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Once I decided to finally take the leap to have breast reduction surgery, I scoured the internet to find any information about the procedure. I didn’t want the medical jargon; I needed to hear the stories of real women and what they went through during the process. What I found was no one has the exact same experience. All information was valuable, but different for each woman. I decided I would write about my personal breast reduction journey, as it is very different from the stories I read and the videos I watched. It is my hope this can help someone out there contemplating this surgery. This is my breast reduction experience and tips from start to finish. I have also created a list of my top 5 items needed for after breast reduction surgery. You can read that article here.
Although I have wanted a breast reduction since my late teens, I have never seriously put thought into actually having the surgery. I have always been terrified of the thought of major surgery and balked at the price tag. It wasn’t until December 2018 that I got serious about the idea. It was finally time to go speak to a surgeon. Since I live in Hawaii, I chose the #1 surgeon on Oahu. It was there I was quoted over $16,000 for a mastopexy (breast lift) and a small breast reduction.
I immediately decided to look elsewhere. My search started and ended in Dallas, Texas. This is a place I still have connection to through family and friends. With one search, I came across Lemmon Avenue Plastic Surgery and Laser Center. The name Mark Dueber sounded vaguely familiar and with one facebook search, I found we had mutual friends. I was able to confirm I knew several people personally that had work done through him. Having personal references gave me the confidence to get more serious about this place. The glaring problem I had was the fact Dallas was over 3,000 miles away. How would I get the consult I needed? Fret not! Dr. Dueber to the rescue!
To my very pleasant surprise, this office had an online consultation. Although it felt odd to take photos of my breasts and upload them online, it was the easiest, and most sensible solution for myself. With the photos and a few questions asked, I was on my way. Within a couple of days, the office contacted me via telephone for a telephone consult. There, they explained how a mastopexy worked. I was informed I was a good candidate for a mastopexy and possibly a small reduction. This was not my original intent, but the nurse did a great job of explaining the difference in going for a lift or a reduction. I am glad she did, because what she explained was exactly what I was wanting.
The nurse explained they could not guarantee a size, but rather guarantee to put my nipples back to where they were anatomically correct, if that included tissue removal, then so be it. This was actually reassuring because I knew the office wasn’t just telling me what I wanted to hear, but what needed to happen. This helped manage my expectations. It was also at this time I was quoted $7,800 for the procedure. That was more than $8,000 less than my last consult! Sign me up! If you can find an office with an online consult, do it! It makes the breast reduction experience start off so easily.
Leading Up to Breast Reduction Surgery
December 27, 2018 was the day I confirmed with Lemmon Avenue Plastic Surgery and a date was on the calendar. On January 4th, 2019, I received my surgery packet with the information I needed to have a smooth, successful surgery. The packet was mostly pre-surgery tips, prescriptions to fill before surgery, and a medical questionnaire. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be completely honest on this form. Anesthesia is SERIOUS business and many things can affect your reaction to the medication. Not being honest can be deadly.
After the health questionnaire was complete I sent it off and waited until two weeks out from surgery for the next step. Two weeks from surgery, I was asked to complete a blood count and metabolic panel at a local diagnostic lab. This step was as easy as making an appointment and having a few vials of blood drawn. That process took about 20 minutes and they sent the results to my doctor. After that, I just had to wait until my flight to Texas.
Researching to Prepare for Surgery
I felt the best way to prepare for my upcoming breast reduction experience was to research everyone else’s journey so I knew what to expect. What I learned here was that everyone has their own unique experience when having any breast altering surgery. I have heard everything from I regret it all, to it was the best decision I ever made; it was the worst pain I have ever felt, to it was no big deal. So, I decided I would just prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I searched far and wide to find zip front, no underwire bras, which have come very handy. A handful of zip front and button down shirts were purchased for the days following surgery, and I found the perfect angle, wedge pillow to help with the back sleeping. I was more than prepared.
Day Before Surgery
I flew into Dallas on a Sunday. I wanted a few days of hotel relaxation so I could start my breast reduction journey on a full tank. On Tuesday, February 12, I had my first face to face consultation with Dr. Dueber. It was here that he confirmed what I was told over the phone: I was a perfect candidate for a mastopexy (breast lift) and a small reduction. He thought I would have a final cup size between 1.5-2 cups smaller than my current DDD. I was also assured he could even out my size, as my left breast was noticeably larger than my right. He took several before photos, and answered any questions I still had. Oddly enough, I didn’t have too many questions because I had scoured the internet and felt satiated in my knowledge.
The whole process took about 30 minutes. I was in and out, and sent home to enjoy my night before surgery. The Anesthesiologist also gave me a call that evening to introduce himself over the phone and explain his part in the surgery and answer any questions I had. Again, I didn’t have any, and just waited for the procedure to happen.
My sister came to stay the night with me so she could take me to and from my surgery, as you are unable to drive for 24 hours due to anesthesia effects. My particular doctor also does not allow patients to leave in an Uber for safety reasons. (Thank goodness!!) We had a good, filling meal, sans alcohol. It’s important to refrain from alcohol due to the effects of blood thinning. That can be a mess in surgery with anesthesia use. Also, you cannot have any food or water after midnight before surgery, so you want to be full and hydrated when you fall asleep. I had a plethora of feelings running through my head, but that requires a blog article all it’s own (click here to read that article). Somewhere in the night, I was able to grab a few hours of sleep.
Day of Breast Reduction Surgery
My surgery was set to begin at 9:30 am on Wednesday, February 13. I was asked to come to the office at 9am to meet the Anesthesiologist and get prepped for the surgery. At 7am, I woke up to take a shower and wash my hair because I was not exactly sure when I would be able to shower again. I also made sure to wear cotton underwear, as other materials can apparently conduct electricity and can be a safety issue. I also had a zip front sweater to easily change back into after surgery. Again, I could not have any water or food before surgery.
