61yrs old .... Two Years Post-Op ... now almost 63yrs old !!
I have thought about this for decades (I am 60)...
Just hours to go until 9am tomorrow
Day of the Operation
My usually low blood pressure was taken (not surprisingly it was high) and I met with the anaesthetist who talked over my medical history (I am hypo-thyroid and take thyroxin) and my concerns (getting cold during surgery that I was assured would not happen). Mr Fatah came to see me and mark me up me ... I was naturally very anxious but knew I was happy with the decision I had made, the preparations I had taken and that it was time to stop thinking about it and do it.
I chose Mr Fatah because I wanted to avoid a General Anaesthetic ... I am 61 this September and, having lost my mother to dementia a few years’ ago, I wanted to reduce the risks of surgery as best I could but still go ahead and do this. I spent months researching the possibility of the procedure being performed in UK with local anaesthetic and IV sedation (it seems common in USA) and was about to give up before I found Mr Fatah. What followed next was an extraordinary day.
I walked into the theatre (wish I had remembered to pack my slippers) and everyone introduced themselves and told me what they would be doing ... I was surprised to see so many people all dressed for the occasion with (surgical) gloves and hats. I had watched several breast reduction operations on You Tube (without my glasses so that I did not see too much detail) so I knew what was going to happen i.e. my arms were lightly secured so that I did not waive them around, my body was kept warm, my lower legs were put in cuffs to maintain good circulation, the cannula was put in my hand (never realized they are plastic), a blue screen was put across the upper part of my chest and an oxygen mask was put over my nose to maintain the oxygen levels in my blood. There was a cool sensation in my hand and I drifted away ... it was like peacefully falling asleep. For the next 3hrs (just over) I felt absolutely no pain in my breasts and, during the operation, felt comforted by the fact that I was sometimes just conscious enough to know that I was surrounded by a team of people that there to take care of me.
I remember telling them about my blog, asking (more than once) how much longer it was going to take as if I was impatiently waiting for a bus, asking if I could to stretch/move my arms and legs a little and if someone would scratch my nose ... all the time feeling no pain or awareness of the life-changing procedure that was happening under my nose on the other side of a blue screen.
The last time I asked how much longer he would be (!) I remember Mr Fatah saying 20mins and then it was suddenly over. The screen was removed and I was asked if I wanted to see but I was too sleepy to focus although I remember watching Mr Fatah putting strips of white (rubber) fabric across my newly re-formed breasts (see photo). I will see them in one week’s time when the fabric comes off and that will give me time to get used to my very different profile.
I was carefully moved onto a trolley and must have fallen asleep again as the next moment I was in the recovery area being offered a drink. I remember being amazed, looking down, at the size of my breasts and how high they were ... just like those actresses in period dramas that I have often looked at and wondered how come they have such high breasts until they get older and then they have what can only be described as an ‘ample bosom’ in the words of their era.
Before leaving I had a blood thinning injection ... I was resistant but understood it was a precaution because I am over 60, hypo-thyroid and had just had an operation that lasted just over 3 hours. I also had to put on a pair of compression socks (but now hidden under a pair of jeans) and given a number to ring at any time (day or night) if I had any concerns. I have not as yet used it.
I walked into the Centre at 08:30 and walked out, pain-free, at around 2:15pm ... I kept saying it at the time but ... it was an extraordinary experience that flowed seamlessly. For the rest of the day I was totally alert and stayed overnight in a nearby hotel where I rested in bed and someone called me around 7pm to check I was OK. At 11pm I decided it was time to go to sleep although I don’t know how I managed to sleep propped up ... but I did.
I have to admit that I did not take any pain medication until 11pm because I was curious to see how painful it would be when the anaesthetic wore off (call me stupid) however ... I was surprised that I felt only discomfort and not what I would call pain. That said, I decided just to take 1 x 500mg paracetamol to take the edge off any discomfort before I switched off the light and went to sleep, still gazing down at my miracle of the day.
Now I am hoping for a healthy recovery ...
