I’m home from the hospital now. I got my first peek at my “new” breasts when my surgeon pulled the drains and changed the dressing in her clinic.
For the first time in years, I didn’t feel my chest drop down to my belly button, didn’t feel the tug on my shoulders. Even with the bruises and stitches now, my breasts look and, most importantly, feel so much better.
This changes a lot of things for me. No more needing the wide band bras… no more searching for an awkward bra size to fit the extra skin … no more sleeping bras to keep the girls together … no more back aches. No more watching new stretch marks form as I lose weight, the skin flattening and losing shape. No amount of push-ups or weight lifting could help. It wasn’t the breast tissue … it was the skin, and nothing was going to make my skin elastic again.
Since I’m on bed rest with strict orders not to do anything, especially any lifting whatsoever, I have all the time now to sort through my inbox and answer the questions I’ve received over the past few weeks.
So here it goes…
What did you have done exactly?
I had a breast lift. No breast tissue was removed: all the fat, muscle, milk ducts and glands remained. My breast tissue naturally fills a C-cup. That’s what I wore most of my adult life, even after my second child’s birth, but after the boys’ births and weight fluctuations related to those pregnancies, I ended up needing a DDD-cup. Losing weight only shrunk them down to a DD-cup. It was so hard to find a bra to fit me properly because that’s not a normal, off-the-rack bra size regularly sold in stores, finding something to fit my rib cage AND my cup size.
This wasn’t my surgeon, but the YouTube video below shows exactly what I had done. Beware: it’s graphic, but very well explained.
How was the surgery? How long were you under anesthesia?
I have no memory of the surgeries. I was knocked out for about three hours the first surgery, and then an hour for the second one. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was awake for all four cesarean deliveries of my kids, where I was partially paralyzed with a needle shoved into my spine, and I remember what it was like being knocked out as a 9-year-old getting my tonsils removed. I suppose that made it easier for me to trust my surgeon and the medical team responsible for my care. I knew I would be fine.
Why did you have two surgeries?
I had the second surgery a few hours after the first one due to hemorrhaging in my left breast. After waking up in recovery after the first surgery, I noticed that side was considerably more swollen than the other, and the medical team noted it was draining a lot of blood, too. So, I was wheeled back into the operating room, put under once again, and they re-opened the stitches to see if maybe a vein burst or something. Apparently, it was pretty gory. However, they weren’t able to identify the source of my bleeding. Everything was as it should.
Fortunately, the bleeding stopped on its own, and they stitched me back up. I was considerably weaker waking up the second time, no doubt from the blood loss, so they kept me in recovery overnight for observation.
How’s the post-op pain?
I’m not going to lie: it hurts. It’s uncomfortable. It feels like intense razor burn where there are stitches: mostly around my nipples and along the creases under my boobs. The skin all around feels tighter now that everything is pushed together again, and it makes for awkward movements. It is not unbearable, though. Recovering from the C-sections was a lot more painful. I was prescribed prescription-strength ibuprofen and a supplement made from pineapple extract to help with the swelling. I am also taking Unisom to help me sleep.
How long are you out of work?
I took two weeks of leave to recover from this. I am grateful that I had a bunch of sick days, and annual leave days, accumulated to use for my recovery.
How long before you can wear a regular bra?
It’s been two full days after the surgeries, and I am now wearing a special “sports” bra to hold the girls in place as they heal. My stitches will be removed in two weeks, and after that, I should be able to wear whatever bra I like underneath my clothes.
How did you pick your surgeon?
I did a lot of research for surgeons in my area of Germany. We were pleasantly surprised that so many are available here. This particular surgery costs around 7,500 Euros, or $8,400. I read reviews, articles, and checked out their web sites. I narrowed down my options to the top three surgeons, and we visited each in their clinics for a consultation.
I considered everything: the cleanliness of their clinics, their choice in artwork, the way the staff interacted with patients. I studied the photos they shared of their work, and asked a lot of questions.
In the end, I picked my surgeon because of her personality, and her attention to detail. Her work was impressive, and her other patients were very happy with her. I just felt immediately comfortable with her, and I liked the way she expressed her opinions about my body. It wasn’t that anything was wrong about my body, or needing to be fixed … but she could relate to how I wanted things to be different, and I appreciated that distinction.
What does Martin think of all this?
Martin’s always been a fan of my body. He thought I looked amazing when he first met me, and still thought I looked pretty nice even when I was a huge elephant of a woman, lumbering around pregnant with his children. He never made me feel self-conscience about my body, and its many changes over the years. He would rather I not have to go through any surgeries or pain, but understands this is something I wanted to do for myself. He will, of course, enjoy the benefits, when everything is healed and back to normal, but he liked me as I was, and will still like me in whatever shape I take down the road.
So what happens now?
For now, I heal. I should be feeling “back to normal” in a few months. It may take up to a year for the scars to fade.
Since I didn’t get implants, and because my chest muscles were left untouched, I don’t think it will take very long to get my strength back to what it was before the surgery. I look forward to being active like that again.
I like the fact that my updated breasts are going to age with me. They will sag as I get older, and at some point, I’ll resort again to wearing bedtime bras and making jokes about them touching my belly button. But since I won’t be having any more babies, or feeding any more babies, or weighing as much as I did when gestating those babies … I intend on being a lot older by then.
With that said, later this fall, I will be scheduling my tummy tuck. My surgeon wants to give my torso time to heal and “settle” since she will be pulling down skin from my lower torso to cover my mid-section. I am really looking forward to that, too.
More to come later!