Two Des Moines Mom contributors recently had breast reduction surgeries. Stacie Leinen and Niki Smith both contribute their personal experiences below. Remember to consult with your doctors regarding any health decisions.
Benefits of a breast reduction, or why to have one
Making the choice to do any surgery is a big one – and should be considered carefully with your family and your doctors. Niki and Stacie share their personal experiences below, but we recommend you consult your doctors for their thoughts. Both moms supported each other through the surgeries and had other women to consult during the process. This helped guide the process along, so they want to share their experiences to better your quality of life.
I ran track and cross country in high school and I miss being able to run comfortably. My discomfort got to the point where I couldn’t even sit at the dinner table without being in pain. I also have a mild history of breast cancer in my family, so this was an easy decision to make. My general doctor was literally jumping for joy after I told her the surgery was scheduled. I wanted to do this for a longer life, and hopefully a healthier and more comfortable one at that. While Stacie had instant back and neck relief, mine was more on my chest. I can breathe so much easier. I had no idea that I was having trouble breathing.
My back, neck and shoulders were always sore. I tried regular chiropractic care, physical therapy, at home stretches, heat & ice treatments, Tylenol & Ibuprofen, using a TENs machine, regular massage therapy (up to twice monthly). Nothing was working or providing any sort of long-term relief. It was starting to have an impact on my daily life. I couldn’t exercise without causing more pain. Even walking for more than 30 minutes caused my neck & shoulders to burn. I had spoken with my primary care physician about the possibility and she was 100% on board.
Choosing a surgeon
Stacie worked with a surgeon at MercyOne Plastic Surgery, while Niki worked with a surgeon at Iowa Clinic Plastic Surgery. Each of their surgeons did the surgery without drains, but this definitely depends on a lot of factors including the surgeons preference, what kind of surgery is happening, and the person getting it done. Start the conversation either with your OBGYN or your general doctor. They can recommend a surgeon or work with your request. Niki’s own OBGYN had the surgery herself and had great recommendations.
This is the hardest part, and a major factor if you are considering the surgery. Neither Stacie nor Niki had drains, which was based on their personal surgeries and ultimately a choice by the surgeon.
You cannot lift anything over 10 pounds for six weeks. You will need someone with you for the first week to help you shower, change bandages, lift things, do the dishes and laundry, take items down from top shelves, and sometimes even help you sit up.
You will also wear a bra 100% of the time, even sleeping, for however long your doctor recommends.
How to talk to your kids
We had several discussions leading up to the surgery about how I would be very sore and they would have to be very careful and I wouldn’t be able to pick them up for a while but that I would get better quickly. Both of my children did very well and were very educated and understanding during the entire process. And I will never forget picking up my son from school one day and he came running outside and yelled, “Mom! How are your boobs today??! 🤦”
We both were very open with our children about the surgery. I reminded them that while this will be hard, it is to give me a longer and happier life. I promised them I would be able to play on the floor with them more. I was saddest about missing out on snuggles, so I took both kids to Build-A-Bear for something to snuggle while I recovered.
Remember, you can’t lift anything over 10 pounds for 6 weeks, and that will likely include your children. This is a huge factor in when to decide to have the surgery. Some women wait until after they are done having children. My doctor said some women are still able to breastfeed after having the surgery.
What you need
- A recovery buddy
- Front-zip bras
- Aquaphor or Bacitracin. These will help with the healing scars, but don’t use it until your doctor says.
- Additional gauze or padding. Pro tip: maxi pads provide great comfort
- Nice to have items:
- Spray deodorant, so you don’t have to lift your arms
- A stool to sit while you shower
- A boppy-like pillow to wear while you drive or ride in a car
- Non-stick bandage tape
Ultimately, a breast reduction is a major surgery with a long recovery no matter what kind of surgery you have. However, it’s worth it to breathe better, feel better, and extend the quality of your life with your kids. If you are considering a breast reduction start by talking to your doctor. And feel free to reach out to Niki or Stacie if you want to ask more questions!