46 Year Old's Experience With a Breast Reduction: 38H to 38D, $28,000 w/ Photos & Videos
46 Year Old's Experience With a Breast Reduction: 38H to 38D, $28,000 w/ Photos & Videos
I am a 46 year old, 5'5 female of average build. I began to develop breasts at an early age. Although my weight would fluctuate, I still maintained very large breasts. When I began my research for a plastic surgeon, I knew right away I wanted a surgeon who had a reputation for being good at breast reduction surgery.
Plastic surgery is something many women do not discuss or talk about. I believe there is some negativity relating to plastic surgery. What makes the process even more difficult, is finding someone who is willing to speak about their experience AND lives in an area that is relatively close to where you reside (option of finding a surgeon within proximity).
My concerns with this surgery were (in order of my concern): final results, cost and healing time.
Although I had considered this surgery several times in my past, it is scary. What would the healing time look like? What if I had no feeling in my breasts? What if too little or too much excess breast tissue was removed, resulting in ugly breasts (hasn't everyone watched the show 'Botched'?)? How much time would I need to be away from work? Would I need help from my family?
Finally, the health concerns began to matter greatly and I was on a mission. Due to two abdominal surgeries a few years prior, I began to have a lot of pain and physical discomfort in my rib cage area from my underwire bra. My breasts were a 38 H, (though I was cramming them into a 40 G because this size is easier to find)- the weight of my breasts on the underwire from my bra was creating pressure and pain on my upper rib cage. My medical physician recommended I ditch the underwire. So, I began wearing a bra that had no underwire. Not having this underwire resulted in my heavy breasts resting on my upper rib cage. I then began to have sweating and yeast infections. These infections began to become harder to clear up. Here I was, working professionally, and had to tuck wash clothes under my bra band to help with discomfort. How professional?
Between the sore back, bra, neck and infection issues, and the feeling of being horribly unattractive, I was ready for a change. My breast size was getting to be a major problem. The change I am speaking of is often a decision that does not come lightly - but when you are ready. You are ready.
If you are a modest person (as I was) the first consultation can be difficult - there is a lot of "breast handling" - the surgeon notes how large you are, how much tissue he believes should be removed, there are photographs taken (this was hard for me), and a lot of discussion about the procedure, the recovery time, the risks etc. Some of these procedures are covered by (or partially covered by) medical insurance, so there is quite a bit of medical documentation that takes place. There are three different incisions that can be made during breast reduction, due to my size and the large amount of tissue to remove, my surgeon recommended the Anchor Incision for my surgery. The incision pattern of the anchor technique results in cuts that resemble a ship's anchor. With this incision, they cut around the dark nipple area, straight down to under the breast and a half circle is then made under the breast that extends between the breasts and up under the arm pit. I knew this incision would take time to heal from.
After my visit, the surgeon stated they would submit everything to my insurance company and would be in touch. Often when an insurance company is approving this type of surgery, it can take up to 30 days for any type of response. My insurance approved this procedure within two days! The office called me back and stated they would schedule me for surgery... IT WAS HAPPENING! My surgery was scheduled at that time and they also scheduled tests that would need to be completed (a mammogram and blood work). They also scheduled my pre-op appointment and my first post-op appointment.
During my pre-op appointment, my surgeon discussed my pre-surgery care (like most surgeries, not to eat or drink, to shower twice, each time washing with anti-bacterial soap) - He also instructed me to buy an athletic bra that I would wear home, what physicial activity restrictions I would need to make and he gave me prescriptions for pain medication I would take at home after the surgery. He also instructed me to get vitamins A, C, & Zinc. We again discussed the risks and potential complications. I signed consent forms, and we talked about the incisions this reduction technique would entail and what I hoped to see in my final results. He told me we would discuss all these things again at the hospital.
Surgery day came and I arrived at the hospital early in the morning. The hospital staff got me washed down (again--- got to fight those germs), in a gown and place an IV in. My surgeon came in, he drew on my breasts with a marker and made a bunch of calculations on my body like a geometry class and again explained what I could expect and when he would be in to see me. We also discussed the size I wanted to be - like before, my surgeon explained he does not commit to a cup size. He said it commits to making you look good, and making sure you are in proportion. I think this is where it is very important to TRUST YOUR SURGEON!