Day after the Operation (catching up the days so that I don't forget)
I had to agree that I do not know why I did not do it sooner but everything has its time and it is a big decision to take even when we are ready to take it. I am grateful that I will have small boobs for the rest of my years and it was the blog of a lady in her 70s that finally tipped the balance for me and gave me the last bit of encouragement I needed to move ahead ... I thought if she can do it in her 70s then I can do it in my 60s.
I went back to the Centre for a check up in the morning and my nipples are pink (good blood flow) so we drove back to Bristol (me with a pillow across my chest under the seat belt). I had a headache that persisted all day so I took four more 500mg paracetamols during the day and drank a lot of water.
The moment I got home I prepared a fresh juice (celery, cucumber, beetroot, raw turmeric, ginger and lemon). I usually juice every day and miss it when I don't. I am talking a high dose probiotic as I had IV antibiotics. I rub lavender oil and tea tree oil into the souls of my feet because it smells nice and I like nice smells.
Otherwise, I have not been in any pain although I am conscious of all sorts of feelings going through my breasts ... the right one more than the left one and I figure that is because I am right handed so I am trying to use my left hand more i.e. turn on taps, flush the loo etc. The feelings range from pins and needles, to short sharp stabs and all over tingles ... all very manageable. I notice them most when I move around i.e. stand after sitting or sit after standing however I have decided I prefer to move around as much as I can without tiring myself.
I do Chi Kung (a form of Tai Chi) so my legs are strong for squatting down to pick things up (without bending over) or I use my toes.
All in all I had a good day considering what I have just put my body through.
Still wishing my self a problem-free recovery ...
To-day - just 48hours after the operation
I have not taken any painkillers to-day and am sitting here with my juice (same old - celery, cucumber, beetroot, raw turmeric, raw ginger and lemon). I am annoyed that I have not been to the toilet today (sorry for the detail) but I am taking my probiotics to move things along. I am a vegan so it is not for shortage of vegetables.
To-day I am resting, typing this to occupy my mind and catch up with the days, watching the men's semi-finals at Wimbledon and routing for Federer now that Nadal has gone (or I would be routing for him). I am still in my PJs and don't plan to venture out for a couple of days. I want to have my hair washed on Monday and my next task is to ring and organise that as I don't think I will attempt to do it myself. There is a salon about 200m from me so not far to walk. I am babbling ... I can’t believe how normal I feel within the restriction of not wanting to push myself.
I had not appreciated how long the operation would take and I am filled with admiration for Mr Fatah and his team ... and of course ... myself. I forgot to add that when I first met Mr Fatah he asked me if I thought my boobs were the same size and it never occurred to me that they were not. But, when I stood in front of the mirror I realized one was slightly bigger than the other. He removed (if I remember rightly) 285gms from one side and 235gms from the other ... enough to make a huge difference on my tiny frame.
Otherwise, as ever, wishing for no complications ... one day at a time.
One day at a time
Because I had to have a blood thinning injection after the operation I am aware of the extra risk, however great or small, of a localized blood clot (hematoma) so this morning I decided my right breast has swelled up bigger than my left although I am not in pain and I would expect it to be throbbing if so. It is so difficult to tell as I know that inflammation is part of the healing process and each of my breasts will go through its own process independently of the other.
Anyway, for my own peace of mind, I rang the nurse at the Westbourne Centre (I have a 24hrs number) and sent some photos that she showed to Mr Fatah who expressed no current concerns. I don't want to obsess (easy to do) so I will check every morning and evening to see how it goes over the next few days ... my follow-up appointment is on Wednesday (my next milestone).
Otherwise, yesterday the bruise is came out where the cannula went in and it is much reduced over-night ... I imagine my boobs look similar underneath the dressing.
Remarkable that it was only three days ago ...
What a difference a day makes
I decided to put on a wash and found, in the basket, the 30G bra I last wore. I held it up, looked down, and put it up against my breasts. I would need thick winter woollen socks to fill it out now and that put a big smile on my face. I remembered how, when I was a child, my friends and I used to joke about putting socks down our fronts to pad ourselves out and look more grown up ... little knowing that when our breasts did start growing they would never stop!
My breasts, under the strapping, look their normal newly formed size with no additional swelling. The sensations continue ... sharp little stabs, tingling and shooting feelings.
