Breast Reduction Surgery: Your Questions Answered

If you’re new here, I had my breast reduction on November 23. I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately so I figured I’d just throw them all together and write a quick post in case YOU were wondering the same thing but nervous to ask.

You said your GYN wasn’t thrilled you were having the surgery. Any reason why?
She was not very happy that I wanted to get it done. She’s a close friend of my best friend’s family so she and I have a different relationship than most patient/doctor duos. She’s very opinionated, hilarious, and has a very strong personality. I was already emotional going into the appointment to talk to her about it, so that didn’t help the conversation go well.

Her concern was that I am still rather young, unmarried, and with no children. The procedure typically eliminates your ability to breast feed (although some women have been successful post-surgery). I remember her saying something along the lines of “God gave you such a beautiful gift, why would you want to take it away? He made you this way for a reason.”

I remember listening to her in the exam room, tears rolling down my face, and wincing at the pain in my back as I sat up on the table. She didn’t sway my decision, just altered the route. I still love her, and am still glad I went through with it.

How long is the recovery process (ie, how long out of work and till you can exercise again?)?
I’m not allowed to drive for one week post-surgery. I work at a hospital, so we have what is called EIB (Extended Illness Bank). It’s time that is accrued separate from vacation time so that I can use it if I have a surgery, an illness, or even a baby. So, I’ve been using that time this week.

Luckily, I work in a “desk job” so if driving this weekend is still not great, I have the flexibility to work remotely if I need to. However, I’m REALLY looking forward to getting back into the office and into a routine.

As far as working out, I thought I was going to want to start lifting weights and doing sit-ups immediately – match the rest of my body to the smaller boobs. I am actually terrified right now of even helping me dog up on the couch, so I can’t picture working out or leaning too hard on my arms.

After 2-3 weeks I should be cleared to walk with the dog (someone else will be holding the leash) and doing things like yoga. But, my research has found that I won’t be able to lift more than 5 pounds for around 2 months. So, I may look into doing some Barre3 online workouts for the next few weeks.

Have you pooped yet?
OH my god. If you’re getting ready to have this procedure done, stock up on all the Colace and MiraLAX you can. I’m not even kidding. Yes, after a few days things are finally getting back to normal.

What size were you? What size did you go to?
I was a 36H, but pushing out of it. I refused to buy larger bras since I was confident a reduction was in my future.

I’m pretty swollen right now but my surgeon said I’ll end up being between a 36C and 36D. Which I’m happy about. I requested a C and he said a D would look better on my frame.

Any post-surgery symptoms/needs you weren’t expecting?
The bathroom thing I was expecting but I was NOT expecting it to be as bad as it was.

My right thigh is also numb on the outside. Which is so weird. The surgeon said it may be because of the weighted brace they had on me during surgery. I think it also may be the way I sit/lay down. During the day it’s not a huge deal but at night when I’m trying to sleep it’s really uncomfortable.

Sleeping is also really challenging. I’m a belly sleeper, so having to sleep on my back and slightly elevated has been painful. Not literally, but literally annoying. I’m writing this less than one-week post-surgery and I was able to lay slightly to my left side, which has helped with the numbness in my right leg. But, it’s still not completely comfortable.

How much weight did you lose from the surgery?
I didn’t to this for weight loss. I did this because of the pain in my neck and my back, but I knew that it would help in my weight loss journey, since exercising was nearly impossible with torpedoes hanging off my front.

From 11/23 (morning of surgery) to 11/27 I lost 7.6 lbs. I think about 4 lbs is boob, and the rest of water weight. I’m on strict instructions to drink A LOT of water.

Did your insurance cover it? And if so, how did you get it approved?
This was quite a process. I have an OMNIA plan with Horizon BCBS of NJ, but also work for a large hospital system. So, I encourage you to do research with your insurance provider.

Last summer I reached out to Horizon customer service to inquire on what I needed to get the procedure approved. I was told that I needed it to be proven medically necessary. I would need 6 months of preventative treatment and letters from two medical professionals, one of which specializes in the spine, saying it is medically necessary as well as the information from the plastic surgeon (measurements, details on surgery, photos, etc).

