty intense and my breasts are pretty firm and tender to the touch still (right more than left). I realized I really should have been wearing more compressive bras during this rehab time but they were so dang uncomfortable to sleep in - so my compromise is compressive during the day and soft and fluffy at night. Hoping that will help more with the shaping. Few other things I learned is that it's hard to not lift/push/pull/carry items heavier than 5# and that driving side streets is worse than freeways because of all the turns.
I'm still happy with my choice, but it's just so hard for me to come to terms with the fact that my surgeon seems to have come up short with what we talked about. I'm confident my size is going to be a DD but cup size aside, I don't feel that the maximum was taken out. Which means when I start working out again who knows if I'm going to still have to wear an overly compressive sports bra that pushes my rib out or compresses my brachial plexus and causes numbness/tingling? That was such a driving force to me taking the leap for this surgery. I'm just nervous it was enough. It's frustrating. But then I remind myself to be grateful that I'm healing well and that my friends and family have been such a great support system. It really amazes me what a psychological beast this experience has been. And I know it will only continue. Luckily I have this amazing forum!!
So I know a lot of you women are younger as well, or at least young at heart. I'm 2.5 weeks post-op and minus the breasts just being incredibly swollen (not much change over the past 2 weeks) they've been feeling pretty okay. Every now and then I get a zinger at the nipple or along incision lines, but tolerable. This past weekend I ended up doing a lot of dancing, which probably wasn't a good idea. The thing that is killing me though, is my back and shoulders still hurt at the end of the night. My chest was of course still swollen. But I'm just so frustrated that I still feel as big and heavy as I do. I know that it's still very early and I need to let my body heal, but I also need to keep my head and heart sane, which is not easy with all these restrictions! I guess I should also clarify that I'm single, have a roommate who's never around (so no help there), and am used to being 100% independent and taking care of my own. I hate that I look healthy, feel relatively healthy, and still have to ask for help to pick up a damn suitcase. At the same time, I'm also worried that because of my inability to follow all of my surgeons request that on Wednesday when he takes off the tape I'm going to have wound healing problems. So what have you done ladies? How did you keep yourself from going out, or dancing, or even just cleaning up the house?! What advice do you have for the stir-crazy?
Tape is off!
Finally got to remove the tape. Overall the incisions look good with some potential wound healing issues on the right which hopefully will be resolved quickly with antibiotic cream. My breasts somewhat changed shape immediately after the tape was removed and everything settled. At first they were boxy with the tape then suddenly pointy without and settled to a somewhat normal ish round shape. After a shower (exfoliation!!) I put in silicone gel sheets to the scars on the bottom and covered the potential wound healing sites with Neosporin and bandaids. PS was happy with how things looked. Cleared me for 10# lifting and said in 2 weeks I can start jogging.
Now for the not as good news: saw the hematologist as well today - she has some concerns about me possibly having clotting problems that were undetected prior to the surgery and as I've been having some dyspnea and tachycardia with atypical triggers. So by her recommendation - still no strenuous hiking (and no sex! ????). I'm waiting on my insurance to approve the CT-angiogram needed to clear my lungs and heart. Should be negative, but need to be safe and rule it all out.
Heading back to work next week, so happy! Will be part time in order to not overdo things but I can't wait to actually have something to spend my time doing.
So that's my update for now!
First 2 days at work down!
So glad I'm only working 4 hour days. Day one wasn't so bad, but today was definitely worse as I was more swollen and sore in my chest - thus a nap was needed!!! Hoping the rest if the week isn't too intense.
I took a few photos of my incisions. I'm not happy with the shape of the cuts at all - I think it was poorly done and will contribute to my breasts settling in an abnormal fashion as I feel is starting to occur. Plus, for being about 23ish days out when I took these pictures I would have expected the incisions to not be as red (given what I have seen on this site) but alas this is what it is. I used silicone strips the past 5 or so days which definitely made the incisions more comfortable in my bra but not sure it's made a big difference. I also purchased Target-brand mederma so we will see how that goes. I'm trying to be patient and wait but there is a good chance I am going to speak to a second surgeon regarding the pros/cons of the axillary liposuction and if it might benefit the final result more. Ugh, wish I was as happy as many of you gals!
Also waiting on results from my blood tests. Ayi ayi ayi.
A month out and 4 days back at work.