Pain to-day, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being high, I would rate as a 1. I only took one 500mg paracetamol yesterday before I went to sleep.
However, I know my mind and body have been through a huge trauma and it is still early days ... so one day at a time.
I am counting down again ... this time for the bandage to be removed
I know what to expect, thanks to all your photos, however I anticipate feeling really emotional when I see my own scars for the first time. That said, no one seems to have had an issue with that side of things and we all know it’s part of the deal.
2 days to go before I see my scars ...
However, at the moment, they look better clothed than undressed and look odd, swollen and a bit lop-sided ... but I will give them overnight to settle before and then take some photos.
Not sure how I feel about them at the moment ...
After being compressed under a bandage for a week in July (hot and sweaty) there was no bruising on my breasts (surprised me) but purple bruising underneath on my ribcage where the bandage had been digging in. They are as solid as a rock (also surprised me) and swollen (not a surprise); quite flat along the bottom and different from each other. I was nervous of showering so I sat in a shallow bath.
To-day I felt more confident and took a shower with my back to the power shower head so that I did not blast off the steri-strips. They still look very weird to me and I will have to trust that time and gravity will do its thing and make them more rounded and less boxy as the swelling goes down.
It is taking me time to want to look at them ...
On the plus side I feel increasingly energetic and walked up to the allotment to pick sweet peas that smell divine ...
Waking up in the night
Yesterday I found that the most comfortable bras I have are some old 32FF sports bras (one size bigger than my 30G day bras to enable me to exercise). But my frame must be swollen as I had to make two one inch cuts in the bands to be able to breathe without feeling constricted ... I always hated that felling. The bras pretty much fit me perfectly, over a very fine silk camisole, so the amount of swelling must be almost equal to the amount of the reduction (285gms and 235gms)
Naked, my breasts sit much higher on my body but, rather than being longer, appear shorter and wider with a flat bottom. I understand these are early days, what is important is the end result and that they will start to change over the coming weeks and months.
I now I will look back thinking it was so worth it as I did not enter into this with my eyes closed ... it is the 'in between time' it takes to get there.
My rib cage has definitely swollen (unexpected).
I tried on the Royce bra a month ago and the 32 (smallest band width they do) fitted perfectly without stretching ... now it is tight but I think the 34 will go baggy. The 32F fits me best (largest cup size they do!) so it will be interesting to see what happens when the rock hard swelling goes down.
I am hoping to realistically reduce from a 30G to a 30E i.e. at least two full sizes or it is not worth going through this.
Feeling much better
I am now comfortable taking a shower (sounds daft) and my breasts are starting to soften (a little). I still have dark bruising under my right breast where I think the compression bandage was digging in and my right rib cage is still sore on the same side. My tummy is swollen (bloated) so I think the best thing for me is to walk although I look forward to being able to go swimming ... does anyone have any idea how long I will have to wait to swim ... I know it will be a while.
All said, I have not inspected the incisions and can't easily see the ones underneath, especially the one under my right breast that is sore. I have decided to go to my GP surgery next Wednesday to ask the nurse to take off the steri-strips and check the wounds are healing OK.
With a much lighter step I am off to pick sweet peas and walk around the allotments ... my sister and I have two where we grow vegetables and flowers.
Image - the day the compression bandage came off
Vulnerable Scary Moment
Hoping all will be OK with a little care and attention ...
What a Relief
I am glad that I have an acute sense of smell ... useful in knowing that my right breast did not smell right ... but they are much higher and closer to my nose now! I am bathing my boobs 3 times a day in boiled salty water with a couple of drops of tea tree and lavender added in before getting out the hairdryer to dry them off.
A pair of very pampered breasts ...
Disappointed - On Antibiotics
Far More Stressful than I ever imagined
In contrast, my right breast is still bruised and my right rib cage is still sore to the touch; it is still as hard as a rock but hopefully, with the antibiotics that are giving me a headache, the incision underneath is healing.
I realize it is only 16 days but it is not going according to plan and is starting to wear me down ...
Slept on my side!