When I got to the office, they allowed my sister to come in with me to meet one more time with my doctor. It was helpful to have her there to have a second set of ears for anything mentioned. The Anesthesiologist also used this time to find my vein and insert the port for the anesthesia. The nurse gave me two tabs of tylenol to have have running through my system. This also came with the tiniest sip of water, which I was very grateful for, as I hadn’t had water in quite some time.
I was led into a room that had a surprising amount of people for the procedure. I knew my doctor, the anesthesiologist, and two nurses, but there were two others helping out. It really did take a whole team. I was instructed to lay on the table. After about 2 minutes, the Anesthesiologist told me I would feel a sting from the anesthesia, and he was correct. It was a very odd, stinging sensation. Luckily, it didn’t last long, as I was out within about a minute or two. Next thing I knew, I was waking up and surgery was complete.
This part is a bit of a blur, but as soon as I was awakened, I was helped into my clothes. I did not wear a bra out of the office, only an ace bandage put on by the nurses. My sister was already in the room. I was in a bit of pain, but not unbearable. The worst part was my throat hurting from the tube they used to help me breath during the procedure. After I got dressed, there wasn’t any down time. They allowed me to leave pretty quickly, and gave me a time for my follow-up appointment for the next day. The nurse reminded my sister to let me sleep a few hours, but then wake me up to eat and have water. She also instructed me to get up and move around, and to lift my arms over my head to get my blood flowing.
The Hours Following Surgery
One thing many people don’t consider after surgery is the amount of time it takes to get to where you will be for the night, and the route taken to get there. Luckily, my hotel was only about 10 minutes from the surgery center. I highly suggest getting close if you can. It is totally worth splurging on a hotel room if you live far away. Also, your driver will need to be patient and willing to take it slow. A route without speed bumps and potholes is ideal.
The first hour after surgery was the worst. The best way I can describe it was feeling like a hot knife had sliced me. My doctor used a blade and electrocautery, so it made sense to feel that way. Although I hurt, it was, by no means, unbearable. I was able to get into my room and fall asleep pretty quickly. After I napped a couple of hours, I was up and feeling surprisingly well. I had very little pain. I could lift my arms with no trouble. My breasts just felt very swollen and tight at the bottom where the side were pulled in and stitched together.
I was feeling good enough that we actually went out to dinner. I came back to the hotel and took an ibuprofen and a benadryl to help me get back on a normal sleep schedule, as suggested by the nurse. During the night, I still had very little pain. The worst part was the sore throat and the after taste of the anesthesia. It took through the night for that to clear up and feel normal.
The Day Following Surgery
The day after surgery, I woke up pretty early. There was very little discomfort, and I was feeling good. I slept well with my new wedge pillow, so I had tons of energy. I put on another zip front sweater, and was still only wearing my ace bandage. At no time did I wear a surgical bra. We went for breakfast and then the follow up appointment.
At my follow up, the doctor removed my ace bandage. He looked at how the breasts looked with the surgical tape still on. The doctor and nurse were both satisfied with the results. He let me know that they ended up not just doing the lift, but also removed about 300 grams of tissue from each breast. He said they would turn out very nicely. They asked if I had more questions. I just wanted to know when I could shower, which I was told I could do immediately when I got home. It was important to make sure the surgical tape was completely dry, using the cool setting on the blow dryer if needed. I was also given the following information:
Go about my normal activity, it will help me heal faster.
Keep the surgical tape on for two weeks, but I can remove the pieces as they started to curl, just use sharp scissors.
No working out for 3 weeks.
I can have sexual activity whenever I felt comfortable
Sleeping on my side could happen as soon as it felt comfortable.
There was no need to wear a surgical bra; however, I needed to wear a wireless sports bra for the first 3 months. I could opt to not wear any bra if I liked.
Continue with 800mg Ibuprofen, but stay away from narcotics for pain, as they slow healing.
I could use Scar MD to reduce sight of scars after the tape comes off, usually 2 weeks.
But What About the Drains?
I was incredibly fortunate with my breast reduction experience. I did not have to have any drains. From the start, my doctor let me know the procedure he used did not end with any types of drains. In fact, I had very little “oozing” or blood that the surgical tape did not stop. It was only the second night I had a little post surgical liquid get on my shirt as a slept. Other than that, my incision sites stayed pretty dry.
The Week Following Surgery
I was fully prepared to be down and out for a few days, but it did not happen that way. Going about my usual routine happened immediately. I did actively try to keep a healthy diet and drink plenty water to help with my healing. I also made sure I was up and moving my body and arms often, as advised by my doctor. About 3 days after surgery, my bruising came in pretty heavy. It looked pretty gnarly with the bruises and bloodied surgical tape, but still did not hurt. The itching was pretty intense during this time. My nipples turned out hypersensitive, so it was not the best feeling. I made sure to use soap to keep my skin clean and use the blow dryer on cool to dry my surgical tape.
Four days after surgery, I flew back from Dallas to Oahu, Hawaii. I was a bit concerned about the pressure and inconvenience of travel. However, it was not an issue at all. It was just the normal uncomfortable nature of flying for 9+ hours. Six days after surgery, I was back at work, teaching middle school. I have not had any complications, nor has my life been inconvenienced by the surgery. At 11 days out, my bruising has also almost cleared up. Much of my tape has come off. The stitching looks like it is healing up nicely, as well. I am pleasantly shocked at how easy this whole procedure turned out for me.