Oh how this week has been exhausting. So glad tomorrow is Friday. I've realized that the irony is I'm in the opposite boat than I anticipated. I expected to be much smaller and still have pain. Instead I'm much larger but my headaches are down about 75%, shoulder pain about 50-60% reduced and mid back pain about 20-30% reduced. I'm unhappy about the quality of work and current shape. The scars are still very red and "funky" compared to many other women's on here at 1month. I'm worried that because of the poor job that my breasts will have an atypical shape. as states they are already sagging and still bottom heavy (no upper fullness). So not ever going to feel comfortable not wearing a bra (have I already said that...?)
But clearly, maybe I'm okay with it all? Or maybe I'm just able to cope better than I thought? Because I'm still here encouraging others to pursue this surgery. And despite me thinking I had it all together, that I did my due diligence, I can't help but think the end result is a fair amount my fault for not searching harder for a second consult with a PS that uses my insurance. So I hope that others can learn from my errors. And I have to believe that things will eventually settle, and allow me to be okay with my new body.
Still hurts, still frustrated with the shape.
I've never been unhappy with how my breasts look, so this has been a difficult experience for me. In a bra - okay things are fine. Still seem large to me but I'm dealing. What I'm struggling the most with is the amount of pain, the swelling, the hard spot on my red breast, the redness of the scars, and the way the shape is settling. It's not even just that it's boxy, it's like a freaking triangle. And they have already bottomed out now a lot. I'm so self conscious about them now, in a way that I've never felt before. I have no desire to let someone (aka a partner) see them or touch then. As a 27y/o single female, it's frustrating.
I don't see my surgeon again until December. Not even sure what I'll say to him. I feel like I'm being ungrateful cuz hey, my headaches are down, but I'm starting to feel depressed about everything. And that's not to ask for people to tell me "oh they look good, etc" - truthfully I'm using the site at this point as my own personal diary lol. Just need somewhere to express my disappointment.
Progression of the sag
Forgot to add this pic. It shows how my breast has changed over the past month and a half since the surgery. Starting to look like is old self, which I'm not okay with.
Checking back in finally! - 10.5weeks postop
10 Dec 2015
3 months post
It's been a while since I have checked in...but here we go! I'm a little over 10 weeks post-op now and have been back to work for 7 weeks. Overall I'm still quite swollen, sore, mid back pain persists, and constantly reminded of the fact that I had surgery on my breasts. It's a very strange experience.
Post-op complications: After learning of my blood clot shortly after my surgery and doing followups that lead to an ultrasound of my right breast (diagnosed with a seroma) and some minor wound healing my post-op wound healing complications are slowing down. Well, at least the kind that make you grimace and say "ooo that's not good". Yet I still have a lot of swelling, tenderness, and occasional sharp pains. I spoke with my PS at 9 weeks post-op and he said my pain was somewhat abnormal but that "you look great!" and just offered me a prescription for pain meds to address my breast pain. Which I'd rather not take as I'm still using more tylenol now than I was prior to my surgery. I'm less than thrilled with my PS's handling of things, but it is what it is.
My incisions are still red and firm - used silicone strips for about 3 weeks but they were such as hassle. I've been using Mederma for the past month which has also only been mediocre. I'm scared to get professionally sized because I don't want to know the result.
I started working out finally earlier this week - did some jogging, a cardio hip hop class, and some weight lifting. I'm currently wearing the same sports bras. Yup. Same ones. And I hurt more with workouts (more in the breast than shoulders though, which is a plus I guess...?) The process is continuing to be emotionally draining. Down the road I plan on getting a few second opinions on revisions, but for the time being I'm just trying to deal with the day to day and get back to feeling more like myself. Not sure when that will be, but I'm on my way!
I've included some updated photos. You can see that the sagging is happening. Yes yes I know, they at least appear proportional, though truthfully I've gained about 5-8# since surgery plus my swelling (due to being so inactive and frankly eating out of emotion) that now I have to get my ass working and in shape again. Plus I feel swollen around my rib cage all the time. Sigh. It's a process. That's what I'll keep telling myself.
Was it worth it? Jury is still out. I want to say yes, just can't quite say it yet.
Got fitted today.....
13 Dec 2015
3 months post
She measured me at a 34DD....then handed me bra sizes that ranged from 34DD to F. So my breasts are pretty much the same. Just perkier I guess. On the plus side I got a bra for only $44 instead of $60 plus. Trying to stay positive. Also, this bra is pretty amazing - no wire, narrow straps, and the straps are super convertible!
