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.

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