My surgery was extensive due to the amount of excess tissue that needed to be removed. It was estimated that 6 pounds of tissue needed to be removed and I would need to stay at the hospital overnight.
I went in to surgery and woke up in my post-op room. I was wrapped tightly with bandages and had an IV drip of pain medication. And so...It was over and now it was time to start the recovery process. My surgeon came in to discuss my surgery. He informed me that he took 6 pounds of breast tissue and 2 pounds of surrounding glandular and fatty tissue from my back and the armpit area to make sure I looked "good" and not bulky. I would state this is a very important thing to discuss with your surgeon. He placed me in the sports bra and sent me home to rest. I was scheduled to see him two weeks later.
Recovery is recovery. I won't lie and say it was not painful, there was pain. Just not what I expected. The incisions really do not "hurt"- they sting. The breast tissue is sore, and this type of soreness changes day to day. The best way I have to describe it, is it feels like when your milk supply comes in after having a baby... very FULL and tight. My surgeon supplied me with a "mental healing chart"... this chart is something his office created to help assist you through your recovery period. You have a new body to get used to. You are sore. You are healing. Nothing looks like it will at the end of your recovery due to bruising, swelling, etc. The most important thing was REST.
I am now 4 weeks from surgery. My breasts are "settling in"- by that, I mean they are "dropping." After surgery, breast tissue is high on your chest wall. It is tight, bruised, misshaped- this changes as the breasts heal. The tissue gets softer and drops down into a natural position. The incisions begin to heal and soften. The whole process is just slow moving.
I believe it's important to say everyone's recovery is different. Other women who had this surgery stated they could not lift or use their arms. I can use and lift my arms. I have had more issues with finding a bra that offers the support needed and does not irritate the incisions. I have also found it is much easier to use nursing pads to cushion nipple incisions and not gauze (that can stick to your inclusions) - I think it is important to listen to your body. Rest. Have someone there to help you at least the first week. If you are working (even a desk job), I would recommend taking off 2 or even 3 full weeks. Again... listen to your body. This is your journey. We all heal differently.
I am happy with my decision. I do not have a final cup size yet as my breasts are still healing. Currently, I am wearing a bra that is comfortable and sized Small, medium, Large, etc. I am currently in a size Large-XL. My surgeons guess is that I will be a 38 D.
During this process I trusted my surgeon, even when I wasn't sure if I was going to have the best results. As stated above, find a surgeon you can trust!! This is the key! Be kind to your body and allow yourself to heal. We all heal at different speeds. Good luck in your journey.
I've attached 3 videos that many of you reading this might find helpful. They document my recovery process.
1) Recovery Day 3
2) Breast Reduction Recovery Day 8
3) Breast Reduction/ Post-Op Week 3 Before and After Pics/Incision Healing
For those of you wondering, insurance was billed roughly $28,000. This includes all pre-care and all follow-up care , visits, etc.
I am two weeks out from having breast surgery. I had breast cancer 2006 and did not want to have reconstructive surgery following my breasts surgeries because I was told by my physician that my type cancer would come back. With God’s hands I have been cancer free to date. I had a lot of scar tissue that had formed from the surgeries that caused me pain. Consulting with the physician that I feel was a God’s send for me, we decided to do reconstructive surgery to try and have as much normality as possible. I’m still experiencing quite a bit of discomfort two weeks out from this first reconstructive surgery. I’m excited and a bit scared. The one breast that I was having the most problems with looks quite a bit different than the other one. Both do not look like I was hoping for, but after reading your notes I have renewed hopes that in time things will begin to look better. I know it is going to take a while and there will more than likely be more surgeries, but God has graced me with his assurance that He will be with me and guide me and these wonderful doctors that he has brought me to. I had given up, I think now as I look back and did not even realize that I had. I feel a bit renewed and I feel that I can overcome this depression now. Thank you for putting this here for women to read and help them as I believe it has helped me. I’m going to re-read this when I finish my text just in case I missed something or misunderstood something. Again, thank you. I hope that I can be a source of inspiration and hope to others once I realize what I’ve gone through, how it has helped me physically and mentally and see the changes that I thought and felt were impossible for me. We all, each and everyone, need to not only hear or say but feel that with God all things are possible. With truly heartfelt thanks, Franka Bowen.