Checking in 10+ months post-op now - worth reading
16 Aug 2016
11 months post
Hi all, it's been a while since I have been on the website - you know life and all. So here's an update on things for those who are wondering how life is almost a year out of surgery and what it's like. I have held off on writing until I was closer to a year out about my frustrations mentioned earlier, because everyone I spoke to in the medical world reminded me I needed to wait until that 12 month mark. In that time some things have improved (such as swelling) but others remain as you'll read below.
Let's talk positives first: my intercostals along the left side never really spasm anymore which means when I wear a compression sports bra I can go jogging and play sports without severe discomfort/pain. My headaches as they relate to upper trap/fascial compression from the bras i would wear and the weight they had to hold are down by easily 90%. I still get headaches occasionally, but they are usually triggered by other factors now. My TOS/radiculopathy symptoms as a whole have been reduced by 50-60%. I am able to play volleyball again, go jogging, hike with heavier packs and be comfortable in my upper back/neck/shoulders. Not to say symptoms are 100% resolved, but overall, things are significantly improved.
Neutral: Size. I sit around a 34DD/DDD (from a 34G/F) depending on bra size. I am okay enough with the DD, as it fits my body type/shape for the most part. The disappointing part is that my breast do not pass the "pencil test" as there was moderate sagging that still occurred.
Now for the negative: Due in part, I believe, to an overly strong pain medication which made me drowsy/lethargic and immobile, I developed a DVT within a few days post-op. My surgeon was skeptical despite my insistence and only provided me a referral for an ultrasound because of my request. The DVT means I had to change my birth control from Ocella (estrogen based pill) to the IUD, which has been less than ideal in terms of my body's response to it.
Scarring - this is one of the most negative experiences for me. I actually showed my friend (who herself had a reduction about a decade or 2 ago) and she used the words "butchered" and "what did he do?". You can imagine then how whenever I consider intimacy with someone, this is in the back of my mind. The scars are uneven/jagged lines, keloided/raised, reddened, and along both vertical incisions I have abnormal coloring. The right areola is irregular. Pre-surgery I was happy with my breasts for how they looked naked, just hated how heavy and restrictive they felt and the pain their weight contributed to my daily existence. I was actually more confident when the clothes came off when than when they were on. Now, my personal confidence is significantly altered when I have to explain to a potential partner about my scars. (In case you are wondering - to address scarring I tried: silicone strips, vitamin E, gentle scar tissue massage in order to minimize sag)
Pain: this is the one that I wasn't fully expecting. The severe pain in my incisions that persists, even now almost a year out. Some days it's non-existent, some days it's a stabbing, searing pain as limiting as my pain I had from the weight of them in the past. What's worse is that it makes wearing underwire bras, which I still prefer for their support, quite irritating at times as the thickness of the scars almost guarantees that it will hit right along those scars. So still at this point, finding bras that fit comfortable can prove to be challenging. In addition, being intimate with partner can, and often is painful in the breasts. Sometimes it's painful during, depending on activities, but often it's the next day that I feel like they were run over by a truck. It has slowly improved over the months, but it's still not "normal" or minimally affecting. It's something I have to be mentally prepared for.
I am writing about these things because it wasn't something that I fully registered or recognized would happen. Sure there are "horror" stories of completely botched surgeries, and these nuances may appear more subtle, but the culmination of the negatives has become such an infringement on my confidence and my ability to be comfortable once again in my own skin. Not to mention, the ultimate cost of this surgery was much higher than I had been prepared for when combining additional costs for dealing with the DVT, changing birth control, MD visits to follow up on, ER visits for scares that the DVT had returned, money spent on everything I could think of to minimize poor scarring in addition to the emotional and personal "costs" if i you will.
So bottom line then, would I still do it again? Yes. But I would not do it again with the same surgeon. I would not let insurance be such a limiting force for me. The amount I ended up paying because of secondary complications combined with my surgeon fees (oh and add'l fees because my surgeon used labs/etc that were not contracted with my insurance without consulting me first) was ultimately equivalent what I would have paid out of pocket for some more reputable/respected surgeons in the area.
I am going to be struggling with the emotional/self-confidence damage that has occurred in addition to my new pain factors for likely months if not years to come. Thankfully I have little things, like minimal to pain free volleyball and jogging back in my life to keep things in perspective. It's not easy though. I do genuinely look at my scars and feel like the person working on me just didn't care to put in quality work. It's a difficulty feeling to process, but I am working on it. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have.