My Breast Augmentation Experience
Ever since I was a young girl, I have considered undergoing a breast augmentation. After weighing the pros and cons of the different variables involved (financial burden, taking time off from training, was this something I really wanted, etc), I made the decision that 2016 would be the year that I went through with surgery. As of this blog post, I have gone through surgery and couldn’t be happier with my decision! I know there are going to be lots of questions, so hopefully this blog gives a bit of insight into my personal experience.
Given that I document many parts of my life via the internet (YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat) and that “Social Media Influencer” is actually a part of my job title, it may come as a surprise that I am a more private person. Putting your life on the internet means you’re an open book about everything you do, right? Not for me. There are influencers who are extremely open about a wide variety of details in their lives – from the meals they eat, to their workouts, to their families, to details of their romantic relationships, to where they live, to plastic surgery or cosmetic enhancement (quick aside – I do have an issue with fitness professionals undergoing plastic surgery for things like butt implants and proceeding to lie about it and sell workout plans. I can’t train my chest to grow boobs. I can grow my butt just fine, and mine is 100% authentic. I’m talking cosmetic procedures like breast augmentations or non-invasive enhancements that have nothing to do with fitness, such as Botox, lip injections, etc). While I do share a lot of my life, sharing everything is not my modus operandi. In that, what I do share, I share in an effort to be transparent and to help others! There were countless women who have documented their personal breast augmentation experiences from start to finish via a YouTube series, or string of blog posts, and I myself watched and read many of these in an effort to educate myself about the procedure and the aftercare! Those influencers and their posts each helped me gain some insight about the procedure’s many complicated and nuanced facets, and I’m thankful for the content these influencers provided! However, for me, I didn’t personally feel the desire to publicly document the ins and outs of my surgery or explain details about why I chose to proceed with the surgery. There’s a common misconception that if an influencer doesn’t talk about something that they are trying to hide it or are ashamed of it… This is not always the case. I’m all about doing what feels right for you, and in the context of my surgery, keeping things more “to myself” was what felt (and still feels) right.
You may be wondering, “Emily, if you wanted to keep it to yourself, why are you writing a blog about it?” Excellent question. For one, it’s an obvious physical change, so as someone who regularly is seen on social media and at events in 3-D life, it was going to be obvious at some point in time, so I wanted to clear the air. Secondly, while I don’t feel a need to go into intense detail, I do want to provide some basic insight and address some of what I predict will be frequently asked questions regarding my procedure. As always, my goal is always to help, and I hope that sharing even a small bit of my experience with you all will potentially help someone who is considering having the procedure done, similarly to how the videos and blogs of other women helped me. Let’s get into it!
As I mentioned previously, I have been considering this surgery for years, but it wasn’t until mid-2015 that I began to truly look into the ins and outs of surgery. I read up on types of implants (silicone or saline), possible sites of incision, cost of surgery, potential doctors, the surgical procedure itself, the recovery time, and everything else you could possibly think of. I started listening to the stories of other women who had their own surgery, particularly those women who I know on a personal level (aka my friends). If you are considering the surgery, I would highly recommend not only watching videos/reading blogs etc, but also talking to someone in person, one-on-one, about their experiences! I always find that intimate discussions are much more insightful than a video or a blog, even if it’s coming from the same person who wrote/recorded them.
When I moved to Louisville this past May, I scheduled a consultation with the surgeon that ended up being the Dr. I saw for my surgery. I was referred by a friend, and upon meeting him (as well as the nurses), I was completely at home and wouldn’t have trusted anyone else with my surgery. After the initial consult where I learned about the procedure and tried on various implant sizes, I gave myself a couple more months to think and pray over the decision and decide if this was absolutely, 100% what my heart, soul, body, and mind wanted. Although I had considered surgery for years, going to meet surgeons and have consultations made the experience much more real, so taking that time to truly evaluate the decision was essential for me. When I decided that it indeed was, I called and scheduled my surgery. The ball rolled pretty quickly after that! I had two more consultations before my actual operation itself where I tried on and finalized what would be my implant size. From there, I placed the order for my prescriptions, made sure I had someone who was willing to come care for me for a few days post-op (thanks, mom), and I was ready to roll.
