Any change in your body, especially when immediate, like in a breast augmentation, will affect your body image. Everything you know about your body is suddenly different. And even if the change is a great one, and exactly what you wanted, it will feel strange and foreign for a period of time.
Add to that numbness, nerves waking up, wondering if anyone has noticed the change, catching a glance of yourself in the mirror or feeling the difference while washing in the shower – it is a TRIP! I didn’t go through the typical “should I have gone bigger?” that many patients wonder. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I could see immediately that’s what I got!
My daughters inquired “Mommy? Those squishy things you have at your office are now in your boobies?” “Yes, they are!” I answered. “Does it hurt?” and “Will I have to do that too?” were their next questions. That is really what children are wondering when their Mom has surgery. “No, it doesn’t hurt at all” and “not unless you want to” were my responses.
“Why?” was their next question – to which I answered “Because I liked how my boobies looked when I was breastfeeding you as babies, like in that picture in my bedroom, and I think they look really good.” They agreed, and when they asked to squeeze them, they laughed as they couldn’t feel “the squishies”.
My daughters are so adorable, curious and accepting of my matter-of-fact explanation about my surgery. Moms often worry about the message they are sending to their daughters if/when they decide to have cosmetic surgery.
I encourage my patients to be honest with their children about WHY they are having surgery, to explain WHEN they will be back in action to play with them and be a fully active parent, and to invite QUESTIONS and an open dialogue about their procedure both now, or anytime in the future (especially the pre-teen and teenage years, when questions often arise).
If a mother of girls has a positive body image and doesn’t think twice about donning a bikini or having a cannonball competition in the pool with her kids (like me), then her acceptance of her body and comfort in her own skin will demonstrate healthy self-confidence and a positive body image to her daughters.
My body image adjustment had to do with the finite details of surgery. The mobility of the implant in the pocket (slightly less than for my patients). The cleavage. The upper pole fullness. The profile and projection of the implant in my breast. How they felt when I was lying on my stomach (weird).
My scars were tiny (one inch) and were well hidden in the fold under my breast. I knew my incisions would mildly hyperpigment (heal darker, with more melanin) for a period of time, as I typically form “post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation” if I have an oven burn or a bug bite – it tans darker and then slowly fades over a year. The drain scars were also somewhat darker. I began to do scar therapy as we instruct all our surgical patients to do at several weeks after surgery. Next week’s final blog post in this series will share my before & after results!!
My internal struggle was with the infinitesimal details of my results. Every day, I would alternate “I’m fine, I look great! Perfect result!” with “I need to tweak this result”. The revision was not for the size or shape of the implants, but for the pocket which hugged my implants a little more snugly than the pockets I create for my patients’ breast implants.
Was it worth going back and requesting the pocket be opened up one more centimeter around the implant so that it slid around a tiny bit more? Would I return to my surgeon and ask her to do this, or should I find a surgeon locally to execute my nit-picky surgical request? For just 5 seconds in the mirror each morning, I would literally alternate “Ugh, I need minor revision” with “It’s fine, leave it alone” for a full six months. How annoying! It usually only takes my patients 3 months on average to get used to their results. I shared my feeling with my husband and Mary, who just rolled their eyes and told me to shut up.
WHY was I going through this mental turmoil? I’m not a stress case. I don’t ruminate normally. I make quick, definitive decisions in the operating room (and in life), accept them and move on. I rarely second-guess myself.
I pondered an analogy that helped me to process my feelings. Consider a chef whose specialty is a particular fancy dish, and they really like the way THEY prepare that delicacy, better than anyone else. Suppose they go to a restaurant and ordered it from another chef, they would enjoy it but it wouldn’t be exactly like their creation and they would critique it. That’s the beauty of ART – which is in fact what Plastic Surgery is. It is impossible for two of any creations to be perfectly comparable, whether it’s that dish at the restaurant or a breast augmentation result.
One day, I woke up and accepted that although the results aren’t 100% exactly the way I perform surgery on my patients, I look pretty darn amazing! I am grateful to my surgeon for her expertise, and I love my breast augmentation results. I wasn’t perfect before, and (like all of us), I am not perfect now. But I am HAPPY and very satisfied with my results now. Thank you, Mindy!! XO
Next Sunday’s final post in this series will wrap up this blog series about my own Plastic Surgery procedure and reflect on my final results. Thank you for reading!