At the moment, I'm not 100% sure what size my...
At the moment, I'm not 100% sure what size my breasts are. I'm a UK size 10 with a side of 'squished in boobs' in a lot of clothing. I have bras that range from 32ff to 34ff (some 34f's, 34e's). I'm not entirely convinced any of them fit me properly but the closest (34ff) digs in at the front of my arms, but otherwise is a near fit. After a very traumatising instance in my youth at a bra fitting I'm highly reluctant to give into any store sizing opportunity. I know precisely what makes a good-fitting bra, it's just that my breast asymmetry (and desire for straps that don't take up half my shoulders) make that extremely hard. Regardless they are large and I am tired and my back is tired and the constant need to try fix the constant pain in my back is wearing thin. I'm exhausted.
As far as 'the process' goes, I'm in the very early stages. I'm looking at costing and surgeons and trying to figure out the best way to pursue my goal of no longer being the girl with the big boobs. It's become a defining part of me and that's not something that makes me happy. Over the past couple of months I've been on real self religiously, reading stories, trying to figure out if this is really something I want to do. The answer is yes, so I guess my story begins here.
Still very, very pre-op.
12 Dec 2015
11 months pre
One of the precursors of me being able to have the surgery with financial support from my family was that I went to the doctors first to see if there were any other problems with my back. I'm in near constant discomfort. As often, there's outright pain. Per my family's wishes I've gone to the Doctors and have thus been referred for bloodwork and X-Rays. The doctor didn't suggest it could be my chest, but I suppose from a medical standpoint it's a process of elimination.
Meanwhile, I've been putting in enquiries. I'm trying to make sense of why there are companies like MyBreast and Harley Medical when they refer to hospitals that you can often contact directly. Does anyone have any experience with them? As I'm reluctant to go the NHS route (I haven't seen anyone with a good story about going that path that hasn't taken YEARS) I'm looking at private. My initial looks guessed at around £5500 for the surgery. The place I looked into has said 6250. It's relatively local and has glowing reviews.
The longer I go through this the more resentment I have at my body how it is. My breasts feel constantly in the way, heavy, irritating. I keep seeing myself in photos and videos and feeling as though my entire torso is boob. It's ridiculous because I know it isn't, but it's hard to change the way I'm wired.
I guess from here I have my bloods, get the X-Rays, then pursue meeting with a consultant. Once I know I'm definitely going ahead with the surgery, I'll put up some before photos. In the meantime I'm keeping up on many, many of your stories!
Finally adding a 'Before' Picture.
My last post was six months ago. After some things went a little awry at the start of the year, I've been waiting and working towards this goal.
As mentioned before, I don't know my bra size. As you can see there is a HUGE difference in size, and honestly I think this is the biggest source of my anxiety. I'm so self conscious all the time. My under-bust measurement is 30cm, I'm not a tiny person, but my boobs are definitely far, far, far too big for my frame. This photo actually makes me so sad, which is why it took me so long to post this up. I know from a previous cancer scare that my breast tissue is very dense, so these are heavy. I'm fairly confident which hospital I want to use, I'm just deciding between two surgeons, and given how much consultancy fees are, I want to be certain before i start any further progression.
One small silver lining is that saving is going well. My back still sucks, though.
Finally booked a consultation.
After months of sort of avoiding the issue I've just booked a consultation for next month with Dr Orla Austin, so I guess this is the first real step forwards. It's really hard to research local surgeons, so it took me a while to make a decision. I just hope I leave the meeting with the same confidence!
Finally... The Consultation
Today I finally had the consultation. The TL;DR version is that I've booked in for November, so there'll be no surgical updates until that date.
I met with Orla Austin at the Methley Park Spire Hospital in Yorkshire. Early on in the process, I decided I wanted to go with Spire. Something about it just felt right with me, and I tend to put a lot of faith in my instincts when it comes to things like that. I looked around at a few hotels, but just kept coming back to them. As it happens, more recently a friend of mine mentioned family had surgery (of other kinds) at the hospital and the level of support and service they received was second to none, so!
I chose Orla after reading up on a number of surgeons. Researching surgeons isn't as easy in the UK, but her history of working with reconstructions for patients who've dealt with cancer was a big motivator for me. Breast surgery seems to be quite a prominent part of what she does.
We actually got there a few minutes late; there was a problem on one of the roads. Ms Austin was fantastic about it though. She'd popped out in scrubs, greeted us briefly, then I had to fill in a quick form before I headed in.
