As a child, I admired the voluptuous blondes like Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Edie Adams. OK, this dates me, but these were the women I had pictures of on my walls when I was twelve years old and so skinny the kids at school called me "Bird Legs." One of my aunts (a real forward-thinker, apparently) bought me a bra that was about a B cup. I stuffed it full of socks and thought I was really something (I weighed 70 pounds soaking wet, so that B cup was HUGE on me...and, no, I didn't wear it in public...because my mother wouldn't let me!)!
I grew permanently into a B cup for real after the birth of my first child (I was 20 at the time). Then, when I hit my early 30s, I grew another cup size (who knows why?). In my late 30s, I grew into a D cup! This was amazing and I can't explain it. I had my second child at 38 and, after all the nursing was over, I remained a 34 DD/F cup. This didn't seem to change whether I gained or lost weight, so I thought it was permanent. I had an "attitude" about breast augmentation. I thought it was harmful, would result in an "unnatural" look, and would cause me to lose all sensitivity in my nipples (a significant fear for me, since, unlike many women, I can have an orgasm with nipple stimulation alone...I didn't want to lose that!).
Then, last fall, I lost 20 pounds on a diet designed to target FAT loss. I was delighted with the loss, but I lost more than that pudgy tummy: I lost cup sizes! I was down to an extremely saggy 34C AND the skin on my tummy looked like it had melted! (see my before pictures in the visitors gallery)
For some time before this, my husband had been researching breast implants and had found Nicole's site. When I finally said I was unhappy with how my breasts looked, he showed me this forum. Reading the posts and stories here helped me change my mind and make the decision to have implants.
I went to a doctor (who had done some lipo on my tummy and hips and a laser resurfacing around my eyes the year before) for a consultation. She didn't do BAs, but her opinion was that I would need the "anchor" lift if I did my boobs and she was sure I needed a tummy tuck because all that skin, at my age (47), wasn't likely to ever shrink back into shape. She gave me a quote on the tummy tuck, but I knew I wanted to do both procedures together, so I started looking for another PS.
This turned out to be a good thing. I've since discovered that my first doctor is NOT a board certified PS (I learned at Nicole's site how to find this out...I didn't have this info before) and I'm very glad I didn't go to her for the more extensive tummy tuck surgery (she would've had another surgeon come in for that and assisted him...now I realize the other surgeon may not have been board certified, either!).
We started the search for a surgeon. Thanks to my husband's efforts, we found two female surgeons that sounded like possibilities (I wanted to go to a woman for this). They were both in La Jolla, CA, which is about 70 miles from where we live, and both in the same medical building! We made an appointment with one surgeon, then I chickened out and cancelled.
A few weeks later, we were able to make appointments for initial consultations with both of these surgeons on the same day. So, we took the day off work and went to La Jolla. Larry was with me all the way.
The first surgeon I liked a lot and I thought her staff was really nice. She spent a lot of time with us. Her opinion was that I should have under the muscle implants, about 600cc, with probably a Binelli lift, and a tummy tuck. We made a surgery date. Then, when we left her office, Larry said to me "What if you like the next surgeon even better?" and I said "I can't imagine that, but we'll deal with it if it happens."
The second surgeon was THE ONE! Dr. Lori Saltz was so COOL!!!! For example, I, at 47, had never had a mammogram. When she heard that, she said "Put your hand up here on the table so I can slap it!" She's terrific!
She looked at the pictures we brought and was willing to work with me to get the result I wanted without a lift. I told her I wanted to "fill 'em up" and she said we could do that! So we decided on 800cc, round, textured, McGhan implants (overfilled as necessary to get the result we wanted), over the muscle (because I had so much of my own breast tissue), and a full tummy tuck. She was so straight with her answers about everything and so savvy about what results I wanted and why I wanted them the way I did! I can't say enough good things!
Naturally, I cancelled the first surgery and scheduled my surgery with Dr. Saltz instead. She gave me a terrific folder of information, personalized for the particular procedures I was going to have, outlining all the details of what I should and shouldn't do before surgery, and what I might expect afterward. Plus, her staff was available to talk to me, also, about questions as they arose. And, I hope she doesn't mind me telling this, but she had had both procedures done at the same time herself, so she could tell me FIRST HAND what to expect!
I had to get that first mammogram, of course, and Dr. Saltz's staff helped me arrange that with a place that could get me in much sooner than my regular doctor could. Not only that, at the place they arranged for me, there was a radiologist on site who was able to tell me WHILE I WAS THERE that all was normal and I didn't have to wait to know if there were any problems (there weren't any).
My first consultation with Dr. Saltz was right before Christmas. My pre-op exam was December 28th and my surgery was scheduled for January 7. It was all so fast I didn't have a lot of time to think any negative thoughts, which was good!