On the day of surgery, things were pretty simple. No eating or drinking after midnight the day of (you best believe I was finishing my nighttime oatmeal at 11:59pm the night before :P), shower with antibacterial wash the night before and morning of, one last hair wash, etc. My mom drove me to the surgery center and I got all set up – anesthesia, IV, adorable surgical gown, booties, and cap, and got marked up by my doctor. My mom, the wonderful woman that she is, prayed over me before I went back. I definitely cried – having the love, support, and prayers of my mom going in was exactly what I needed… Although I’ve had minor surgeries like tooth extraction and chilazion removal, I’ve never had a major surgery before and there were definitely some nerves. Fear of the unknown is completely normal, so if you decide to go through with this surgery (or any major procedure), make sure you have someone you love there with you. Not just because you can’t drive yourself, but because we as individuals are not islands, and sometimes we get scared and simply need the love and prayers of someone close to us. After my beautiful moment with my momma bear, they started administering the anesthesia and wheeled me back into the operating room. After what to me was a glorious nap (that felt like the blink of an eye), I started to hear voices coaxing me awake. In typical Emily fashion, my awakening was rather comical.
“I have BOOBS!” I exclaimed before evening opening my eyes. Apparently my exclamation was louder than I realized, because my mom informed me that she could hear me from the waiting room. I was chatty as could be and munched on the crackers and 7Up my nurse provided me with.
I got home and, also in typical Emily fashion, was up on my feet, very coherent, and very alert. I asked my mom to make me my typical smoothie bowl and oatmeal (#JustEmilyThings). I started watching Netflix (this is where my New Girl obsession was born) and she whipped up a batch of her famous gumbo for us to eat for the next couple of days… It’s one of my favorite meals J. I fell asleep pretty early that night, but did have to wake up in the middle of the night to take medication.
As far as recovery goes: so far, so good. The pain has slowly lessened. I would say I was pretty functional from the get-go, but things like pulling up my pants and unscrewing lids presented more difficulty than I expected. I was able to do things like respond to my online clients, cut my food, etc, but I definitely experienced (and still experience) limitations with regards to reaching up to get things out of cabinets, carrying things, bending over, and general range of motion. I had to sleep completely on my back for about a week, and then was able to gradually progress towards my normal orientation of sleeping on my side. With regards to medication, I did experience some nausea with the stronger pain killers. I was expecting this to a degree since my mom experiences intolerance to pain killers, but I was fine after switching to simple Extra Strength Tylenol. I like to think that my pain tolerance is pretty high, so the pain itself wasn’t too bad! I’m not one to train chest very often, so the pain was very similar to the soreness accrued from an intense chest workout. I was able to start school the week after my procedure with no problem – it actually worked out well with regards to timing since I could spend a bit more time adjusting to school starting/homework/reading assignments with the time I couldn’t spend in the gym. My actual boobs themselves are still very hard/firm and sitting pretty high, but they do take time to settle. That’s pretty inevitable and normal, so I just have to be patient! I would say they started coming down and feeling a bit less strange a week after, but they still have a good bit of settling to do. They feel more “normal” day by day, so again, it just takes some time and patience.
Now, speaking of the gym… This is the longest I’ve taken off of the gym since I started training four years ago… And it hasn’t been that bad. There are times when I get a bit stir crazy, but especially the first week, I spent the majority of my time sleeping or working, whether that be on schoolwork or my actual job. I actually planned surgery at this time somewhat on purpose due to the fact that I knew I could use the time off from training and put it towards the start of term at university, as well as other work projects I had going on! I am definitely very much so ready to get back in the gym and keep making improvements, but the time off from training has been somewhat refreshing and most definitely productive!
To wrap up, I want to go into some of my predicted FAQs regarding my surgery. Always keep in mind that regardless of someone else’s experience online, there are still going to be potential health risks with any surgery. Make sure you do your own research if you are considering having any surgery or cosmetic enhancement done. On that note, here we go!
- Did you get silicone or saline implants?
- I went with silicone for what I felt was a more natural look and feel.
- What type of incision did you go with and are the implants under or over the pectoral muscles?
- With the help and advice of my doctor, I decided on a sub-muscular implant. The incision is right under the breast on each side. I like this particular incision site as the scarring is not extremely obvious or visible (whereas something like an armpit, through-the-nipple, or belly button incision is going to have more visible scarring).
- How many ccs did you get?
- I will not disclose my personal cc measurement since it really doesn’t offer any perspective. The size of implants I needed to achieve my “desired look” is going to be different than what someone else needs for them. Just like nutrition is tailored to an individual and their body, the same applies to implant size. Your implant size is dependent on quite a few variables, ranging from the shape of your chest wall, how much natural breast tissue you have, the size of your ribcage, etc. Mine are two different sizes due to imbalances in the amount of natural breast tissue that I have. That’s really common!
- How do you afford/finance surgery?
