1-Year Post-Op Breast Reduction Surgery Anniversary
February 10, 2017 marks exactly 1 year since my nerve-wracking, but long-awaited decision of getting a breast reduction/lift surgery.
I’ve read other women’s blogs retelling their experiences while they decided to and then experienced their breast reduction surgery and recoveries, and many seem to have been much easier and faster recoveries than mine was. 😕
I had a severe allergic reaction to the steri-strip tape used to cover my incisions. Extremely severe; probably one of the worst my plastic surgeon had ever seen, and it hindered my recovery by months.
I couldn’t run anymore, do yoga, or work out in general because it seemed like every time I did, a new problem would arise. The problem wasn’t always because I worked out or overexerted myself, it just always happened to take place when I would. It did become a little depressing, to say the least.
I gained weight during my extended recovery–because, although I wasn’t working out, I didn’t change my eating habits, which are that of a teenage boy. (Managing a Food Truck park as part of your job doesn’t help, either!) I lost 2.8 lbs. of breast tissue, but I’ve gained about 5 lbs. back. People usually roll their eyes at me about this but take into consideration that I’m only 4’11” tall, and 5 lbs. on me is like 20 lbs. on a “normal-height” person. But anyway, I have finally, fully recovered and now I can focus on working on the rest of myself :). (Well, when work and family life lend me the opportunity!)
I still have sudden twitches of pains in my breasts, but nothing severe. It happens mostly at night, when I wake up with soreness after sleeping on my sides and squishing my boobs 😕 . But I feel like they’ve “settled” in nicely, although they’re softer than I would have imagined, but they are crafted with my own skin tissue and fat, so, heh. It’s also nice to get home from work and not have to put up with wearing a heavy, underwire bra to relax. It’s even NICER to sit bra-less and not feel my large, heavy boobs touching the top of my stomach (gosh, how I hated that!). 😡
I hadn’t had any weird occurrences, like when I’d go for a walk or run and feel this insane itchiness on my side-boob incisions, and they ended up being these weird, mosquito-bite-like welts. Hadn’t happened in months, and then I got one this past Monday (February 13th). (Photo. Slightly NSFW and NSFS (not safe for the squeamish).)
It’s not the best lighting or photo, but that’s what the welts usually look like. Always at the very end of the incision.
I’ve been under a lot of work-related stress, so maybe those welts have to do with stress and not anything surgery-related?
I’m still NOT wearing regular bras, not even the type that are wire free. I’ve stuck with my thin-strapped sports bras from Wal-mart, only because I’ve tried shopping for bras that fit twice and didn’t have much luck because I kept feeling them press on my incisions. These are much more comfy anyway :D. But I’m hoping to go back and try to find some soon!
[Edited to say:] Jorge bought me some Jockey brand sports-type bras from Macy’s to try out during a sale and they are THE BEST!! They actually accentuate your shape (doesn’t create the “uni-boob” like my other sports bras!) and they come with removable pads! Since the surgery, my nips seem to have a mind of their own, so those little pads come in handy and they aren’t bulky!).
I still have that small “band” of numbness on the right side of my right breast, and sometimes it feels really icky when I accidentally rub it or when Jorge forgets and grazes me there, but all-in-all, I’m satisfied and relieved that I still have most of the feeling back in my breasts and nipples.
The scars around my areolas itch ridiculously every once in a while, but it’s noy very often. Scar tissue?
I have NO BACK PAIN!! Nothing at all like I used to have, except for when I’m PMS’ing of course, but I got so used to trying to “hide” my large breasts by slumping forward that I still find myself slouching a lot.
Although I didn’t have the automatically happy, relieved experience as other women have described who’ve had this procedure, I AM happy I got it done. Overall, my self-confidence got a little boost and I’m definitely not self-conscious about what I look like in my clothes anymore (well, not when it comes to my boobs anyway!). It’s definitely a plus not having to tug at my blouses, or bras, or cardigans or push the girls back into the bra-cup when they decide they’re going to spill out when picking something up off the floor. Wearing dresses and not looking pregnant is another plus!
I don’t have terrible back pain or red-raw skin under my breasts or on my shoulders anymore from the heavy bras cutting into my skin.
Another thing I love: I can wear non-zip hoodie sweaters without looking like a large pumpkin on legs because of my boobs!! I’ve NEVER in my life been able to wear those types of hoodies. These are just some of the things I can remember off the top of my head that women with normal-sized boobs don’t have to put up with!
