How one surgery changed my life—literally.
Let me take you on a journey back in time to when I was around 11 years old. Mother Nature decided it was my time to become a woman. Everything happened all at once for me; I got my period and not long after, my boobs came in. Let me tell you, they were not subtle at all.
As you can imagine, this was a shock to my pre-teen self. I was the first one to blossom into a woman while all my other friends hadn’t even considered the idea of puberty. My early entrance into womanhood came at a time when the boys in my elementary school were also reaching puberty.
I have vivid flashbacks of being in gym class and having all the boys stare at me. I remember feeling so self-conscious and embarrassed running and having these big boobs bouncing around. There were times where I had to wear two sports bras one on top of another—it was the only way to keep them in place even though I could barely breathe.
My back pain grew excruciating and my self-esteem was already obliterated. Many tears were shed and my mom decided enough is enough. She got a referral from my doctor to see a plastic surgeon for breast reduction surgery.
To this day, I remember being 15 years old going into that surgery consultation. I was absolutely terrified. My mom was in the room as the surgeon examined my exposed chest. As she explained the process of the surgery, I was looking into her eyes with terror. The surgeon informed us that there was a long waiting list for the procedure and we wouldn’t hear from the hospital for a while.
My parents and I were in for a rude awakening when the surgeon called to propose a surgery date for the following week. Emotionally, I was not ready. Who could be at that age?
I decided this was not the right time for me. Instead, I used this time in my life to get serious with my health. I was not a super big girl at the time, but I knew I could benefit from losing some weight. After some time, my determination paid off—I lost weight and my chest was smaller. When I started college, my priorities shifted. I invested all my energy in school and slowly but surely, the girls made another grand entrance.
Now well into my twenties, I’d had enough. It was time for me to feel free and confident in my body. To my surprise, the new surgery date came faster than I imagined: following my consultation this past April, the hospital called me at the end of September with an availability for Oct. 11.
On the day of the surgery, I was not as nervous as I imagined I’d be. I was more focused on the growling sounds of my empty stomach. The nerves only kicked in when I said goodbye to my mom and waited for the surgeon alone.
Being escorted to the OR was exactly like in Grey’s Anatomy. There were many machines and a gurney in the middle of the room. It finally hit me that this was about to happen. My fear of needles kicked in and I sobbed. A nurse in the OR held my face and helped me calm down. The last thing I remember before being put under anesthesia is being asked my doctor’s name—and I actually recited his full name. The entire OR laughed and he joked that his own mother doesn’t know his full name.
At almost one month post-op, I have some conflicting feelings about the whole experience. Last week, I discovered that the incisions had opened on both sides. I’ll spare you the gory details, but my chest didn’t look right.
After going back and forth from the hospital, my anxiety was at an all time high. I was getting a bunch of conflicting opinions of what was exactly happening with me.
To ease my mind, I scheduled a follow-up with my general doctor. He explained it’s possible for incisions to open, after a surgery like breast reduction. Thankfully, I did not have any symptoms of an infection; no swollen lymph nodes, redness around the incisions, and most importantly no fever. I just have to exude a bit more patience than I anticipated and let my body do its thing.
I don’t want my experience to impact anyone’s decision on whether to get the surgery or not. This period following the surgery has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, but I couldn’t have done it without everyone around me.
In the end, I don’t regret the surgery. I believe everyone deserves to feel at home in their bodies. It’s the first time in years where I can finally say “Damn, I look good!”