At my pre-op, the nurse who took my blood and stats was so funny! My husband, Larry, was with me for this and we were asking her how soon after surgery we could have sex again. She said "Oh, you can't! You'll never have sex again!" Then, to Larry, she said, "She'll look terrific, but you can't touch her!" We were laughing so hard!!!
Surgery day was kind of strange. We got in the car to drive the 70 miles to La Jolla and we were excited, scared, and nervous (at least, I was, and I know Larry is always worried about whether or not I'm going to be OK about things). On the way, we got pulled over by a Highway Patrolman and got a speeding ticket! I like to think of this as our Boob Ticket, although poor Larry is the one who had to go to Traffic School!
When we got to the clinic, we were ushered into the pre-op room where I changed into my "stylish" gown and slippers (and the lovely socks that you wear to help prevent embolisms). Then Dr. Saltz came in and drew lines on my tummy for the tummy tuck and on my breasts for the BA and we talked a little about the implants I was getting. I wore some bikini underwear so she could draw the lines in areas that would be covered by the bikini (of course, I wore my skimpiest ones, to challenge her further). Then she introduced me to my recovery room nurse and they went away to prepare for the surgery. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to us. He turned out to be Dr. Saltz's husband, which was really cool! He was very nice and told us that we'd already done the most dangerous part of the surgery...the drive there!
Then I kissed Larry and went with the nurse to the surgery suite. I climbed up on the softest, best padded bed I'd ever been on and the anesthesiologist started talking to me and working with me. He gave me a local before inserting the IV, which made that so easy! Then, they kept talking to me until, within a few minutes, I was out like a light! I woke up to PAIN! I remember waking up and thinking, "Can I turn back the clock and not do this?" The major pain was in my tummy, not my boobs. My tummy was so intense, I didn't even notice the pain in my breasts! I guess I was in and out of consciousness for a bit. I was really nauseated and I thought I was going to throw up. They gave me some medication in my IV and put a little tray under my chin. I don't think I threw up (I really don't remember), but after a couple of doses of that medication, I wasn't nauseated anymore. I remember Larry coming in and telling me he loved me and that he was going to go home and he'd be back the next day. I have no idea what I said to him!
Then, the ambulance people came to transfer me to the post-op area at the hospital just a few yards away. I recall thinking I was sure I couldn't do anything to get onto the gurney, then them telling me to relax and not try to help them, that they knew what to do! They picked up the bedding I was lying on and amazingly quickly transferred me to the stretcher. One of the ambulance attendants was a woman and she was the one who was with me the whole time. She was so nice and we chatted all the way to the hospital. I wish I could remember the conversation!
They wheeled me into my room and did the amazing super-lift to get me onto my hospital bed. I'm still amazed that they can do that stuff without causing you any real pain!
It was great to have the hospital that first night. All I had to do was push the button and say "Can I have some Demerol?" to get the painkillers I needed. I had a catheter in my bladder, so I didn't have to get up (this is because of the tummy tuck...I doubt you'd have a catheter for a BA alone), so I could just lay in the bed and get taken care of without having to move at all. It was wonderful! (OK, it was incredibly painful, but the wonderful part was that I didn't have to move!) Plus, they had me connected to this wonderful machine that massaged my legs all night. It was to prevent embolisms, but for me it was a wonderfully comforting thing. It was like having someone there all night to attend to me.
The next morning, my nurse removed the catheter. That was the first step on the road to recovery. Now I could finally go to the bathroom for myself. It was horribly difficult getting out of bed, but, once I was up, it felt kind of good to be upright and almost mobile. I still had the IV attached, but I could go to the bathroom on my own. Amazing how empowering that can be! ;-> Also, my morning nurse took me down the hall for a walk. I had to push the IV stand, but it was nice to be able to not feel so confined. My PS came in at about 10am that morning (she had a cancelled appointment and was able to come earlier than she had expected to). She and her nurse were amazed to find me sitting in a chair! They told my nurse I could have the IV out, since I was so mobile and I was drinking so much liquid (I've always been big on liquids). They examined my boobs (and I was amazed at how HUGE they looked!) and my tummy and thought I was doing great!
My boobs were not bandaged (except for a dressing covering the breast-fold incisions). I was wearing a post-surgical bra that fastened in the front and actually had a little edge of lace around the top! (Cute!)
My husband and my son (he's 9) came to pick me up later that afternoon. My son had to come along, because he was worried about me. The first thing he said, though, when he saw me, was "How come your boobs are bigger?" Kids!
I was glad I had chosen some EXTREMELY loose-fitting clothes, since the tummy tuck makes you so puffy and sore. Larry had brought me several pillows (recommended by my sister, who's an RN for a PS) to pad the seatbelts in the car. That really made a difference. Even so, that drive home in the rush-hour traffic was pretty hairy for me! I kept worrying that someone would rear-end us and cause me more pain! The stress of that, of course, made me feel the pain more. We called my PS that night and asked her if I could take an extra pain pill. She said I could, but only this once (I am, after all, not a very large person!).
