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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Mastopexy and Augmentation Mammoplasty

...or otherwise known as "Breast Lift with Implants", or as I like to call it, "Lift and Stuff".

Yes, this is the "procedure" I referred to way back in June. I finally feel ready to blog about it three months after the fact.

I first started thinking about this surgery about a year ago when I realized that the "girls" were just never going to repair themselves and look attractive again. I had major sagging due to breastfeeding. My breasts had gotten quite large during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but I was not one of those lucky ladies that got to keep the luscious breasts, fat and all. The fat all but disappeared from my breasts, leaving them hanging like sad empty sacks. I could not find bras to fit me properly and they were uncomfortable to boot. Having a larger set of hips (which also grew thanks to pregnancy), I looked disproportionate and clothing was becoming a chore. I basically hid behind baggy tops.

I want to start off by saying that my husband in no way influenced my in my decision to have this surgery. It was all me. All my idea. I say this because a certain relative of my husband's seems to think that women only do these surgeries for the benefit of men and nothing could be further from the truth. He never once suggested I should have it done or expressed that he'd like me to have it done, and was very supportive only in that he wanted me to be happy. Of course maybe that was before he realized he was picking up the tab, heh heh! Interestingly enough, my twin and I had both come to the decision to do this surgery independently of each other. I guess we decided to bring 40 in with a bang. She, however, did not require the lift, so she had only the augmentation done.

I had seen the work of my surgeon on another woman and was blown away by how realistic the breasts looked. Many of us, including me, have the impression that all "boob jobs" look the same - fake. So I booked a preliminary visit with him and away we went. I had to wait several months to get in to see him and I can honestly say it was worth the wait. Once in his office I was interviewed by one of his assistants and then waited to see him. At that time I was sort of hoping I would not need a lift and could just "fix things up" with some implants. To my dismay, this was not the case and it was at that point that I nearly changed my mind about the whole thing. But he explained to me that placing an implant into a sagging breast would not correct the problem, only worsen it, that he made every effort to minimize scarring and that healing time was roughly the same as for a straight augmentation. He point blank told me that he would not just put implants into me and if that was what I wanted, I'd need to find another surgeon. I appreciated his candor and also the fact that he was very conservative about things like size. I left with the quote, a feeling of trepidation, and a lot on my mind.

I had three months from the date of the quote to book my surgery (in order to get that same price). It honestly took me a few weeks to sort out how I felt about it. I have a definite thing about scars. It took me years to get over my c-section scar, even though it healed much better than most other scars of the same kind that I've seen on women. What I had to wrestle with was, could I willingly put scars onto my body for the sake of what most people view as vanity?

I decide I could live with it as the only people who were really going to see them were myself and my husband. I chose the cohesive gel implants as they felt the most realistic to me and had less risk attached to them as regular silicon (from what I've read). The saline were never a consideration for me as I do not like the look of them at all. In my pre-operative visit, the doctor gave me the choice between two different sizes which I got to try in a bra. I chose the slightly larger size (there was about 30cc difference) as it fit my existing curves. The size was 322ccs on each side.

In the meantime, I had decided to fly out to Calgary to join my sister for her surgery as her husband was not able to accompany her. I'm so glad I did. I got to witness first hand what the post surgical phase was like. Now, her surgeon had prescribed all manner of great painkillers and whatnots, so I thought "this'll be a breeze!" Ha. Remember my guy? The conservative one? He wrote me a prescription for Tylenol 3s and an antibiotic and instructed me to get Benadryl (to help me sleep), Gravol (obvious) and Ibuprofen (swelling). Well, Benadryl does indeed make me sleep, but it also makes me intensely crabby, so I avoided that one. The others of course, I got.

I tried not to be very nervous about my upcoming surgery, even when I found an animated video of the procedure.

We found out my surgery was going to be very early in the morning, which sort of temporarily messed up our plans. I had made arrangements for Hayden to spend the week at my mom's (actually she volunteered her services, for which I am eternally grateful) but we thought we'd be able to take Kes to school that day. There was a solution, though, as my sister had volunteered to come down and return the favour. So she was able to take Kes to school while I had the surgery done.

When we arrived at the surgery centre, I was not really very nervous. They shoo'ed hubby away fairly quickly and told him they'd call him. I was then left on my own in the room. Everyone came in and introduced themselves; the assisting nurse and the anesthesiologist, which was great and put me way at ease. Finally Dr. Mosher arrived and began to doodle on my chest with his black felt pen. I stared at the ceiling and waited for him to be done. I never really looked at it and I don't know why. I'm curious now.

I was escorted into the surgical theatre and climbed onto the skinny bed. An i.v. was started, the b.p. cuff applied and leggings were put on my legs along with these inflatable leg sleeves that periodically inflated and deflated to prevent blood clots. I felt like I was on a space ship! Everything seemed so science fiction and state of the art.

