I am thinking any time they deconstruct your breast, removing the nipple completely and reattaching it. "difficult" is the perfect description for what you are about to feel once the full range of anesthesia wears off. The fact that a breast reduction (with a built in lift) is performed in an outpatient setting is extraordinary. However, my surgeon took 4.5 - 5 hours to complete a surgery that they normally do in 3.5 hours. She does this to ensure that she takes her time to give the best possible shape and outcome.
They sent me home, bandaged and packed into a surgical bra. Immediately I felt smaller, which was the goal after all. HA HA. There was a ton of swelling, so it would be impossible to really know my new body shape and new breast size. Over the first couple days I mainly slept off the lingering anesthesia. For me this always last several days to a week, depending on how long I was under general anesthesia to begin with. With my back surgery, after being under for 9 hours, I was groggy for the full week that I was in the hospital and then for another week/week and a half when I got home. So it was no surprise to myself or my family that I basically slept the first 5 days after getting home this time.
They did some liposuction under my arms as well, to get rid of that annoying little chicken cutlet fat pocket between the arm and breast that just about every woman gets. Only my doctor decided that she was going to smooth out just under my arm, along my sides just a bit more to minimize the bra bulge that we women get from wearing bras, which can migrate the fat and tissue from our breasts into the underarm area. (WOOT WOOT) This was nice of her...but I have to say the bruising from that liposuction was far more painful in the first 5 days than the reconstructed breasts themselves. This is probably due to the fact that the nerves in my breasts have been severed and reattached. The swelling and numbness has been incredible. It is almost as if my breasts aren't mine.
There has been one minor red flag, though it was a short lived one. My left breast was having some difficulty in eliminating the fluid that collects in the area during the healing process. This caused the tissue directly under the incision on the bottom (the "anchor") to swell out. This caused the breast to appear as if it had been cut, an inch from the base, and sewn back on an inch off center. However, once I started back on ibuprofen for pain, instead of Percocet, the swelling began to go down. By the next morning, the bulge was noticeably smaller. Now, three days later, the fluid is almost fully eliminated and I am starting to have more natural looking (as well as even) breasts. This fluid retention is common and is often the reason why drains are used.
The healing process has been a steady one. Slowly, the sensation has returned, for the most part, to my breasts as a whole. Sometimes the tissue, especially the nipples, will not have proper blood flow and will start to die. They said to watch for this in the nipples, as this tissue death will happen there first. However, I'm please to announce (be it awkwardly) that this has not been the case for me thus far and everything looks a nice and healthy pink shade, where the yellow, black and blue of the bruising hasn't settled that is.
I'm still limited in my activities. No bouncing at all....so no exercising yet. (Bummer.) No regular bras for at least another week. So I'm still wearing a surgical bra, though I did order a new one since the one they sent me home in was too big to begin with, and once the swelling started to dissipate it didn't do anything to help with the compression necessary for fluid absorption.This bra must be worn 24/7 for the first 2 weeks at least.
Sleeping has gotten more difficult, rather than easier. At first, sitting slightly upright is necessary and you must remain on your back. The first couple days, this isn't so much of an issue. Being on pain medication allows you to sleep fairly comfortably in one position all night. However, as the body starts to heal, you long to change positions and lay in your usual ways when sleeping. I'm a side and back sleeper, but I can't sleep the way I'm comfortable because I have to lay on my back, propped up still, in order to avoid pressure on the incisions.
I watched a lot of YouTube videos in the time leading up to my surgery, and I found a lot of great insights to the recovery process. However, there were a lot of things that I feel weren't mentioned by people. So, I'm going to give you some of the things that I noticed in this first week.
- You can't lift your arms. - You aren't allowed to lift your arms so that your elbows raise higher than your shoulders. This means, no getting a glass from the cabinet, no driving, no showering yourself, no styling your own hair, no getting yourself dressed...etc.
- You will not want to go anywhere. - Seriously. You won't want to go anywhere while you are only able to wear the surgical bra. At least not for the first few days.
- Your breasts will not be the only things swollen. - Your abdomen will likely be swollen, as will your legs and arms and much of the rest of your body. You can be so swollen that your body feels like a water balloon, with the skin so taut that it feels hard when pressed. It will take up to a week for this swelling to go down enough that you can squeeze into anything other than yoga pants. Just drink tons of water and wait for it to flush out of your system.
- Your stomach will suddenly look pudgy/pudgier than it did before. - Even after the swelling has gone down and you have returned to a more normal size, you will feel like the stay-puft marshmallow man. Your breasts used to hold your shirts out and away from your body more, creating a tenting effect that obscured your midsection. This tenting is greatly diminished, even with the remaining swelling a week later. Give yourself time, don't be too hard on your body. It will take time to get used to the new shape and you won't be able to exercise for a while. So eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, be patient and BE KIND to yourself.
Overall, I'm excited to see what it is all going to end up looking like. I'm anxious to return to "normal life" with work and all, but I know I have to give my body the time it truly needs to heal. I'm on day one of week two post-op, so I'm looking forward to what this week will hold for me and my new boobs.
On a side note, I named them this week. The right one, I call "Frank" and the left is called "Stein"....so at least for now they are "Frank & Stein". LOL In time I'm sure this change...but it works for now. :-)