- I will not deny the fact that surgery is expensive. Breast augmentation surgery is not covered by health insurance due to the fact that it is considered an elective surgery. It was 100% up to me to pay for the operation. Like I mentioned previously, this is a surgery that I have considered having for years. I am currently employed, and I have also worked/had a job since I was fairly young. I have been very adamant about saving my money! I am privileged to be employed and to have the means to avoid paying for surgery, but again, this is something that I have saved up for for a long time! If you want to make any big purchase, whether that’s having a surgical procedure or buying a car, one of the first steps you should take is making sure you are putting aside money for it. In a lot of cases, there are financing options for surgery (such as half up front, half financed or something of the sort), or you can pay in full. Either way, make sure you have committed both the time to mentally prepare for and consider your surgery, but also to prepare financially. This also includes any financial hit you may face taking due to time off from work, depending on your job.
- What/how did you eat after surgery?
- This is completely a personal choice. As a serious competitor/bikini athlete, I am not the type of person who would want to not have some sort of structure. My coach Nick Tong was up-to-date on everything regarding surgery, so he provided me with a set of macros to follow post-op. We didn’t want to reduce calories drastically, but also didn’t want to promote excess fat gain due to the inevitable lack of activity. We kept calories around the same as my rest day macros given the fact that I would obviously be “at rest” for quite a while. We exchanged a few carbs for some more fats again due to lowered activity (fat = resting energy whereas carbs are more so used for activity but are still used for daily function). The day of my surgery, I didn’t force myself to eat if I didn’t want to. I found myself lacking appetite, especially given the slight nausea due to the pain medication. Every day since I have kept my food up, but again, I’m not forcing myself to eat if I’m not hungry. I have found that if I wasn’t someone who tracked macros, I would have the tendency to under-eat given my busy schedule! I get so caught up working on schoolwork, client updates, etc. that I find myself thinking, “Wait a minute, I need to eat something!” Even though I’m not training, it is still important for me to keep food in my system so as not to dig myself into a metabolic hole and to help with recovery from surgery.
- How much time do you have to take off from training?
- This varies per individual. Some people are cleared for light activity (light cardio and leg work) as soon as two weeks post operation, whereas some people take up to 6 weeks. The sub-muscular implants generally have a bit longer recovery time. It is so important to listen to your doctor’s recommendations regarding exercise as trying to do too much too soon increases your risk of hematoma, capsular contracture, and things of that nature. Do not put your health at risk and do not waste all of that money you just poured into having surgery just because you want to be bullheaded and return to training on your own time. Not to mention, don’t ruin your new boobs! Duh!
- Do you have to have breast implants to compete in bikini competitions?
- The answer here is an overwhelming no. It is absolutely, 100%, totally possible to compete without ever getting breast implants. There are numerous competitors at both the amateur and professional level who do not have implants. I competed and placed regionally and nationally without ever having implants, and I am fully confident that I could earn my IFBB pro card without having breast implants. I learned quite a few tricks in my day to “make the most of what you’ve got” with regards to padding, bikini inserts, etc. While many competitors have them, you don’t have to have breast implants to compete! Just like there are many women who don’t compete that have breast implants, and there are many women who don’t have them.
- Why did you decide to go through with a breast augmentation?
- I am predicting that this will be the question I am presented most frequently. My answer to you is short, sweet, and frank: Because I wanted them. I have my own personal reasons for wanting this procedure, and that’s enough for me. If you decide to have a breast augmentation (or any surgery), your reasons have to be enough for you. Just as I received negative comments about my body/chest before having implants (i.e. “You look like a man.”), I’m well aware that I will receive negative comments after having breast implants. You will never be able to please everyone, so make sure you are pleased with yourself. You have to be happy with you. It’s not about what someone else wants for you or what someone else says about your body. To paraphrase my Wonder Woman Mentality, you can’t allow your decisions (especially not major ones, like having surgery) to be governed by the opinions of others… Whether that “someone” is your family, your significant other, your friends, or people on social media. You have to make decisions for you. You don’t have to explain yourself. Your life, your body, your choice. Empower yourself and do what feels right for you.
In closing, a few words to leave you all with. Ladies: please do not rely on a surgery or procedure of any kind to fix any pre-existing body image issues that you have. Just as losing weight doesn’t automatically make you fall in love with your body/self, having a cosmetic procedure won’t take you from a 0 to a 10 on the self-love scale. I know it sounds contradictory to love yourself wholly as you are but still undergo surgery, but I urge you to be in a confident place with your body and self-perception before you have any type of procedure done. Just as a leaner you is not automatically a “better” you (that quote is courtesy of my dear friend, Ilyssa Russ. Love you!), a bigger-breasted you isn’t a “better” you either. It’s simply a different you.
And on that note: I was beautiful before having my breast augmentation, and I am beautiful after. I was kind, intelligent, witty, and strong before having my breast augmentation, and I am still just as much all of those things after. Those things all remain.
Until next time,