my breast reduction story & advice

My journey leading up to my breast reduction was a long one. For years, my mother and I had always talked about my options and we always decided for me to wait until after I had kids. I had settled on this, but before I graduated college, my friend mentioned she was having it done and I figured I should bring the conversation back up. Within two months of discussing it, I had my consultation, insurance approved it, and my appointment was scheduled.

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I am so blessed that I live in Nashville and have the opportunity to use all the services provided at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It was my first and only choice. I called to schedule a consultation and said I’d take the first available appointment. Two weeks later, I was in a room meeting Dr. Summitt for the first time. We discussed the process of getting the insurance approved and he and the nurses proceeded to take pictures, measurements, and asking me questions about how it would change my life.

I expected for insurance to take a few months, but I ended up receiving the call to schedule my appointment within two weeks. Luckily, their first available surgery appointment was in August so I was given plenty of time to prepare my work, purchase items for after surgery, and everyone who’d be helping me after surgery had plenty of time to book their flights.

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For the day of surgery, I was given a list of things to do like, shower before you come and only use antibacterial soap, don’t use deodorant, don’t use perfume, etc. We had to be at the surgical office by 6 am which is very early for me. Also, I got a flat tire on the way there, but my mom was able to take care of it during my surgery.

When they took me back to prepare for surgery, I had to remove all my clothes and put them in a bag, I had to pee in a cup so they could confirm that I was not pregnant, and they began giving me different medicines. Once I was prepared, different doctors began coming in to introduce themselves to me and to fill out opt-in papers for a nerve blocker. I elected to get nerve blockers on each side so there would be less pain after surgery. Time flew by and the next thing I knew they were rolling me into the operating room. Before putting me under, they took another look at the pregnancy test results and I had to confirm what they were performing on me.

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The next thing I knew I was awake from surgery and I didn’t know where I was. Soon after they rolled me bed into a closed area, my mom came in so that I could put my clothes back on. I recommend wearing a loose-fitting pajamas. Most people told me to wear a button-down top because they said it’d be hard to lift my arms. I didn’t listen and just wore a t-shirt. I was still so drugged that I didn’t feel a thing. My after surgery nurse was so great. When he wheeled me out to my car in a wheelchair, he and my mom were both in shock when I tried to stand on my own.

When I got home from surgery, I was super tired. I had blown a very good air mattress up in my living room the night before. I fell asleep with two pillows under my head and one on each side of my upper body. This worked for about a week after surgery. Surprisingly, the day after surgery I was up and moving and even went to Whiskey Jam to see Stephanie Quayle perform. I got lucky with my pain.

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The recommended time off work after surgery is usually six weeks. I could not take off six weeks of work because I had to pay bills and I can’t just sit around for weeks doing nothing. I took off work for a week and a half. During this time, my mom was with me for four days, my friend, Colleen, was there for four days, then my grandparents came in to help me. For me, lifting was not a problem, but I popped a few stitches because of lifting. My biggest issue after surgery was reaching into kitchen cabinets. It’s important to have someone around to help you do things like cook, go grocery shopping, and bathe. I didn’t want to be by myself while showering for the first week. I did get a small infection after surgery, but it was quickly treated by antibiotics.

When it was finally time for me to go back to work, my boss wanted me to be sure about coming back that soon. I felt like I was fine to return. She was strict on my about reaching and lifting for the first few weeks back.

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Overall, my surgery was a success. I still have very thick scars and get nerve pain every so often, but I am so excited that I no longer have back pain, I can wear normal clothes, and I can wear a bikini for the first time in forever.

Below is a list of things that I’d advise any breast reduction surgery patient to purchase. This has been compiled by my experience along with my friends.

Dial Antibacterial Soap

Polysporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment

Covidien 9194A Curity Abdominal Pads, Sterile, 8″ x 10″ (Pack of 18) – These worked great right after surgery when I was only wearing zip-up sports bras or my post-surgical bra because they covered the whole area.

Women’s Zip Front Sports Bra Wireless Post-Surgery Bra Active Yoga Sports Bras – I purchased these in the size that I would wear before surgery because I knew that I wouldn’t want them too tight when my chest was swollen.

MiraLAX Laxative Powder – If you’ve ever been put to sleep by anesthesia, you understand why you need this. You also don’t want to strain after surgery.

Telfa 3″x4″ Adhesive Dressing – Although the bigger pads worked right after surgery, they were not easy to work with once I began wearing a real bra. I bought these because they have adhesive strips on the sides and would easily stay in place throughout the day.

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My advice to anyone interested in having a breast reduction would be:

Find a great surgeon who is willing to work with you on what you want out of the surgery.

Let someone take care of you after surgery.

Be confident in your body. Surgery made me look at my body in a whole new light and I’m more confident than I have been since high school.

Don’t be insecure about your scars. If they show, it is no big deal!

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