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Getting busted: Breast implants with complications

After two pregnancies, Jean Johnson’s breasts slumped, sagged and withered before her disappointed eyes. After contemplating the consequences of surgery for over a year, she decided to get a breast augmentation and smiled at the thought of having full, firm breasts that would fill out her bra. That surgery resulted in a serious health complication… but, would she go through it all again? You betcha!

Resisting the trend
When Pamela Anderson and countless other women had their breast implants removed, flat chested women everywhere breathed a hefty sigh of relief. A smaller bosom was more acceptable, even the norm. Women were no longer willing to define their sexuality by their cup size.

In spite of this downsizing trend, I chose to have my breasts augmented. In my twenties I had full, buoyant, breasts. I was a bit smug about them and considered my bust to be perfect. I modeled for a short while and felt most comfortable in swim wear and even entered an occasional swimsuit contest. I never imagined my chest would change.

But, after two pregnancies and nursing both babies, my breasts slumped, sagged and withered before my disappointed eyes. I wouldn’t have minded if they simply shrunk, but they hung like two baggy gym socks from my bony chest. My husband still looked at me as he always had and complimented me often, “You’re beautiful.” My reduced bustline in no way squelched his desire for intimacy, but my mammary organs were an embarrassment to me.

I am addicted to exercise and put in over six hours of aerobic activity each week which has given me a trim, toned body. But, I could have pumped iron all day and it would never have resuscitated my bust. I tried wearing curves, even bought a miracle bra or two. Sadly, the cleavage I hoped would miraculously appear never materialized.

Cosmetic surgery
Knowing how frustrated I had become, my husband offered to pay for plastic surgery to “rebuild” them. After contemplating the consequences of surgery for over a year, I met with several plastic surgeons to discuss the possibilities and found one who had performed over one thousand breast augmentations and had a pleasant bedside manner. With his assurances, I felt confident that I would regain my previous buxom posture. I smiled everytime I thought of having full, firm breasts that could fill out my bra.

I met with my surgeon twice before the surgery and felt calm and confident with my decision right up until the moment I lay on the operating table and the anesthesiologist put me under. When I awoke from surgery woozy and confused; it felt as if weights were smashing my chest. My right lung rumbled and felt constricted. A group of physicians and medical assistants crowded around me and I gasped, “What’s in my lung? Feels like there are bubbles in there?”

Unexpected complication
My doctor’s sad face came into view. “We had some trouble during surgery. I nicked the tissue around your lung, but it’s okay now. Just going to take an x-ray to make sure things are all right.” They nurses propped me up then held me in x-ray ready position. The muscles in my chest trembled, the pain ricocheted throughout my upper body. I groaned. The equipment clicked. I was eased back into my bed. My doctor scratched his beard. “I’ve never had this happen before. In fact, I’ve never heard of it happening.”

The aftereffects of anesthesia were working at me, pulling me back into sleep. Too groggy to be scared, but wanting more information, I forced my lids open as I frowned at my surgeon. “I’m confused. What happened?”

He folded his arms, tucked his hands under his armpits and looked away. “You’re so thin and have the smallest chest cavity I’ve ever seen. There’s no fat padding on your ribs, or anywhere for that matter. I was making my first incisions when I hit a bleeder. I began cauterizing to stop the bleeding. I was horrified when I looked down and saw the bright pink tissue of your lung under the cauterizer. The image keeps playing over and over in my head.”

I gulped. “What did you do then?”

He looked me in the eye. “The anesthesiologist and I put a tube in your lung, suctioned out the air and then he gave you a big breath with the breathing machine and I pulled out the tube. Everything should be fine now.”

Minutes later as the doctors conferred beside my bed and I dipped in and out of consciousness, I heard concerned voices. “Get her over to the other building for a closer look.” My heart thumped loudly as my chest heaved to gulp in air. The x-ray illuminated a collapsed area in my lung, but my surgeon felt it was small enough that I would be fine at home. I didn’t want anything to be wrong and felt relieved by the news.

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