This winter I FINALLY got a breast reduction. It was the 3rd time in the past 12 years I've tried to get it approved by insurance (guess 3rd time's a charm!). It's safe to say I did a LOT of research but still had tons of questions. Thought I'd share my lessons learned because if any of you are considering it (or have a women in your life who is), these tips may help ease some anxiety.
It is the best thing you will ever do. It’s life changing - this was told to me numerous times in the 12 years I surveyed women. They were right. Even at only 3 weeks in, bandages and all, I felt like a new person.
You won’t realize how much of your identity will change based on simply reducing your breast size. - Yes, obviously I knew I’d look different and my clothes would fit differently, but what I didn’t expect was how for the 1st time in my life, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I didn’t see just "boobs" right away. I had a waist! And curves! And I didn't need to hide under bolts of cloth! I think it's still setting in...
#2 leads into #3 - Be patient with yourself. You’re probably a badass chick and aren’t used to not being able to do everything. Well, you just had major surgery. You can’t do all the things you used to and you won’t for awhile. So stop pushing yourself. If you’re tired, rest. It’s normal. Drink LOTS of water and let your body heal.
For the first 3 weeks, you may get warm and/or red breasts. One may look fine and the other oozy (that happened to me and I ferociously web MDd at late hours of the night thinking I was dying. My nipple looked like a weird pepperoni). As long as you don't have a fever, you're ok. Go to your plastic surgeon at your week post-op follow-up. I'm sure he will tell you it’s fine.
As a very experienced and wise retired nurse told me - anesthesia is one of the safest things the medical community does. If you're like me, you don’t like the idea of “going under” but trust me, it happens quickly and you likely won’t remember a thing. If you’re an emotional type like me), you may wake up crying from the anesthesia. Apparently that is also normal so don’t worry about it. It happens.
Before your surgery, there are some things you may want to prep and get:
A pillow for the car ride home to prop up your arms. Bumps on the road are no fun.
Get some tank tops with the built in shelf bras (yes, those ones you could never wear because they barely contained your nipples). You'll probably live in them for a few days
Get some sports bras, no underwire, with hooks. Plan for your band size (this won’t change). And yes, you really can wear normal sizes found in the store, like large or even medium!
Get some gauze, polysporin, standard medical tape, and vitamin E. You may have some leaking and that will need to be bandaged. Don't sweat it. And vitamin E the crap out of the scars.
Somewhere around 2 weeks you may get itchy, like real bad. (if you’re like me it’ll be the night before you have to go back to work and you’ll be up all night and really exhausted your 1st day back. (ugh) Take some Benadryl. It’ll stop the itching and knock you out. win-win
Get someone you trust to take you to/from the surgery and stay with you the 1st night (minimum). I apparently tried to cook dinner because I was hungry and hadn’t eaten all day. Luckily my husband followed me around the kitchen to make sure I didn’t burn myself or the house down.
You will have pretty decent range of motion after about 2 weeks and will likely be back at work. However, you still can’t reach above your head for things like the top shelf in the kitchen (if you’re short like me) and it will be annoying, Plan ahead (maybe a step stool?). You'll thank me.
If you’re not a back sleeper, you may have some difficulty after the surgery. You'll have to sleep on your back for a few months and you will probably be completely sick of it before the percocets wear off. Try sleeping with pillows under your arms. It will help immensely.
Your Doc will probably say you’ll be fine to go back to work after 2 weeks and physically you may be totally able. However, you may be exhausted if you have a job where you have to be mentally engaged at a high level. I had a rough time working 8 hrs/day that 1st week back. I ended up taking naps over lunch and only worked a 3 day week. Everyone heals at different rates. Be easy on yourself.
Clothes will fit differently. You’ll probably need a whole new wardrobe but for reasons you may not think. For instance, your shirt may still fit but now you notice how boxy it makes you look. Or those shirts that were always a bit tight are now your favorites. Don’t be surprised if you not only have to buy new clothes but have to change your style too. Give it at least 3 weeks until the swelling goes down enough before you dive in. But have fun with it! (I'm a HUGE StitchFix fan, but I'll save that for another blog)
Welcome to the "brand new world" that other women live in. Enjoy the comedy in the simplest things - like being able to close a towel around your body after a shower, wearing a button-up shirt without giving strangers a peep show, and having perky boobs again and feeling like you’re 13. Enjoy every moment! You’ve suffered enough and enjoy the new you!
So now, the good stuff. Some before and after pics. Total mass removed: 5.5 pounds!!!
Now, on to the weight loss!