From there I started going to the chiropractor. He then referred me to a plastic surgeon. And then I made an appointment with an orthopedist to make sure my spine was ok.  He prescribed physical therapy, so I started on that. We submitted everything to the insurance company and it was denied.

I went back to the orthopedist to see if any of my preventive measures (chiro and PT) were helping. Unsurprisingly, they were not. So, he wrote another letter to the insurance company. The resubmission was approved within 2 weeks and the plastic surgeon and called and got me on the schedule.

Some insurance companies require more documentation, some require less. Others base it off how much will be taken. I cannot express enough how important it is to call your insurance company and ask the questions. All of the them.

For example, my procedure was originally scheduled on October 23 at a location closer to my home. I called to find out if it was part of my plan and was told it was, but not at the highest coverage. So, I’d end up paying close to $7,000 out of pocket. Because I called to check, I saved myself A LOT of money.

Any tips for someone preparing to get the procedure?
Aside from the obvious of writing down your questions for your surgeon, joining an online support group, and doing your research? Do as many sit-ups and squats as you can every day until your surgery. I had no idea how much I was going to rely on my stomach muscles and leg muscles since I couldn’t use my chest.

If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.


Breast Reduction Surgery: Surgery Day

Xanax is the only reason I got a good night’s sleep. I was nervous as heck. And even wrote out instructions for my aunt to paint my nails, in case I didn’t make it through surgery.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. Took a shower, blow dried my hair, and then stared at myself in the mirror for a little bit. This was the last time I’d see my chest like this so I wanted to soak it all in.

I was heading into breast reduction surgery.

We hit the road at 5:45 a.m. and arrived by 6:15 a.m. 15 minutes earlier than expected, in true Meg fashion.

It was like an out of body experience. I was going through the motions, in complete disbelief that I was actually doing this.

The staff at the Ambulatory Surgical Center where I had my procedure done was INCREDIBLE. They were so understanding of my nerves and showed so much compassion.

I had a little moment with my nurse when she asked about the tattoo on my wrist – “I love you” in my Dad’s writing. I finally let the water works go and let those tears flow.

Man, that felt better.

I have no recollection of time from the moment I got there until I left from the procedure. But, I felt like it was only a few minutes before my doctor came in to do the drawings.

I was so impressed at how precise he was. He was like a master finishing his canvas. He measured EVERYTHING. Everything was symmetrical. It was so impressive. I’m grateful at how intense he did everything, because... ya know. They are my boobs.

The first thing I said when he was done was, “THAT is where my nipple is going to be?! All the way up there!?” He just laughed. So did my mother when I recreated the moment and showed her what the drawings looked like.

The anesthesiologist came to ask me some questions (I can’t remember if it was before or after the drawings) and I remember him asking specifically about heartburn. I told him that I only get heartburn if I have too much wine.

Next thing I knew, I was walking (yes, walking) into the operating room. There was 6 or 7 people in there already. They told me to lie on the table and put my arms out on the pads and I got really emotional. The nurse who walked me in said, “Don’t worry, we’re just getting things prepped before you go to sleep.”

Then my anesthesiologist spoke to my heart. He said, “Ok Meg. I’m going to give you the biggest glass of wine you’ve ever had. And this one will not give you heartburn.”

Sweet Jesus. He did me good.

I don’t remember much after that. The conversations afterwards are kind of fuzzy but according to my mom I asked everyone how they looked.

The ride home is a blur. I woke up 2-3 times to see where on the highway I was. And then slept for a good portion of the day.

I’m writing this Day 3 post-op and feeling slight discomfort and pain. Moving is not very easy. And I am peeing like crazy because of how much water I’m drinking.

I’ll do another post later in the week, but so many of you were asking about surgery day so I wanted to share a quick update.

I will tell you that this was 100% the best decision I could’ve made. I already feel so much relief in my neck from the amount of weight that has been removed. It’s amazing. And now looking at pictures from before, I’m actually grossed out at how big my chest was.

I can’t thank you all enough for your kind words, prayers, and comments on my posts leading up to this surgery. I’m so grateful I decided to share my story because it’s helped so many of you.


Breast Reduction Surgery: Farewell to "The Girls"

If you are reading this after 7:30 a.m. on November 23, I am either under the knife or recuperating from breast reduction surgery. I thought, what better way to celebrate this day then to write a letter to “the girls.”