The first several nights I ended up sleeping in our recliner in the family room. I couldn't climb the stairs to the bedroom the first night, anyway. But I also couldn't lie down at all! For me, the BA was the lesser of the evils. With that alone, I'd have needed lots of pillows, but I could've slept in my own bed. The tummy tuck, however, kept me from being even remotely comfortable. And, there were the drains. I had two drains in my lower abdomen that had to be regularly recorded, emptied, then checked again. It was somewhat traumatic, although I realized, even then, that the alternative would've been horrible swelling and even worse discomfort!
At one week, I went back to have the drains removed. That was quite an experience and I'm glad it's over! It was only a few seconds of misery, but misery describes it better than "discomfort" does! It was downright creepy, especially since I had figured out that some of the odd "lumps" in my upper abdomen were the ends of the drains, so I knew exactly how long the tubes were! They also removed the stitches from my navel, but none of the others at that time. The stitch removal was not even remotely painful, thank goodness!
At this visit, Dr. Saltz told me that, when they were finished with the surgery and stood back to have a look at me (pre-swelling, of course), her first words were "She looks like a Barbie doll!" I was tickled!!!!
By the middle of the next week, I was alarmed at all the swelling in my lower abdomen. I called my PS's office and they told me it was nothing to worry about and, worse case scenario, I'd have to have some fluid drained off. I panicked at that! I have a thing about needles! The nurse assured me that it was a very tiny needle and I'd hardly feel a thing, but I was a basket case! (I wasn't even considering the fact that my lower abdomen was still so numb I probably wouldn't notice if they did another surgery!!!) Larry took another half day off work and drove me to La Jolla (I still couldn't drive at this point). When my PS examined me, she said I was fine, that it was simply tissue swelling and not excess fluid. I sighed with relief! No needles!!! After checking out my incisions, she decided that she could remove the stitches at this point with no ill effect. This was interesting. My stitches were all "blind stitches" (you could only see ends of thread at the ends of the incisions....looked like a fabric seam, all smooth with no "railroad tracks"). What she did was cut the knots at the ends of the stitches and just pull them out! It didn't even feel particularly strange. She put Steri-strips on all the incisions and told me I could start using Mederma or Vitamin E oil on them, once I was tired of keeping the Steri-strips on.
I told her that my BA pain hadn't been any worse than a bad month of PMS. She said "Then you must have some REALLY bad PMS!" Larry assured her that was the case! LOL!
Then, since I was having so much swelling, they stuffed me into one of those tight-fitting surgical girdles! I thought I wasn't going to be able to breathe! She told me that it might help the swelling, but I didn't have to wear it if it was uncomfortable. I wore it home, wore it the next day, then tossed it! I couldn't stand how tight it was under my ribcage!!!!
Dr. Saltz had also told me that lymphatic massage might help the swelling, so I called around and found a chiropractor who had massage therapists on staff who could do that type of massage. I've been doing that twice weekly since, and I believe it has been very helpful (plus, my medical insurance covers part of the cost of the therapy!).
At around 5 weeks, I think I hit the peak of my post-op depression. I was still swollen enough that I was wearing one size larger jeans than normal because the regular size hurt too much. My back was aching from not being able to stand up straight and not having a bra that fit properly for good support. My tummy still hurt a good bit and I was starting to have sciatica! I was feeling pretty low.
Larry helped me get it in perspective. He said, "If you could turn back the clock and not have any of this pain, but you'd have the same body you had before, would you do it?" That was an easy one. "No way!" I said. That did help me turn the corner and have a more positive attitude.
Looking at the before and after pictures really helps, too! Seeing all that tummy sag and how limp my boobs looked in those before pictures makes me gladder than ever that I did this! (see my after pictures in the visitors gallery)
I still had the problem, though, of finding a bra to fit. Instead of sending the Bra Wizard all my measurements, I talked to them on the phone for awhile and we kind of guesstimated the size I'd need. I ordered a 36FF from them, which was too big in the band and too small in the cup. So, I went to their shop (an hour's drive away...I'm lucky to be that close!). No wonder the one I ordered didn't fit... what I really needed was a 32H! YIKES!
Now, at 10 weeks post-op, I can even cover up most of the tummy tuck scarring with Dermablend and I can tell that, when it fades and is completely healed, it'll be no big deal at all. I can't even see my BA incisions unless I get a mirror and do some interesting gyrations with my boobs to get a peek!
One of the most interesting things, to me, is that NO ONE that I work with has noticed that I'm so much bigger! I told them about the tummy tuck, but not about the BA. I'm just amazed. The closest I've come to a real comment about it was when one of my coworkers said "Your middle is so much smaller it makes your bust look bigger!" I had a hard time not laughing out loud about that one!!!!
- SoCal Kathi