Before I knew it, the sleeping drugs were applied and I was deliciously drifting off to dreamland. The next thing I knew, the nurse was calling my name to wake me up. I was initially quite drowsy and a little discombobulated. The auto blood pressure cuff was still on, as were the leg sleeves and now there was also the blood oxygen metre on my finger. Between the two things inflating and deflating, the tight clip on my finger AND the oxygen mask over my mouth and nose, I felt quite claustrophobic and found it hard not to panic for a little while. I closed my eyes and tried to doze. Dr. Mosher came by briefly and patted my head, telling me everything had gone fine. I'd like him to know that meant a lot to me. It made him more human to me and compassionate. I think there is a tendency for people to think that because you've inflicted such a thing on yourself, you don't deserve sympathy. At least that was what I was expecting.

Eventually, the machines and things were removed and the nurse asked me how I was feeling. I told her hungry! All she could offer me was a freezie, but I accepted it willingly because I was starving. She gave me another after I inhaled the first one. Hubby arrived and post-op instructions were given to him and me. It was shortly after lunchtime and we had a bit of a drive as we were out in the 'burbs.

We had called my sis to see where she was at and she was home when we got there. She had gone and bought tummy-friendly foods and a beautiful orchid plant (which I have since killed, sorry Cath!) I had been warned not to do anything outside of personal care, so I left things to the others. The drugs started to wear off and I presently became aware of two very large protrusions on my chest. It was hard to tell much about them because they were bandaged and a large compression garment had been put onto me. I had been told to wear this garment for three weeks and then could switch to a regular bra. I wore it for about two months, mostly at night because it was the most comfortable.

Since I could not shower for the first week to allow the incisions to heal, I did not really look at my breasts all that much, but after a couple of days, they were so swollen that they looked like they were trying to escape in opposite directions. I literally could fit my entire hand between them and I feared the skin between them would tear, it was stretched so tight!

Pain was minimal to be honest. Sure I took pain killers as I needed them but there was never a moment when I thought 'what have I done?'. There was never unbearable pain, just a lot of discomfort as the body tried to allow for the implants. It truly felt like I'd done a massive pectoral workout and needed to breastfeed at the same time. Most of the sensations I experienced were identical to when I was breastfeeding; ie. tingling, shooting pains, prickling, popping and tenderness.

The only "bad" thing that happened was within the first few days due to the antibiotic. It became apparent on day two or three that something had upset my digestive tract and I had pretty bad diarrhea. I called the pharmacist to see if this was a side effect and he said yes, but it was getting to the point where I couldn't cope emotionally with it as I was spending so much time on the toilet, so I called the surgeon's office. The assistant told me to stop taking the drugs and that if it did not clear up, I'd have to get a different prescription as a bacteria may have formed. Nice. Lucky for me this did not happen and being fairly confident in my body's ability to fight infection I did not worry that I was unprotected.

I had a follow up four days after the surgery and the bandaging was removed. There was special surgical tape over all the incisions and I was informed that this would be changed at my next follow up a few weeks away.

I think it probably took me about three weeks to feel fairly pain-free and I began to experiment with my bras. To my delight, all of my old bras still fit...the way they were supposed to. However, the underwire bothered my lower incisions a lot and I had to remove it. Since I had been hoping to buy new bras, I was willing to sacrifice them! I also purchased two bras without underwire (hard to find, let me tell you). The surgical tape was replaced and I was given a roll of it to keep it up. I was never instructed on how long to keep the tape on, just that it helped minimize scarring, so I actually still have a few pieces here and there on parts I feel need attention.

After a few weeks, I developed what is known as a Mondor's Cord on the underside of each breast. Funny enough, the one under my right breast was bulging yet did not hurt. I was experiencing pain on the underside of my left breast and could only tell it was related to a blood vessel because when I touched the area and let go, I could see the blood refill a vessel under the skin. I'm pretty veiny so it was hard to miss. I was told by the surgeon's office that I could take Ibuprofen and use warm compresses for the discomfort. It disappeared pretty quickly.

Since then I have enjoyed shopping for new tops to highlight my new "assets". I never wore v-necks shirts and now have several. I am more confident and I feel much happier when I look in the mirror. At the three month mark, there is still healing going on, which I expected based on the material the surgeon gave me to read. My right breast healed much faster than my left and there is still numbness in the nipple and areola on the left side, but I am confident that feeling will return in time. Nerves don't heal overnight and I'm pretty sure more than a few of them were disrupted.

Overall, I would say the experience has been a positive one. Advice? Try not to have a three year old around if you have this surgery done! The worst part was him wanting to snuggle me all the time and not being able to let him. Sleeping was difficult for several weeks, so sometimes I dozed through the day if I could. All I can say is this: if you are seriously considering this surgery or even just the augmentation, make sure you weigh all the pros and cons. If you think it will make you feel better about yourself and help with the way clothing fits etc., then it probably will. Most people in my circle of friends have been very supportive and even interested in hearing about the process, some that even surprised me. Most people I know who have had it done do not regret it. I am excited to see the "end" result, which in my books will be a year from now. I'll keep you posted! ;0)


Procrastamom said...

Great description of the procedure Heather. Congratulations to you on the new "girls"!


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