7 Days To Breathe. Toronto, ON

Every morning I wake up with stiff hips, a searing...

Every morning I wake up with stiff hips, a searing pain through my mid-back, tight shoulders...that's if I'm lucky. Mostly I wake up several times throughout the night from the pain and inability to sleep through it. I have an expensive mattress, a wonderful pillow and raised hips (if that cushion doesn't slip from my knees). What else do I have? Well, big boobs.

Yep, to all those people who claim to want what I have, trust me, you don't. The pain that I have been feeling over the past 20+ years is ridiculous. Of course, I didn't realize that this is what was causing it and it has gotten significantly worse over the past 5 years.

I am in my early 30’s, 5’7”, around 190 lbs and Canadian. I am a 32J (UK sizing) and it’s killing me. Although, over the past few years I have managed to find clothing and bras that happily fit my bust, I knew that I had to look into getting breast reduction surgery. So that’s what I did. I’m 7 days away from having them reduced and hopefully taking the pain away with it.

6 Days To Breathe

Under Canadian healthcare, I am apparently entitled to have insured breast reduction surgery done anywhere in the country. Prior to moving to a new province, I was on a waitlist that was 3 years long. I hadn't even had a consultation yet. Well, in a matter of 90 days here, I managed to obtain a new doctor, go for a consultation with a plastic surgeon and have surgery scheduled. There was a bit of a delay in obtaining OHIP coverage but today I received word that my surgery is covered.

Naturally the speed at which this has all happened is throwing me for a loop. I've occasionally wondered if I should give myself a little more time to think about it. However, I am laying in bed while writing and I just realized how difficult it is to lay flat on my back. I can't breathe this way. This one thought makes me feel like I've made the right decision to go ahead with the surgery.

5 Days To Breathe

How I got to this point...A couple of months ago, I went to a new doctor and asked her if she could refer me to a surgeon for breast reduction. Less than a month later, I was sitting in the waiting room of a lovely office mentally preparing for my consultation.

About this office, the atmosphere is pleasant when you walk in, the staff instantly greets you and they have a little side area where you can speak about your situation (if you are not ready for the public to know). After a short wait of maybe 10 minutes (and I know I was early), I was called into a room. The resident surgeon came in to talk to me about my history. It was standard questions:

-Do you smoke?
-Do you drink?
-Any children?
-Any desire for children (yes, breastfeeding is not always possible)
-Prior medical history
-Etc.

After the question period, she gave me a gown, asked me to remove my shirt and bra, and put the gown on with the ties in front so that she could come back into the room to do a breast examination. I'm kind of glad that she reminded me to put the ties in front because I probably would have put it on like a hospital gown. When she came in, she was carefully about making me feel comfortable despite the fact that she had to touch me intimately. She also took measurements. Then she asked me to wait again.

Not more than 2 minutes later after a quick consult with the surgeon (I could here them in the hall although no personal info was exchanged), the plastic surgeon came in and introduced himself. He had a laptop with him and was typing my answers to his questions into the computer. He was kind, a little quiet but definitely had a sense of humour. When I was asking about complications, he said of course death is one and we had a bit of a laugh when I said that's not really something I am interested in. He asked all of my questions honestly and did give me the facts. I was quite happy that some of my questions were answered before they were even asked. The resident also gave me some information that the surgeon confirmed when he mentioned the same things. My one disappointment is that drains are used at this office and I have heard that they can be a little painful.

Because my breasts are so large, he said that the pain I am feeling, as well as the migraines that I get could be relieved by the surgery. I was well aware that any corrective liposuction to correct the auxillary breast tissue at the sides/armpit area is not covered by insurance. Although there is an extra cost, it makes sense to me to have them fix everything at once.

After his exam was done, I was told that I could get dressed and that the nurse would come on and speak to me about the actual surgery, process and price. When she came in, she gave me a paper with the pricing and told me that I could speak with the lady at the front about possible dates. Please note I never felt any pressure to book immediately. When I reached the front, I was told that I could book my surgery as early as February 9th.

4 Days To Breathe

12 minutes! Today it took me 12 minutes to put on my sports bra. Well, I actually had it on in less time but because the hook is in the back (it's a compression style that you put over your head and hook in the back to adjust the underbust band) I kept reaching behind to hook it and failed.

I started tearing up at one point because all I wanted was to put on my bra so that I could go to the gym. Needless to say, once I managed it, I lost interest in going at all. :(

3 Days To Breathe

Pre-op visits with the hospital and surgeon today.

When I arrived at the hospital, I took a number and went to waiting room 1. Approximately 25 minutes into my wait, my number was called and I went into an office where the lady asked for my contact information, health card and pre-op paperwork. I had been mailed a package from the surgeon's office that included detailed documentation stating before, during and aftercare, a consent form to mail back and pre-op paperwork to bring to the hospital. My doctor requested a urine sample, and conveniently I had to go so although I had until the end of my pre-op to take care of that, I decided to get it over with.

