1142 days of not waking up with intrascapular pain

Just over 3 years ago I had breast reduction mammoplasty surgery.

At the time I clunkily coded my own webpage detailing the events pre and post op. (some of my invisible listserv friends said “you should blog this” and I said “what is blog” silly me)

Anyway, here’s the gory story.

Anyone considering such surgery themselves, please feel free to ask me any questions.

Categories: health

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12 replies

  1. I think telling your story so elequently will help any woman considering such action! There is so much more to it than a visit to the hospital!

  2. Ah, this is a really difficult issue for me. My friend is considering it, but unlike you her breasts, while large, aren’t *that* large, and she doesn’t have any physical symptoms. What makes me concerned is that it’s almost like she’s ashamed of having breasts, she’s always referring to herself as a “malformed freak” and wearing clothes about 27 sizes too large so no one can ever, ever see the outline of her breasts. It makes me think that she should consider going to talk to a psychologist about her breast related issues before going to surgery, especially since I don’t think she understands what she’s in for physically. Do you think it’s wrong of me to have this opinion? She keeps asking for my advice.

  3. Cammy,
    If she hates her breasts that much, having the surgery for the sake of her mental health may be just the right thing for her, although I think counselling could be a very good idea nonetheless. Has she considered the probably effect on nursing babies, for instance? Theoretically, the surgery I had should make that still possible, but I’d already had my kids so nursing wasn’t an issue although nerve integrity was (having surgery that keeps nipple nerve/mammary function viable is much much more expensive).

  4. PS. Until I fell pregnant I was a DD – large but not that large. I was looking forward to breastfeeding because of all the women I knew whose breasts shrunk after nursing – hooray thought I!
    Alas, for me it was not to be. I was an FF cup during my first pregnancy, then a G cup during my second, and they didn’t shrink with breastfeeding. The experts at the bra-fitting shop said that is quite common – once you’re at a D cup you could go either way with shrinking or swelling post partum, but if you’re a DD cup in their experience the breasts will nearly always end up larger after breastfeeding.

  5. No tigtog, that’s the thing, she hasn’t considered any of that. I think she just thinks that she’ll go in and poof, no more breasts, and that’s the end of it. She also works in a very physically demanding job, so it might be difficult for her a while afterward, and if she can’t work she’s not going to get paid (not to mention not having any insurance). Someone else was telling her, too, that often the surgery has to be done again, as gaining weight will make the breasts larger again. The thing that really concerns me, though, is how she really seems to think that having breasts is somehow abnormal or disgusting, since she already looks more like the after shot than the before.

  6. Just to clarify, in case it’s not clear, I did NOT mean to imply that the before picture is either disgusting or abnormal! 🙂 What I meant was is that she really doesn’t have that much breast tissue to begin with, I doubt she’s a double D, and I don’t think she’ll be happy until it’s all completely gone, which I can’t help thinking is something that possibly should be talked over with a professional.

  7. I didn’t take it that way, Cammy. My pre-op breasts were uncomfortable, not disgusting, for me.
    There are lots of surgeons who won’t do breast reductions without a history of pain/visible bone changes on Xray etc.
    Others will do them for purely cosmetic reasons, and while I think cosmetic surgery in general is oversold, I’d never second-guess what would make someone else really happy as a cosmetic procedure. I had a classmate who got a nose-job one holidays, without telling any of us her plans. I didn’t think her nose was a problem before, but she did, the surgeon did a great job (she still looked like herself), and she was very happy with the result.
    From what you’re saying, your friend may well have dysmorphia issues that are way beyond my expertise. And even so, eventually surgery may still be the most satisfactory option for her, as a deliberate departure from normality that makes her happy.
    Realistic expectations regarding pain and recovery are essential though. If she has a physically demanding job, she needs to be mentally and financially prepared for no driving at all for several weeks, and then light duties with no heavy lifting for several months. It doesn’t sound like getting all the ducks in a row on this one is going to be easy for your friend.

  8. Thanks tigtog, this has been really helpful. No driving at all for several weeks???? My goodness, she’s a sailor, she hoists heavy ropes for a living. I know that she hasn’t considered any of this.

  9. Onya, TT. I had this operation in January 1982 when I was 28 (the surgical techniques seem to have changed hardly at all) — no dysmorphia, just the potential back/spine issues and the dreadful, ongoing embarrassment: men never looked one in the eye while talking to one; clothes never fitted one properly; one could not turn around quickly without knocking some innocent bystander unconscious; etc etc etc, all things I’m sure you remember. (Dolly Parton: ‘Joggin’? Honey, Ah cain’t go joggin’. Ah’d black out both mah eyes.’) Also, you forgot to mention the suppressed sniggering of blokes, the steady stream of vile remarks from total strangers in passing trucks and so on.
    I had dreadful post-op complications with the details of which I shall not sicken you, but even at the height of that I was desperately grateful, and have remained so to this day, to have breasts that didn’t need to be hauled around with me like albatrosses, to be able to run for the bus, and go out bra-less without getting arrested for the first time since I was about thirteen.
    Cammy, your friend needs to have an exploratory talk to her GP. Some of what you say she’s heard is just plain wrong, and she badly needs to know the reality of this surgery. It is, as someone once put it, positively Attic self-mutilation, and she badly needs to be more realistic about the complications, the outcomes and the kinds of imperfections that can come with the scars.

  10. Pav, I still don’t go bra-less generally, because I’m still a D-cup. My doc said that if I tried to go for smaller it probably wouldn’t look right, and I was used to being a D-cup anyway.
    As an ex-physio, I can imagine your complications quite well, and sympathise. One advantage of my training was that I took the surgeon’s warnings about what I should and shouldn’t do very seriously, and thus managed to do quite well with the recuperation. If one doesn’t have decent support for the post-op convalescense, that’s a whole heap of trouble waiting to happen.
    I do remember the automatic assumptions that big tits=easy, and resenting the hell out of them. I can understand it if Cammy’s friend feels that deeply too. But that doesn’t mean she’s necessarily prepared fully for the surgery itself rather than just the eventual result.

  11. Months shy of my 55th birthday I am scheduled for reduction mammoplasty May 31st in hospital Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
    I will be reduced from a F cup (sometimes G depending on the manufacturer) to a C.
    I am somewhat familiar with the process as my sister and her eldest daughter both have had reductions done and NEVER regreted the process.
    Thank you for sharing your experience.
    I wonder if you are familiar with “compression bra” — surgeon’s office called earlier today ($ 75 CDN)…. wouldn’t a sports bra do the same at a more reasonable price.
    TIA = Thanks in advance

  12. Best wishes for the op and the recuperation, Saami.
    Immediately postop I had a compression bandage wrapped around my chest in a figure-8 arrangement to support the tissue and compress the swelling around the sutures. It wasn’t until about 2 or 3 weeks post-op that I changed over to a superduper sports-bra which I wore over a soft sleeping bra (the mesh on the sports bra wasn’t comfortable with the dressings).
    You might want to check whether that combination is more or less than the cost of the “compression bra”, keeping in mind also that there’s still plenty of swelling at 2-3 weeks post op and you will need to buy new bras in a smaller size at about 5-6 weeks once the swelling pretty much settles down. This means that if friends and family are offering to do nice things for you in the convalescent period, perhaps pointing out that a gift card for a department store with proper fitters in their lingerie department might be just the job.
    I’d also recommend reading Bitch PhDs Ultimate Bra Posts (1) and (2) before buying anything at all.

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