So for anyone who is looking for advice on where to start:
1. I had a visit with my OB/GYN for my yearly exam in September 2015 and she’s the one who asked if I’d ever considered surgery, since my shoulders and skin under my breasts had angry, red indentations and were even raw in some places. I told her yes, that if I had the money, I would have gotten it done back when I was 17. She said she would document my back pain, and the raw and indented skin and would refer me to a plastic surgeon for a consultation.
2. At the consultation, I didn’t know what to expect. They make you disrobe from the neck to your belly and the doctor marks and measures from your collar bones to nipples, etc., and takes photos to submit to your insurance to confirm if they’ll cover your surgery or not. It is quite unnerving if you’re not used to strangers tugging and grabbing at you, heh. All insurances are different, but I’ve heard that most of the time, they cover 80% and you’re responsible for 20%. It took about 2 weeks to hear back from the insurance, and then my insurance with work changed in October 2015, so the doctor had to resubmit my paperwork to the new insurance company. It took another 3 weeks to hear back and they were ready to schedule me that week in November, but because of work, I opted to take time off in February 2016.
3. Make sure that you are fully aware of what to expect before, during and after surgery. My doctor gave me a pamphlet with tons of information on what to expect, plus the do’s and don’t’s. This is also the time to perhaps get checked for any allergies you may have, most specifically, for latex or steri-strip tape. (I wish I’d had the sense to do that!) Do your own research, but be careful if you’re a hypochondriac like me! I made sure to write down all my questions and concerns and even though I was sort of embarrassed, made sure to get answers for each one from my doc.
4. You will need help, lots of it! You’ll need someone to stay with you after the surgery, and of course to drive you home and to stay with you afterwards. You don’t realize how much you use your arm and chest muscles throughout the day! I recommend getting a very soft, small pillow to hold against you on the drive home. The seat-belt and bumps in the road are MURDER on your chest. Once I was able to drive about 2 weeks post-op, I drove around with my little red heart pillow for a good 5-6 months.
5. Post-surgery: Make sure you get your meds filled by your pharmacy as soon as possible. You will want to take your meds without fail as soon as the anesthesia starts wearing off. I got a pill even before I left the hospital because I could feel the waves of pain coming. Have things ready to distract you (after a few days of sleeping off the meds). Have some Netflix shows on queue and books ready. (This is when my love affair with Scandal came to be.) You will need help getting into your bed, off of your bed, to the bathroom, changing clothes, etc. You will sleep, a lot. Also: you will need to pee A LOT that first night. Probably all the saline leaving your body. Ask for help!
6. Speaking of post-anesthesia: you will most likely be intubated during surgery. I had a croaky voice, but even worse: my throat was irritated and I kept having to cough! It was painful on my chest :(. You will also feel nauseous for a couple of days due to the anesthesia. I could only eat very little cereal, or a few spoonfuls of soup, if even that before the nausea kicked in.
7. You will also need someone to bring you meals, or even open your bottles of water to take your meds! I wasn’t told to stay away from the stove, but I’ve heard others that have. Mainly because you can’t lift your arms too much or feeling numb and having burners on don’t mix!
8. You won’t be able to take a shower for 1 week, no joke. I’ve spoken to several people and read several blogs and it’s all the same. You can’t shower for a week. Make sure you have a healthy amount of wipees for wipee baths and dry shampoo for your hair!
9. Speaking of, you’ll be instructed not to lift your arms, so you will need forward-closing bras. My doctor didn’t give me much information about what types, and because of my allergic reaction I could only wear cotton bras, but most women use forward-closing sports bras. Later on, when I could lift my arms, I wore the Hanes brand sports bras with thin straps from Walmart. They come in a pack of 3. Since then, I have fallen in love with the nylon Jockey brand sports bras with removable pads.
If I remember anything else, I will update here.
These are just a few tips about my own personal experience. Please consult your doctors for the best advice on pre- and post-operation information.
You can read about my full experience here:
THAT ONE TIME I HAD BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY – PART 1
THAT ONE TIME I HAD BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY – RECOVERY WEEK 2
THAT ONE TIME I HAD BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY – RECOVERY WEEK 3
THAT ONE TIME I HAD BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY – RECOVERY WEEK 4
THAT ONE TIME I HAD BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY – RECOVERY WEEK 5
THAT ONE TIME I HAD BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY – RECOVERY WEEK 6
THAT ONE TIME I HAD BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY – DAY 48