Afterwards, I was sent to waiting room 2. Basically as soon I sat down, I was called into a private room by a technician where it was requested that I remove my shirt so that I could have my blood pressure and an EKG done. For anyone (including myself) who has not had that done, all I had to do was lay on the bed while she attached a few 'stickers' to my upper body, then attached wires to those. It didn't hurt at all. I was asked for my height and weight, and then I was able to get dressed and go back to waiting room 2.

Another 10 minutes later, I was called into a different private room to speak with the nurse. She went over my medical history, asked me several questions about my daily habits, sleep, etc. I had to have a blood test as well.

Next up was a wait in the hall for the anesthesiologist. Wasn't a long wait at all. I was asked again about my medical history, issues with anesthetic and she listened to my heart.

Next up pay time. Such an expensive day. Although my surgery is mostly covered (and thank god for that), I still have to pay for the anaesthesiologist, the hospital fee and the liposuction portion. Oh, and don't forget the lovely $16 parking fee for today.

Luckily the surgeon's office is nice enough to schedule their pre-op on the same day. I was told just to head over after I was done with the hospital.

I headed over to see the surgeon's staff. Time to go over post-op care. Learned how the drains work as well what not to do (no showering until the drains are out, boo). Turns out that I will have a nurse coming by to help me with the drains, so at least that takes a little of the worry away.

2 Days To Breathe

Picture day! Ugh...As soon as I looked at the pictures that I took, I was struck with another reminder of why I am doing this. I have a relatively small waist, but no one knows that because I have to buy shirts that are a few sizes larger to fit my chest. It makes me feel overweight to see pictures of myself only because my chest is so dominating. I am definitely looked forward to being able to buy more button up shirts. I tend to dislike layering so I currently only own 2 button up shirts since naturally that means I would have to wear a cami underneath.

While I appreciate every one of you that has been willing and brave enough to share their pre-and-post op unclothed photos, at this time, I am only comfortable posting clothed photos. Hopefully after my surgery, I'll be more than happy to show the beautiful work that my surgeon has done (*fingers crossed*).

1 Day To Breathe

Do your boobs hang low? Do they wobble to-and-fro? Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow? Can you throw them over your shoulder, like a continental soldier? Do your boobs hang low?

Yup! That’s why I getting this done.

Today is prep day. I’ve spent the day preparing my meals for the coming week, laying out everything for post-surgery so it’s easily accessible, washing laundry.

This is a little morbid, but I also spent some time writing letters to people that are special to me. It is important to me to that these people know how I feel about them. I don’t expect anything out of the ordinary to happen, but you never know and I don’t want these things to go unsaid.

And...breathe

I am so hungry right now. It's snowing right now and I can't even catch snowflakes with my tongue because they contain water.

Seriously though, I'm not so concerned about the size that I end up with, but more so, I want to be able to breathe without pain in my chest. I don't want anymore back pain and I do not want to deal with any more migraines. Here's hoping I get what I need out of this surgery today.

Week 1

Surgery went well.

Registration was easy enough. Once I made it into the prep room, I was told to use the bathroom and then get changed into a gown. I was already wearing the compression stockings that were provided to me at my pre-op. I had my blood pressure checked and after a bit of a struggle to find a vein, the i.v. was inserted. This was the worst part of the wait because that's exactly what I had to do afterwards, wait. I got so bored staring at the ceiling. Eventually my doctor arrived and did the markings. I didn't bother trying to get a picture of them. Less than 5 minutes later, I was wheeled into the OR by a very friendly nurse.

Whilst in the OR, they told me each of the steps they were doing. I was given a mask and then medication in my i.v. I remember saying "It's working" and started counting down (made it only to 94 from 100).

Ultimately the best thing so far was when I woke up and started my deep breathing, I instantly felt the difference in my chest. The heaviness that I was used to was gone. I had asked for anti-nausea meds during my surgery but still managed to get a little sick. Otherwise my recovery room stay went well (ate some ice chips, had a little water, then some ginger ale). The biggest disappointment with my recovery time was that there was no one to check on me when they were ready to let me go. A nurse checked on me and suggested I try standing up. When I did, I got dizzy so she said she would help me try again in 10 minutes but that ended up being more than an hour later when she went to the patient next to me and said she couldn't leave because they just came out of surgery. ARG!

The ride home wasn't bad. I was prepared with 3 pillows, a warm blanket and a comfy sweater. I sat in the front, just in case I felt sick again. All I did was put on the waist part of the seat belt and wrap the shoulder strap behind my head. I had toast, crackers, soup and cranberry juice at home so far because I felt hungry as soon as I got up.

Sleeping was a chore. I think I was afraid of rolling over so I didn't go to bed until late that first night and didn't sleep much. Drains are going well though, not nearly as disgusting as I imagined and should only be in for a few days. One of the drains did keep inflating on its own but the surgeon wasn't too worried.