My consultation opened with her asking me a few questions. Why are you here? How old are you? What bra size do you wear? There were also some questions about my medical history and of any problems with my breasts. She was quite thorough, which I appreciated, and there was no point where I felt she was putting words in my mouth.
After that, we went behind a curtain and she took some measurements. She used a tape measure to judge what the differences were, what changes would be made. She did suggest that if I wanted to, if I was happy with my left breast, we could do a singular reduction. However, at this stage, I'm confident I want to be substantially smaller overall. She asked what kind of sizing I was thinking of, and I said something closer to a C cup. She did suggest it might be more a C/D, but I do think I would be happy with that. She was very straight forwards and honest throughout the consultation.
My biggest problem - she said - would be the scars. I'm extremely pale (lightest foundation in any brand pale) and so my scars will likely be very pink and have a greater potential to be raised. Scar management has to be my big priority. I'm okay with that, and my intentions were as such regardless.
I'll be having the keyhole surgery with dissolving stitches. I'll spend a night in the hospital after surgery in the morning. The next morning drains will be removed and I'll be discharged. The operation is performed under General Anaesthetic. During aftercare I'll be expected to wear a soft-cup wireless bra with plenty of support (but not something binding). If anyone has had similar instructions and has recommendations, please let me know!
She was happy to facilitate some of my mum's questions as well - which were mainly centred around breastfeeding and whether I will need someone around for the first 24 hours (my mum is keen on me staying with them for the first day). I wrote a list of some questions but I didn't need to ask most of them. She was concise and somehow got everything in I could possibly ever need to have asked.
There likely won't be too much to update until November, but I'll let you know if there is any new information!
So I had my pre-op Friday morning, and that was a ride.
I made it there on time (cue applause) and without too many traumas. Walked in just as my nurse came to see if I'd arrived early.
First of all my nurse was lovely, I cannot fault any of the staff at this hospital so far!!!
We went into a consultation room, she reviewed the details on the paperwork submitted, asked a few questions, clarified the procedure then explained the tests that needed doing.
The list: blood pressure (I hate those cuffs), urine test (they have funnels now, finally!!), blood draw/test (just the one vial) and three MRSA swabs. Of course it'd be the groin swab the day before waxing, sobs!!
Thus far I haven't heard anything, but she did say that they would be in touch if there were any problems.
I have a low iron count (borderline anemic but not actually anemic) which seemed to momentarily cause concern but nothing too much.
However I have a cough/cold and I've had it a while and while I think i'm at the tail end of it i'm now super anxious because it's basically a case of if I still have it they won't be able to do the surgery, and i'm pretty sure i'm gonna have a fully fledged meltdown over it.
I'm sure everything will be fine (and that the pharmaceutical industry is making a killing off of me and bloody cold & flu tablets) but right now it's a stress. ARGHHHH.
Argh. It could just be 1am craziness but did anyone else become hyper aware of their breasts in the lead up to surgery?? Like, my boobs aren't usually a problem at all but they've been super itchy this past couple of days. Going insane!!!!
Today's the Day
15 Nov 2016
Day of treatment
I don't wake up at 5.30 very often, so needless to say I was in a complete state of shock when I did. As per my arrangement with my family, I stayed at my parents, which meant not only was I waking up at an unfamiliar hour, it was an unfamiliar room too.
Following instructions from the hospital, I drank my single, lonely cup of water (it's been ninety minutes and I already feel like a prune. moisturise meeeeee) and then hopped in the car with mum to get to the hospital. We headed in at half six (ow) and sat for quite a while waiting to be officially checked in. I mostly wanted to sleep, and my mum was incredibly antsy.
A little while later the nurse came in to give me theatre clothes - knickers, gown, compression socks. She gave me a white wristband for ID and a red wristband for my allergies, as well as a cup to pee in for the mandatory pregnancy test.
Shortly afterwards the anaesthesiologist came by to introduce himself. He was friendly, helpful. He asked some routine questions about when I last ate, what I'd drunk, if I'd been under before. He explained some of the drugs and the side effects, the protocol after surgery. Mostly it came down to walking around plenty after the surgery, throughout recovery to avoid clots. He put the instruction down to give me some paracetamol to help pain management ahead of time.
The nurse came back as Dr Austin came through. Dr Austin chatted through the procedure again and took measurements, drawing the lines for the procedure. I liked how thorough she was in her measurements and how she checked them over repeatedly, before confidently asserting that they were correct. The nurse finished up her last few questions and Dr Austin told me it wouldn't be too long. I'm scheduled in for around 10am, so we will see!!
