My breast reduction surgery – continued

It is now 19 days since my surgery. I’ve spoken about a lot of things already but I’m not sure I’ve truly covered what you need to be aware of before you go into it.

This is not me, but it’s actually pretty close to how I was looking and how I will look (from flyhealth.co.uk).

flyhealth uk breast

The first seven days

Physically, you will be recovering from surgery. Follow all the instructions from your surgeon – mine gave me at least six documents to read on what might happen, what I needed to do. Don’t even think about doing anything in those first seven days except for sleeping, eating and staying cool. The dressings required not getting wet, so showers were not an option. Be prepared to feel really vulnerable because you are going to need help with washing you and your hair.

You are going to be emotional. You can see from my previous posts that I was really disturbed by the swelling and the look, not thinking that they took enough. I know now I need to wait many months – of course they tell you this, but it doesn’t sink in until it’s ready to.

You may feel that in fact they are too small. My surgeon tells me people come back to him for enlargements as they have lost weight and now feel too small! I said that ain’t gonna be me!

Manage the pain – I was pretty good with this but also conscious that I didn’t want to be on the strong painkillers too long. I managed to get largely off them until my first trip into my surgeon for the dressing change. Then I was back on them again regularly for a few days.

You will probably get constipated. It took me four full days before my first small bowel movement and I felt crappy (pun intended) all that day. Prunes, yoghurt and fibre help.

The compression garment will probably start to annoy you after a few days. The pressure on the bruising is what I found the most uncomfortable, and it tends to roll up around the bottom. To help a little bit, you can release that bottom hook as the support is for your breasts, not around your torso (nurse approved activity).

The next seven days

If you are anything like me, feeling Ok enough to do stuff but not actually really being OK to do stuff is a little frustrating! I spent time reading and studying. I walked the garden. I usually needed rest periods after sitting up for a few hours. A 40 minute phone call from my work colleague caused pain and fatigue. Not yet ready for work!

The dressing change was slightly painful but also a relief. You might have read that my skin, as do many others, gets really nasty and irritated underneath those dressings. It was a relief to have them off. I needed some steroid cream to help heal that up and it took at least five more days of application before it was settled.

The bruising will start to disappear but will still be there, especially if you had liposuction along the sides of your breasts and under your arms. This swelling seems to be the bit so far for me that is staying around.

Things are still tender and there are points of pain and jabs which my friend at brjourney calls zingers. I recommend her blog for another, further on down the line perspective!

Nipples can have no sensation or all sensation at this point. It can be 18 months before everything is all healed up again. Mine are still encased in the second lot of dressing tape. I’ve got another week of this before it is likely to fall off. It seems to be keeping on quite well, but I’ve trimmed off some lifted edges as instructed by the nurse at the surgery.

Emotionally I feel a lot better. You may or may not. After the first dressing change I accepted that the swelling would take months and I would just have to be patient. People laugh at me when I tell them that I have to be patient – it’s like they know me or something!  However, it is still quite a Frankenstein sight every time you look in the mirror at your new breasts and takes a little time to get used to that!

That compression garment is getting really annoying and probably a bit stinky since you’ve been wearing it 24/7. However, once OK’d (post dressing change) you can swap it with a supportive sports bra for some of the time. No under wires! I’ve got one that I wear to bed and it’s more comfortable for me to sleep in. I get up and change back into my compression garment first thing. Plus it allowed me to finally give it a wash!

Week three

Low key exercise is allowed after two weeks – I’m walking around my local area and popping into the shops, which I did this morning. The main issue for me is the body heat and bouncing produces intense stinging sensations, especially around the nipples. It doesn’t really encourage me to get back to it! Suffice to say, don’t do anything that will interrupt the healing of your new boobs! It isn’t worth the potential damage to go back to your fitness regime too early. Lucky I’m not a pro athlete!

I’m mentally and emotionally ready to go back to work – physically is still slightly tentative. At this point, I’m looking to go back a day earlier than planned, but just for a half day. The next day will also be short as I have a massage appointment and then Friday I work from home, so the travel is zero. I’m fortunate that I have a number of four day weeks coming up with the Easter break this year at the end of March, so that will also help if there is still fatigue. It sounds a bit weak, however, you cannot anticipate how much energy you physically need to move around an office, be involved in meetings, talk to people, concentrate on tasks – especially if you have been doing pretty much nothing for the last few weeks! This would no doubt be doubled if you have a job that requires you to do lifting or standing for long periods (such as someone working in retail or food service) or helping people all day (doctors, nurses, teachers).

There is still tenderness to touch all around but generally no pain. I can still see some bruises, especially the really strong one in between my breasts. God knows what they were doing to produce such a bruise, but anyway, it is a faint triangle at this point.

I’m lifting a few more things now but still not wet washing or anything that seems too heavy.

Also…

  • I think it helps to read other people’s stories and perspectives. When things come up for you, you might have already read about it and that can really ease your mind! Look around the web for people who you can connect with.
  • Be sure about your surgeon and ask plenty of questions – this is not a light thing that you do! People at work called me brave for doing it and I really don’t see it that way, but perhaps it is always brave to do something for yourself.
  • Ensure you have lots of home help. If you live alone, you will want to go stay with a close friend or relative that can give you the personal care and support you will physically need. Getting out of bed in the first few days is hard. There is a lot of pain. You can’t lift a single solitary thing and you’re not really that hungry but you will need to eat properly and keep hydrated.
  • Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster ride, especially in the first week. Even if you feel mentally prepared before the operation, because you don’t know what you are going to see until you see it, it is a shock. Surgery, anaesthetic, painkillers and pain can mess with you. Suffice to say if someone upsets you, you will have zero reserves to deal with it. Just try to be kind to yourself and go to bed!
  • Be prepared for some nostalgia for your old boobs from your partner. Even though she is fully supportive, the lovely misses my old boobs (just a bit, she tells me).  Ultimately her support has allowed me to make this change for myself and have a better life because of it, so I’ll cop the nostalgia! Note that there should not be any negativity from your partner about your new boobs – they have to accept you have made this important decision for your health (and whatever damn reason you like). If they need help, recommend they speak to a professional who can talk them through any emotions they might be having so you can get on with healing.
  • Think about what you can do with your old, good quality bras. There is hopefully an organisation nearby that helps women less fortunate or homeless that need bras just as much as we did when we had our fuller breasts. Make sure they are clean and in good condition.
  • See this post  for previous blogs on my breast reduction surgery journey.

Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring,
Tanya

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