To “The Girls”, as we part ways-

I literally can’t believe this day has come. I’m almost in denial. For the last 23 years, I’ve known nothing but you.

I can’t remember what life was like before you. Seriously. Walking around with no bra. Sitting in a chair with my back straight, not needing to readjust myself every few minutes. Exercising!

It must’ve been nice.

We’ve been through it all together. I showed you off in low-cut shirts and bathing suits when you were a manageable size. I covered you up and wore minimizer bras when you got out of hand (sometimes out of TWO hands, like now).

You’ve been there for me at times when I needed some support. You know, holding my phone while walking the dog, catching food that would’ve otherwise ended up on my lap, and acting as a pillow for all the babies I’ve held.

They call me the baby whisperer because I could put any baby to sleep. (I wonder if I’ll lose that title now that you’re gone).

I’ve gotten free drinks because of you. I’ve gotten out of gym class because I had forgotten my sports bra because of you. And I’ve had the opportunity to experience motor boating by more than one girlfriend, all thanks to you.

But you’ve also caused me tremendous pain, almost as bad as heartache.

You’ve tried to kill me through suffocation whenever I forgot a beach chair and needed to lay on my back – or when I attempted to do sit ups.

You’ve made it difficult to breathe when running, or even walking up a hill. ‘

And the back pain has gotten so severe that I can’t get through a day without Icy Hot or a heating pad.

I struggled with parting ways with you. I was convinced that the male attention I always got was thanks to you. After my first consultation at the age of 20, I thought that losing you was a way of losing my identity. I’d lose my femininity and what makes me “Me.”

Today, I put my foot down and declare that enough is enough. Instead of reaching a level we were all comfortable with, you didn’t stop growing.

You made exercise next to impossible, which in turn has forbidden me from getting healthy. You made me uncomfortable in my skin and my clothing, which has completely ruined my confidence. And you made me feel like all a man was interested in me for was for you, which made me lose faith in the opposite sex.

You’ll still be there, but a much more manageable version of you. I’ll be able to buy a bra off the sale rack at a local store instead of special ordering them online for more than my cell phone bill costs monthly.

I’m going to exercise, maybe run a 5K, and rock a bathing suit with the same confidence I had in 6th grade when you showed up before everyone else’s.

Don’t think of this as me getting rid of you, but instead me trading you in for a better version so that I can be a better version of myself.

It’s not me. It’s you. And in order for me to be happy, you’ve gots to go.

Bye Felicia (aka “The Girls.”)


Breast Reduction: Getting Prepared

If this is the first post you’re stumbling upon, I encourage to read how I decided to go through with breast reduction surgery.

Question: Do you need to do anything to prepare?

I’m a pretty intense Type A person, so once I had the surgery date on the calendar I went to work researching what to expect and how I could prepare.

Thankfully I have had a few friends who have had the procedure (and even more have come forth since I shared that I am getting it done) and shared their journey. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting myself ready for what I anticipated I’ll need, but I’ll update post-surgery on what I did and didn’t actually need.

Small pillow
I’ll be required to refrain from driving for at least one week post-op, but once I get back on the road again I’m nervous for the bumps, pot holes, and the like. A lot of articles shared that using a small pillow as a buffer between you and your seat belt helped a lot for the irritation of the belt, but also to keep things in place while driving.

Button-up shirts and comfortable tank tops
Since I’ll be out of work for the week following surgery, I anticipate LOTS of lounge wear. But once I’m back in the office, comfort is key. I have a few loose-fitting sweaters that go great with slacks or a cute skirt, but I also have a few button-up shirts that will be easy to get on and get going.

Sports bras
This is a mandatory. I purchased three sports bras to start off with that are specific to post-surgery. They zip in the front and have no underwire, so it provides the support needed, are easy to put on and take off, and won’t bother the incisions.

Whenever I take a stay-cation I tend to use that time to get errands done instead of actually relax. This time, I’m FORCED to hang on the couch with the dog for a while. So, I’ve got some great books lined up on my kindle.