That's pretty much my update so far. I'll post the next update ASAP!
First thoughts Post-Op
15 Nov 2016
Day of treatment
Trying to get as much down as I can. Photos haven't gone up so will post those later.
They took me through at 9.45, and I was in the room with the anaesthesiologist. I can't remember all the names, but the three people present were really warm and friendly. They put me completely at ease by chatting and distracting me from what was going on. They put the line in my hand (not my favourite feeling) and then started loading me up with the good stuff. I was watching the clock turn, and then all of a sudden, click. Easy. Painless. If you're afraid of going under, don't be. It was so easy.
After surgery I woke up in the recovery room. A nurse was taking my blood pressure and checking in on me. I had an oxygen mask on and they let me know they'd be taking me back to my room. I think - although i'm not certain - that it was around 1pm. (I'm writing this at twenty to four). After a few more checks, I was wheeled back to my room to sleep. Mostly I was excited to drink again. I drink about a litre in a morning alone, so my mouth had gone full on Sahara. My teeth, nose and throats feel fine, and honestly my breasts are just at a level of discomfort.
They brought food a little after four (I was hangry) and so I got to tuck into a sandwich, salad, cup of tea, orange juice and ice cream. I had a bit of a hot flush moment so I ate the ice cream first and ditched the covers! I managed to pee a little after which felt good - I needed to pee almost right after surgery.
It's 17.30 and I have the tv on in my room. I'm drifting in and out of sleep. I'm expecting my parents to visit in about an hour. Will probably post the next update tomorrow!
(Should've been on previous post!!)
I went to sleep at around 10pm after having a minor moment earlier in the evening. I took myself off to the toilet only for my blood pressure to completely bottom out while I was on the loo. I was escorted back to bed by the lovely night nurse Melissa and she got my BP back up to normal. (It's generally pretty low as it is).
I slept mostly through the night. I only remember waking up for my BP / boob and drain check at around 2am. I know it was done more than then, but I was pretty conked out! I woke up at 5.30 and aside from a few naps, I've mostly been awake! My drains were emptied last night and this morning. I had some slow release morphine (I think??) last night as well as paracetamol, which is what I'd prefer to rely on!! Dr Austin is due by soon.
Ms Austin dropped by and checked in on me. She was happy with everything and authorised them to remove my drains etc. She explained that the tissue in my right (larger) breast was very dense and so they moulded it into the new shape. I wasn't particularly surprised. I knew that breast was a lot heavier.
I had breakfast, they removed the drains (not pleasant but not as bad as expected and sent me on my way). I'm a lot comfier than expected. My chest feels tight and achey.
I've been home since ten, had about an hour to 90 minutes of sleep. I'm planning to be in bed from 10pm. I have paracetamol and ibuprofen to take throughout the day, and i'm planning to take as instructed today / tomorrow and then as needed from then onwards. My nipples are a good colour and I think I have some sensation. I held my old bra up against myself when I got home and I'd say there's 4ish cup sizes difference? I need to go get a wireless soft supportive bra for next week, preferably front close but I think I could handle any lounge bra! Honestly it's all still very surreal. I'm just trying to keep moving without doing too much!!
Day 1 Photos
Just to show how I've been strapped up!
One Week Later
So we're one week on and I am truly thankful to report that the week has been uneventful.
I spent Wednesday night and Thursday night at my parents, had a friend stay with me Friday night and then was fully independent Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
I've reduced my pain medication from '2x 500mg paracetamol' four times a day and '1x 400mg ibuprofen' three times a day. First reducing the ibuprofen from three to one before bed, then gone altogether by Saturday. Then by reducing paracetamol to three times a day, then two times a day, then one half-dose in the morning and one at night to having none at all today. I'm feeling (thus far) a lot better than expected.
Today was the day many of you go through - the day the bandages come off. Mine was predominantly medical tape that irritated the absolute crap out of me, so I was thrilled that today - finally - it was going to be gone.
It wasn't my PS that removed them, as she wasn't in the hospital today, but the nurse that did so was friendly and warm and reassured me that everything was great, encouraging me to stand and look at them. Needless to say they're a little worse for wear, but remarkable nonetheless and they're mine.
She helped me into the 32DD sports bra (which is little big on the left) and gave me the general advice. I could shower but only let water run over them, gently pat the strips dry.