3weeeks' ago to-day
Yesterday I had the dressing off righty and the nurse said it is much improved ... just waiting for the T junction to close up now ... she put on another dressing until Friday. The nurse was impressed with the stitch-work and said she wished she had the courage to do it ... how many women are there wishing they could take that first step? Meanwhile I am going to see Mr Fatah tomorrow (Thursday 24th July) for a check-up.
The left breast is still the perfect patient ... the right one just needs to catch up
The things we discover about ourselves
BUT, and interestingly, he told me that I have Symmastia ... 'a rare condition in which the breasts come together at the centre of the chest and merge together in a weblike manner. Symmastia can be a congenital condition that is occurs from birth (as in my case) or can result from breast augmentation or other chest surgery. I was so amazed that I forgot to ask him if that was why surgery took much longer than I anticipated ... will ask him next time. However, looking at the images of before and now ... I can see that my breast are further apart than they used to be i.e. always have been.
The things I have learnt about myself that I never knew before ... first that I had one breast bigger than the other and now that I was born with weblike breasts!
Micropore tape and sutures
It did not peel off easily and, as it came off, it pulled out little black sutures around my nipples. Short panic (waiting to see if I fell apart or started bleeding - did not) and then I figured they must have dissolved under the skin so I was just pulling off the exposed tops.
Did not expect that and had a few zingers but to-day I am good ...
I have turned a corner (figuratively speaking)
I started massaging 5days ago (Rosehip Oil with Lavender and Helichrysum Italicum) and I cannot believe how much my breasts have softened. The bruising has come out on my right breast and the space in between them ... that makes sense now that I know they are inter-webbed with no clear separation. I was nervous at first but have thrown caution to the wind (within reason) and am massaging them at least four times a day. My right breast still feels like it has a rock deep inside it but what an improvement ... suddenly I am feeling that I am on the home straight. And, I have finally started sleeping through the night ... two nights in a row now without waking up.
Times like this are very uplifting ... SO GLAD I DID THIS in spite of the scary vulnerable moments.
That said, they still look a bit odd to me (!) ... it will be interesting to look back in a month or two.
The bruising on my right breast has almost gone. Both breasts, but particularly my right one, are very swollen on the inside bottom quarters. I am developing a little dog end at the end of the incision on my right breast as it drops; but not on the left side. I can't believe how differently they have responded to surgery.
A big scab came off with the tapes to-day from the junction of my nipple and vertical line downwards on my right breast ... I guess they come off when they are ready leaving pink skin underneath.
Both breasts feel heavy but they are softening with oil and massage - I am using rosehip oil with lavender and helycrysum essential oils. I don't think I will be going bra-less at the end of this story and I predict I will end up a 30DDD or UK 30E ... time will tell if I am right. That would put me back to the size I was in my 20s ... I have put on 7lbs since then and I guess one of those lbs went into my breasts.
Isn't it strange how, for some of us, our breast just keep on growing ...
How much swelling could there be?
How much of this could be swelling at 4 weeks post-op?
Wearing my old 30G bra
I hope, at 4 weeks, there is still a significant amount of swelling.
I tried on bras from manufacturers I would have previously worn and I am a 30F across the board.
Could not squeeze myself into a 30E (my ideal size) so I will just have to wait and see if the swelling takes me down over the next month or so.
Good news is not that I can now wear a wider band (I will never have to wear a 28 again) as I do not need to haul myself up and into a bra ... but I guess strap indentations will remain a part of my life.
30F is an improvement on 30G but a 30E would be far better on me so fingers crossed ...
Week 4-5 - the scabs have all fallen off
My breasts are still swollen and blotchy with dark bruising, white patches and red areas ... they are getting there ... slowly. I can still feel a hard lump inside the right breast that is developing a dog ear at the outer edge of the incision underneath where I have a small hard nodule that is painful to push ... could it be a knot at the end of the stitches?
I have realized they look a much better shape if I put back my shoulders ... not something I am used to doing, but they still look very boxy to me at the moment ... see how they are in a couple of months' time.
Good to remind myself how I looked 5 weeks' ago as it is easy to forget.
I am amazed at the slow but steady changes that are happening every week at the moment ...