Another book I heard about that has helped pre-surgery was When Less Is More: The Complete Guide for Women Considering Breast Reduction Surgery by Bethanne Snodgrass M.D. It’s actually what inspired me to share my story with this blog and my social media followers.

Scar creams
I think I’m most nervous for how things will look afterwards, so I’m laser-focused on scarring and helping my body heal. Lots of water is in my future, and good foods to nourish my body. But in addition to that I’ve purchased two creams: Mederma Advanced Scar Cream and Mederma PM Intensive Overnight Scar Cream. I know it’ll be a bit before I’m able to start using it, but I wanted it handy so as soon as things start to look like they are healing I’m ready to go.

In addition to the Mederma products, Rodan + Fields is great for scarring. A few months post-op I plan to begin to use some of the R+F products that are known to help scarring.

If you’ve had a surgical procedure, or specifically a breast reduction, what did you find helpful to have on-hand? Let me know!

Breast Reduction: My journey to YES

I shared on my Instagram a few days ago that I am scheduled for breast reduction surgery. WHOA! That’s so weird to say.

I was grateful that so many of you reached out to me to ask questions. I was nervous to share this news, but have always been someone who puts myself out there in hopes of helping someone in the same boat.

So, over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing about my journey, and hopefully covering many of the questions I’ve been asked thus far.

First, I feel like I need to explain how bra sizes are measured. The band size is the number you see in a bra size. If you’re curious, take a measuring tape (preferably a fabric one) and measure around your torso, directly under your bust. If the number is even, add four inches; if it’s odd, add five.

Second, you need to figure out the cup (or the letter). Take the same measuring tape and measure around your chest, across your nipples. You then take that number and subtract your band size number. Depending on what the difference is, that’ll determine your cup size.

Example: If your bust size is 38 inches and your band size is 36 inches, that’s a 2 inch difference which translates into a 36B.

Question: WHY would you make the decision to get rid of something that God has so graciously blessed you with?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a large chest. I swear they popped out of nowhere overnight when I was in the sixth grade.

I started high school wearing a B-cup bra and ended high school wearing a DD-cup bra. I joke that I grew one cup every year, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it happened. For those who are unfamiliar with bra sizes, that’s like 3 or 4 inches of boob that were added to my band measurement.

I was active in high school, but my chest size always made me uncomfortable. I remember trying to get out of gym class by telling the teacher I forgot my sports bra and couldn’t run.

In college, I acquired the nickname “Boobs.” I tell ya, college-aged boys are very creative. And they just didn’t stop growing, which made physical activity (competitive cheerleading and exercising) very difficult.

I wasn’t really self-conscious about my chest size until I was in my early 20’s. I was a nanny and remember wearing a two-piece with confidence to the country club pool that the family belonged to. ALL of the stay-at-home moms who were with their children were rocking tankinis and one-piece bathing suits. When I took my cover up off, all eyes were glued to me. My boss joked that “they are just jealous because what you have naturally, their husbands have to pay money for.”

That was the first and last time I wore a two-piece to the pool at work.

When I was 21 or 22 I went for a consultation for a reduction. I remember looking at photos of patients before me and thinking how they must feel so much better. Alas, when I left the office, I felt sad. Almost as if taking my chest away from me was me losing part of my identity.

And here I am now, at 33 years old, just days away from going under the knife and removing 5 lbs of extra weight from my torso.

So, WHY am I finally going through with this procedure?

  • I have dents in my shoulder that are so deep they probably will never go away
  • I can’t sit at a restaurant for longer than 10 mins without my back feeling strained
  • I have a constantly strained nerve on the right side of my neck that sends a paralyzing shriek across the right side of my body when I reach for something in my trunk or the like
  • My bras cost $85 at a minimum ($65 if they are on sale), sports bras range about $50 or more and are suffocating, and bathing suits don’t start under $100 (for just the top)
  • I don’t remember what it’s like to lay on the beach, my bed, the floor, or a couch flat on my back and being able to breath without my shoulders and neck being elevated

That’s not even the complete list, but I’ll spare you too many details. I’m just a few days away from this life-changing experience and will absolutely document more along the way.

If you’ve considered getting a reduction, or are experiencing some of the things I have shared above, I encourage you to reach out to me. I’d love to chat more and help you in your decision process.