I'm back next week when I should be seeing My PS for the strips changing, but I was more than happy with the nurse who saw me. I'm cleared to drive, but she suggested that I'd feel more comfortable if I waited a little longer, which I do intend to do! However it's nice to know that if there's an emergency I have some freedom.
So ladies, photos!!!!
Today marks two weeks since surgery, and let me just say it doesn't feel like it happened.
That's a strange one, right?
I stopped taking painkillers altogether early last week and haven't taken any since. I've been living in sports bras and enjoying my last days of freedom before I head back to the office!
There's the occasional shooting pain or twinge, but thus far I've had nothing unmanageable. All the steristrips were taken off today so we're into the gnarly stage of healing, the part where we have to do scar massage. Any kind of pressure feels scary but I'll get the hang of it! Today's is done and out of the way!!
All in all I wouldn't think twice about this procedure if I needed it again, thus far it's been manageable, no more frustrating than laser was for my eyes quite a few years back.
Week Three - Photos
There's not all too much more to comment at the moment. I haven't figured out a standardised bra size just yet, but an M&S 32D seems to fit me quite well. It's surreal being able to essentially walk into any shop, point at a bra and say 'I want to wear that one!!' And to know it will probably fit.
I'm now feeling more motivated than ever to get the rest of my body into shape. My boobs were always an insecurity/problem with exercise, So, now they're not I'd like to get myself into my own best shape! ANYWAY, photos!!!
Four weeks / 'a month'.
So there's not all too much to add to the update, I think I mentioned last week that I bought a 32D bra from Marks & Spencer's (The Rosie collection) for my work party. I have a few painful points where I think the stitches are rejecting, but that's pretty much the worst of it. Honestly half the time it doesn't feel like it's happened!
I do keep reflexively standing and leaning in a way that would usually have cracked my back, but there is no more crack!!!!
Week five: photo update
Little to say re: healing. Occasional discomfort but pain is generally moderate. Some slight asymmetry but barely noticeable in person and swelling isn't necessarily entirely gone yet! Had quite a few stitches poking through but they've all gone on their own. Woo!
8 Weeks Later - Photos
10 Jan 2017
2 months post
Review / update to follow!!!
8 Weeks Update (and a summary)
15 Jan 2017
2 months post
So, here we are, well over 8 weeks later (closer to nine now I'm finally writing this) and I'm at a point where it makes sense to write a little more of an update! I know the photos jumped from weeks 5 - 8, but as you can see in my case not all too much had changed in that time outside of the development of the scars.
I've been extremely fortunate in that my healing process has been smooth - about the best I could've hoped for. I spent two solid weeks away from work, returned intermittently for the third, and by 3.5 weeks later I was at my first solid event day.
The important thing for me was reading my body and understanding it. For the first few days I was drained, I was struggling, I was sore. Normal tasks were harder, and figuring out the best / easiest way to get dressed was an art-form in itself. As the weeks passed by it got easier and easier and I was able to more or less move as normal with some limited range of motion towards the higher extension of my arms.
Basically, if something felt like it was pulling or wasn't 100% comfortable, I stopped. There was no point in me hurting myself or limiting my recovery just for the sake of doing something that was a menial task. I recognised my limits and respected them, which I think really helped me in recovery.
Again, I want to emphasise this was my experience, and I've been very lucky in that. I've also been very fortunate in that my surgeon was extremely helpful with guidance and gave me rules to follow, but also the ability to do things I wasn't expecting - such as wear an underwired bra for my staff party for a few hours. I found my guidelines were strict, but equally lenient.
The most important thing she emphasised was the scar massage, and so I've been vigilant. It was difficult at first, because everything was so tender, but as time went on it got a lot easier to manage. I used e45 per her suggestion, as she mentioned Bio Oil was for scars, not wounds. When I had my 8 week follow-up she said everything looked better than anticipated, which was definitely a plus! Hopefully we're going to keep going onwards and upwards.
Sometimes I get aches and pains and zings, but that was all that I expected. The cold weather is bad enough that it has exacerbated them quite a bit! Still, I'm building a new collection of cute bras and celebrating the fact I no longer feel that my boobs are my definition!
I want to emphasise that there are good days and bad days. I'm still a woman with body insecurities. Some day I look at my reflection and they're too big, others they're too small and my ass is huge. This surgery will change your life but it won't be immediate, and it won't be every day. I imagine my updates from here on our will be monthly at best, and likely mostly photos, but I wish all of you the best in your journeys!