I went for my first dressing change at a nursing office the next day. Because I was soaking through on the left side and was not draining much on that side, I was going into the office everyday just to double check. Also saw the surgeon and got fitted for a surgical bra (Marena). So far it's comfortable. Since everything is going well, I don't have to go back to the surgeon's office for 2 more weeks.

Drains came out on Day 4 because the output on each side was less than 30cc's in a 24-hour period. It was a little uncomfortable, felt like a little bit of pressure but otherwise didn't hurt.

Day 5 was shower time! It felt so good to wash my hair but I was really nervous about my incisions even though I have waterproof tape on them right now.

Having a lot of crazy dreams, which I think are due to sleeping awkward and the pain medication, Tramadol. I was also feeling dizzy so I spent most of week 1 on the couch, occasionally walking around my house.

Week 2

I've finally built up the courage to look at them, but not the incisions underneath. Every time I apply the polysporin, I just don't like the feeling of the incisions. The surgeon did have to adjust the sizing of my areolas, so at the moment they look so small and strange.

I was done with the nursing care office after a week and am now taking care of the dressings myself. Struggling a little to figure exactly how to tape them up. I'm showering everyday now and applying polysporin to my breasts prior to the dressings. I have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon this week and I am hoping to hear if there is anything that I can do about the itchiness and soreness at my liposuction areas.

Had my first non-appointment outing and went for breakfast as my appetite seems to be back. I still ride around with a pillow as the bumps in the road seem to jar my body too much for comfort.

I was done my antibiotics and pain prescriptions at the beginning of week 2. I can't say I had any pain during that time from my breasts themselves, but I am definitely feeling the discomfort at the liposuction areas. I also know what everyone means by 'zingers'. It feels like getting a momentary electrical shock within your breasts.

Week 3

At my 2 week follow-up appointment the surgeon checked my incisions and told me I was free to do what I wanted. Meaning, baths, exercise (more on than later), work were all permitted. I no longer have to apply dressing and polysporin. Now I am to apply scar cream, twice daily. I was also told that I can go out and purchase regular bras but since I still have swelling not to go too crazy buying them because my size may still change. The only downside to this visit was being told that the swelling and pain that I'm feeling from the liposuction areas may not go away for up to 3 months. It’s not excruciating pain, but more like discomfort.

I have been sleeping on my sides since the end of the first week (although I still had pillows wedged at my sides). I have also caught myself waking up on my stomach. Again, not the most comfortable feeling, but I take the sleep as I can get it as I have been dealing with a little bit of insomnia.

Month 1

It's 1 month today and I know that I have to give it time but I feel like I'm a lot larger than I wanted to be. They feel like the same size, just reshaped. I don't know about anyone else, but I guess I expected to come out of this needing an entirely new wardrobe. I tried on one of my old bras and it seems like it still fit, with just a little bit of loose fabric at the top. I decided to hop on the scale and I am down 6.5lbs. It's good motivation to keep going. My doctor says he took 550g out of each side, that doesn't include the liposuction areas. It's weird because I can see the difference and feel it in my shoulders too, but I am hoping now that I am smaller that I can lose some weight through cardio and they will get smaller.

Month 3

3 months in and it definitely wasn't worth it at this point. I feel like I essentially paid $3500 for nipple reconstruction as that's the only part that has significantly changed.

The liposuction area is not different enough. Maybe it's because my breasts are wide but I feel like it should have been mentioned that it won't change drastically.

I am still fitting into most of my old bras. Definitely all the padded ones. I just full out the cups better now without overflow.

I see my surgeon again later this month and while my family doctor says that I should go smaller, I'm not certain how to broach this with him.

Month 6

I am now 6 months post-op and I will say without a doubt, the surgery was not worth it. My weight has changed for the better, but my breasts have not. Don't get me wrong, the results (scarring, shape) are great. I am glad that there was no major complications and I have reasonable symmetry so I would recommend the doctor for that. BUT, I would not recommend the surgery for what I was expecting, asked for and was told would be the result.

I do feel at this point that it was a huge waste of my time. I have the option of re-visiting the surgery in about a year's time, but at this point, I don't know what the cost will be. Do I really want to put myself through that for only another cup size difference? At my size! No way!

Make sure you have a good idea of what your results will be like before you put yourself through this. I will update at a year post-op.

1 Year Post-Surgery

I apologize to anyone who's wrote a response before to my 6-month review, I don't seem to be getting updates or notifications.

As it stands, one year post-surgery, I highly recommend that anyone considering getting surgery makes sure that they double and triple check with their surgeon about what they are looking for as a result. I did, but for whatever reason, I'm still only a size smaller. I've lost 20 pounds since so I'm not certain that weight loss will bring me to my reduction goal.

I am pleased with the shape of them, but still feel like the results just aren't worth the surgery at this point. I will be looking to get them further reduced in the future. Hopefully at that point I will have a happy update.
Hamilton Plastic Surgeon

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