A Patient’s Journey

Read about a patient’s surgical experience

Being a KK cup size, I really struggled with the size of my breasts. Not only did they restrict my movement, they were creating all sorts of health complications. The weight of them alone was causing significant muscular and skeletal damage, which eventually became so severe I was told I would need major shoulder surgery. But to me that seemed ridiculous – I knew my breasts were the root of the problem, so didn’t it make sense to address that issue instead?

Deciding to take matters into my own hands, I contacted a plastic surgeon about having a breast reduction, or ‘reduction mammoplasty’ as it is technically called. However, when we met he said he wouldn’t perform the operation unless I lost some weight. Five stone in weight, to be precise. I was stunned. The reason I was overweight in the first place was because my breasts prevented me from exercising. I left the appointment feeling so upset and let-down. If I needed to lose weight to have the procedure, but my breasts made that physically impossible, then it seemed I was stuck in a vicious circle. I felt I had nowhere else to turn.

A few months later I met up with a friend for coffee and told her about what had happened. I was on the brink of despair but she told me not to give up. Her work colleague had recently had a breast reduction and was absolutely raving about the results – maybe the same surgeon could help? A few phone calls later she had Lisa’s name and number and urged me to book an appointment, saying a second opinion wouldn’t hurt.

I’m so glad I took her advice! The moment I met Lisa I could tell her practice was special. She obviously cares about her patients and is passionate about helping them. We sat down with a cup of tea and discussed exactly what I wanted done, and why. Lisa was extremely sympathetic and explained that, unlike many other surgeons, she is able to operate on patients with a higher BMI. This is because she is the only one in the country to use the vertical scar technique, a very safe method even with big reductions. She described the operation in more detail, showing me before and after pictures of previous patients to demonstrate how my body was likely to change.

I left the hospital feeling so relieved. I needed this procedure for my health, more than anything, and I was glad it was finally being sorted. The second consultation soon came around and Lisa described the procedure again, going through the risks and limitations, and making sure I was completely happy with everything. She had already measured my breasts and taken photographs in our previous meeting, so all that was left to do was to go through the consent forms.

On the day of the operation I was feeling quite nervous but the team at St Mary’s did everything they could to make me feel at ease. I went in at 7am and was shown to my own en-suite room where I had a pre-operative assessment with a nurse. She took my blood pressure, did an ECG, took a blood sample and told me to call if I needed anything else. When she left the anaesthetist came round for a chat and not long after Lisa arrived to mark me up for surgery. After that I didn’t have to wait long to be taken down into theatre.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room and being taken back to my room. My chest was a little uncomfortable, but the nurses were so attentive and offered me painkillers to keep my discomfort at bay. The anaesthetic made me feel a little groggy, so after I’d eaten a little bit of food I spent the rest of the day dosing and watching TV. Lisa visited during the afternoon to check how I was feeling, and again in the morning to change the dressings. She told me that, if possible, she likes to do this herself. Although they were changed in the night, the nurse had to phone first for permission. As my husband says, Lisa is passionate as well as a perfectionist!

Before being discharged a psychologist came to my bedside to explore whether I had any issues regarding my body image. Because I’d had the procedure for medical reasons the consultation didn’t last very long, but both she and Lisa put their numbers in my mobile and told me to call if ever I needed them. I found this very reassuring, as I knew help was only a phone call away.

Once at home I took care to avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting. Lisa rang a couple of times to check everything was OK and within a week I was back in her office to have my dressings changed once again. Although my breasts were still swollen I could already tell how great the improvement was. She had removed around 10 pounds of tissue so I was feeling much lighter! They were now a DD cup and the relief upon my torso was incredible. What’s more the scars were very neat and ran straight down from the areola, making them very discreet.

I did have a little set-back a fortnight post-op when fluid started to leak from the wounds. I called Lisa and she asked me to come in as soon as possible. In actual fact it was just a bit of necrotic fat seeping through the incisions, a side-effect of having so much tissue excised. But Lisa took a swab to test for infection just in case and told me to return every week for the following month.

It’s now a year since I had the operation and I’m so pleased with the results. She carried out my breast reduction when I thought no one else would, and it’s changed my body – and my health – for the better. I still see her regularly as she operates an open-door policy, something which is part and parcel of the exceptional level of care I have experienced throughout this entire journey.

 

 

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