Week 5-6 - Challenging Week
KarinvdW sent you a private message on RealSelf
Week 6-7 - Update
What most amazes me at the moment is that I figure my breasts have moved at least an inch up my body giving me an extra inch on my belly. I tried on a dress and figured that it did not suit me because my breasts are still so high ... that is a first.
Is it scar tissue along the line where the tissue is sewn tightly together?
Does it eventually soften to feel like normal breast tissue?
If so, does it take months or years?
Or does it always remain hard?
Good Meeting with Mr Fatah
It appears that scar tissue has formed inside my right breast, which is pulling down that breast and explains why it feels so tight when I lift up or swing my right arm out.
Solution is that I go away for 8 months (in the nicest possible way) to see how it settles down. If not I will have a revision to cut out the (or any residual) scar tissue .
I will also decide at that time if I want to go smaller by one more size or if I am happy with the final result. Would I go through it again? Sure I would if I decide I want to.
Any suggestions for relieving the scar tissue in addition to lots of massage and stretching? I would start swimming every day but I don't like heavily chlorinated pools as they make my skin dry and itchy.
Almost 12 weeks post-op and I don't know where the time has gone ...
My right breast continues to be a pain and I spend time each day doing the 'Usain Bolt pose' in an attempt to stretch the scar tissue that is still really tight ... when I try to stretch it through massage it just aches.
Otherwise, yesterday, I was in John Lewis and asked one of the ladies to fit me for a bra ... we ended up agreeing that I am a 30F (despite my trying to squeeze myself into a 30E without success) and so, at the moment, my reduction is from 30G to a 30F despite over 3hrs of surgery and the removal of 285/235gms ... I still can't figure that out. I would love to have gone that extra size as I still feel big on my 30inch frame when I look down.
My bra size has not changed in the past 8 weeks (from a 30F at 4 weeks post-op) so I figure my breasts are not going to get smaller without further human intervention. I have been wondering if liposuction in one year's time would take me down a size rather than further surgery.
However, that is all a long way off and I have plenty of time to consider my options then if and when I have to have scar revision surgery.
Right now I am packing up my home to move into a new house in October ... plenty to occupy myself with for the time being.
16 weeks post-op and truly worth it ...
My only regret is that I have only reduced from a 30G to a 30F so I feel that I still have large breasts for my frame. That said, they are higher, better proportioned and far more comfortable to live with. I don't believe they will get any smaller and I would like to have been a 30E.
In the past month my right breast has really softened and the rock solid areas are slowly growing smaller; my left breast did not have any healing issues and was the ideal patient.
The scars are slowly fading and I have been careful to oil the incisions twice a day.
The jury is still out on whether I would decide to have revision surgery to make them another size smaller and that is next year's decision.
How time flies ... six months after surgery
8 months post-op this week
One Year Post-Op - The Difference a Year Makes!
I am really glad that I had a breast reduction. It has made such a big difference to my life and my confidence ... would do it all again in a flash.
All the best to everyone out there going through the same process.
When I decided to go ahead with breast reduction surgery my challenge was finding the right surgeon. I spent weeks trawling the internet to learn about what was involved and watching videos on You Tube. At the end of my research I decided to look for a surgeon in UK that would perform the procedure with local anaesthetic and IV sedation. It was easy to surgeons in US, where it appeared to be the norm, but everyone I contacted in UK told me it was impossible. Then, just as I was about to give up, I found Mr Fatah. When I met Mr Fatah he struck me as a quiet and gentle man who did not try to influence my decision either way. He answered my list of questions and addressed my concerns. I instinctively felt that I would be in safe hands and that the outcome would be in keeping with my height and frame. I booked the surgery date and gave myself a further two months to continue my research, consider the risks (I am over 60) and prepare myself. Of course I was nervous but, when the day finally arrived, it went incredibly smoothly and I was delighted with such a quick and painless recovery as a result of local anaesthetic and IV sedation. As a private patient I paid £GB5,600 that is around $US9600. I don't know if Mr Fatah operates on behalf of the NHS with GP referral. My post-op recovery is now in progress ... update to follow on the final outcome.