Breast Uplift and Reduction- My Experience with the NHS

A mum from our playground went into hospital for cosmetic surgery this week. She was unashamed, in fact positively excited, and posted proudly on her Facebook page that she was going in for "new baps."

"Well good for her", I thought. People have wildly varying views on cosmetic surgery but as one who has had a breast reduction and uplift I am generally supportive of anyone, whatever gender, who feels strongly enough about an aspect of their body to put themselves at risk and through pain to change it.

woman in bra after NHS breast reduction and uplift

I say generally. I do wonder about so called celebs who have multiple surgeries to create monster boobs or those people who pay surgeons to create odd facial features - yes, I'm thinking of those weird human Barbies and the strange cat woman.

Let me tell you my story.

As a teen I was completely flat chested. I was teased I was so tiny. I don't actually remember it being a huge issue for me - I think I used to quip "more than a handful is a waste."

And then I started having children and my boobs grew and grew and grew. And drooped and drooped. Bras starting costing as much as a small car and I remember one woman in one shop saying they only dealt in "normal" sizes. Nice.

After years of hearing jokes about "Here she comes -dead heat in a zeppelin race" and trying to reduce breast size through dieting I realised that surgery was probably my only solution to neck ache, migraine, sore, raw shoulders and back ache, and a tendency to drape myself in tent-like tops.

I was 34J. I wore size 20 tops and size 12 jeans. And these were no perky page 3 norks. These were stretch marked potato sacks with a raw red and occasionally not so aromatic eczema lurking underneath. Sunbathing was out as I would end up with half moons on my biceps where my boobs rested.  Running and almost any kind of exercise was painful and oddly they don't make sports bras in those sizes.

My GP suggested my migraines were caused by neck strain caused by my humungous breasts and offered to refer me to an NHS consultant.

A few weeks later the at the hospital appointment the consultant asked about my weight loss efforts, my feelings about my breasts and my physical symptoms then asked me what size I wanted to be. I answered that I didn't care as long as I could avoid blacking both eyes when running for a bus. He chose a C cup but warned future weight gain and age could well increase cup size and shape.

He told me I was eligible for NHS breast reduction (and suggested the uplift too) and after some marker pen action on my boobs - not awkward at all bizarrely-promised to be in touch with a date.

Only a couple of weeks later I had a call saying there was a gap and could I make the following week?  Childcare hastily arranged I went shopping for sports bras in a c-cup (advised for support after surgery) and couldn't resist browsing all the pretty little bras I would soon be able to buy.

The actual surgery is a bit of a blur. I remember being frightened about needles and anaesthetics and being a bit shocked as my breasts looked rather square in the tiny hospital bathroom mirror after my op. Luckily I had been warned it would take time for them to drop into shape! There was a scar round my nipple, one line from nipple to underneath my breasts and then another scar running along where your bra wires rest.

Bound and bra-d I went home after one night I think. I remember feeling a bit under the weather and although pleased to see my close friends who'd popped in to see me I was uncharacteristically glad when they left. I went to bed feeling like I was brewing a cold.

Over the next 24 hours I felt worse and worse and on the morning of the second day I could smell something nasty. Un-peeling my dressings I found a miasma of yuckiness under my breasts which did not smell at all good.

My sister in law popped in to see me and I showed her. She bundled me in the car and headed back to the hospital.

The nurse on duty took a peek and whisked me in to see a doctor who, with the sort of face you normally reserve for funerals, told me I had MRSA.

scars after NHS breast reduction and upliftAt the time I had heard of it but hadn't realised how serious it could be. I was told I needed immediate surgery to remove as much as possible of the infected area. I was put onto IV and oral antibiotics. I got sicker and sicker.

They repeated the surgeries, changed the antibiotics again and again and still I became more and more ill. I was told later that my family were warned I had one antibiotic left which was brutal and could well cause me harm but it was my only option.

That night I remember thinking I was going to die and being resigned to it. Nurses came and went through the night - I was awake but unable to speak or move even when their ministrations hurt.

breast scars after NHS reduction and upliftThe last antibiotic dripped into my veins and by the morning I felt ever so slightly better.

Obviously as I am writing this the treatment worked but I was left severely gluten intolerant and with scarred and wonky breasts and nipples from all the emergency surgeries.

14 years on the scars are faded but still visible and the gluten intolerance caused by the vicious antibiotics is only mild.

D'you know what though? I don't regret a thing. Even my Frankenstein breasts are better than my old ones. They are now a D-cup, fit into normal bras and normal clothes. I felt confident, slimmer, ten years younger.
I still do.

I wrote this post in response to a writing prompt from the Post40Bloggers website.  If you are over 40 you are welcome to submit articles to #post40bloggers. Head over and see what we are looking for.

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