One Mom’s Journey to Feeling Better in her Own Skin

Oh the dreaded bathing suit season! How I’ve missed you. NOT! With each passing year comes the internal battle; I love summer, but hate the thought of getting into a bathing suit so I can play in the pool with my kids. I’ve been one of the sideline Moms for way too long. I love the cute summer clothes and trends, but nothing too skin-baring to show my “problematic areas”. I love the adorable, strappy blouses and dresses, but cannot wear them since there are zero bra solutions for a well-endowed women. This list goes on and on.

Ironically, as a teen I was a stick figure. Tall, skinny, Olive Oil type-of-girl who was the latest bloomer of them all. I can remember constantly trying to convince my Mom to let me take supplements so I could gain weight and develop, like all of my friends. All through high school I was a flat waif, and then BAM! After graduation I literally went from a 32A to a 32D, basically overnight. So do be careful what you wish for!

I believe I have always lived a fairly healthy lifestyle. I’m active, I don’t over indulge, I eat relatively well, have been a vegetarian for over 17 years, but after four children, slower metabolism, back problems from bra straps, and a muffin top that I could not get rid of no matter how much I exercise, I decided to seek help elsewhere.

I began to give some thought to plastic surgery after a routine bra fitting at Nordstrom. Clearly it had been a while, because instead of the sales woman telling me what I expected to hear, which is that I am a 34D, she declared I was, in fact, a 32H! I’m sorry, a what now?! H? Do they make bras that size? Yes, indeed they do, and I walked out of the store with four of them and $350 poorer! As the shock wore off I started contemplating a breast reduction…again. I have thought about it many, many times over the years but just couldn’t justify the cost and spending money on something other than my kids, the house, 529 Plans, etc. Spend money on Mommy?! What an absurd concept. I then started thinking about all the chiropractic visits throughout the years, the pain that I bear each day on my shoulders, the fact that I am continuously self-conscious of my body and the fact that my chest is completely out of proportion with my tall, lengthy frame. I resented the fact that I couldn’t wear cute, strappy summer clothes, felt like a beast in a bathing suit top, elicited rude cat calls over the years (with the primary focus being my boobs) and honestly needed a change.

I started the plastic surgeon consultation route by talking to friends who have had breast work done (many going bigger, not smaller). I asked all sorts of questions. What did they like about their doctor, what didn’t they like, what would they have changed, how was the recovery process, pain level, etc.? The more people I spoke to about the procedure, the more I realized how common it is. Like anything, finding a doctor who is right for you entails many factors. Their education, experience and background are paramount, but what do they specialize in? Are they a face doctor, do they specialize in breast augmentations, do they do it all? What do their past patients look like? Go through their portfolio, look at their work. Are they more conservative when it comes to procedures or perhaps more aggressive, recommending things you may not need. How do you interact with the doctor? Do they provide you with enough information and address your questions and concerns? Do you care about their bedside manner or just the overall outcome, or both? What are the financial ramifications?

One of my biggest concerns was my children. What if something happened? How long would I be laid up after the procedure (Moms don’t get days off!), what kind of message was I sending to my four daughters about their bodies? I consulted with five local doctors, all of which were personally recommend to me in one way or another. While I was impressed with most all of the doctors, after meeting Dr. Chester Cheng and Dr. Brett Stompro in Danville most all of my concerns were put to rest. They addressed all of my questions head-on, they were kind, competent, explained the procedure and walked me through the entire process. Their office is a place you feel comfortable in, it felt like “home” to me. From their front office staff to their nurses, surgical assistants and financial advisors, I felt taken care of. I was most impressed that I did not feel pressured and my meeting with the doctors was educational and personal. I did not feel rushed but rather felt that I was the only patient they were concerned about at that particular moment.

Although my initial reasoning for my visit was a breast reduction, I wanted to know what the doctors would recommend for my lovely muffin top. I luckily did not have stretch marks from my pregnancies and truly was not up for, nor did I want a tummy tuck. I just wanted to feel better in my own skin. What I wanted to hear was brutal honesty. Did I need a tummy tuck, or would I be happy with the results of body sculpting. I felt I knew the answer, but wanted to hear it from them. Right on cue, Dr. Cheng was pleasantly surprised by the condition of my skin and body and highly recommend ultrasonic liposculpture body sculpting, a less invasive route to address my troubled tummy area. Although you can schedule your procedure as soon as you meet with the doctors, I needed a little more time to think about the next steps. After much thought and a few weeks, I decided to move forward.

I was then connected with a Surgery Scheduler/ Patient Care Coordinator who are trained to answer any additional questions a prospective patient might have. Once again I was greeted by a warm, kind and friendly member of the doctor’s team. Not only was she extremely informative, she was able to share her own personal plastic surgery story with me, lending first-hand knowledge and advice. We bonded instantly, and as a fellow mother, she completely understood what I was going through.

That day, a 10% surgery deposit was collected which goes towards the procedure amount. We then selected a pre-op date approximately 3 weeks prior to the surgery. And we were off….! My pre-op appointment consisted of meeting with the nurse as we went over my health & history, they further educate the patient on what is to be expected with each procedure, pre-operatively and post operatively. Medication which was prescribed by the Doctor was dispensed, all post-op care products are made available for purchase which is hugely helpful and eliminated the need for me to have to run around prior to surgery. The additional fees were collected this day and my first Post-Operative appointment was set. Once all questions had been answered by the nurse, I had my second consultation to review the exact game plan for the upcoming surgery. At this point I was completely and utterly at ease and excited to see the end-results!

My Mom accompanied me the day of surgery where I was greeted by the doctor’s RN, who has been with them for more than 25 years! She checked me into the Stanford/ValleyCare Surgery Center and made sure I was comfortable with a warm blanket. I was surrounded by highly trained, highly skilled RN’s. The Board Certified Anesthesiologist came in to meet with me and then both doctors came to check in, see how I was doing and mark me up! I was then wheeled back with the RN who stayed with me throughout the entire procedure. Upon waking up, my RN cared for me until I was released to my Mom to take me home.

The evening after surgery Dr. Cheng called to check in on me. Although I was still sleeping, he spoke with my Mom and made sure to address any questions she had. He gave his contact number to be reached 24/7 in case anything came up.

As a Mom we must heavily rely on our Village and this situation was no exception. Without my Mom who was there take care of me and help with the kids, my girlfriends who lined up a meal train to feed the troops while I was down, pre-coordinated drop-off and pick-ups, and someone managing the weekly schedule while I was recuperating, it wouldn’t have been possible. That said, it most certainly WAS possible and no one missed a beat! All in all, while I was resting, my family had a successful four days without me. Who knew? I guess it goes to show you, we can do something for ourselves and the world will not fall apart!

I met with Dr. Cheng 6 days after the surgical procedure and was SO excited to see the initial results.   My sutures were removed and incisions were checked to make sure everything was healing as expected. More individualized post op care was given. The entire staff was supportive and excited to see the “big reveal”. I truly feel that once you are a patient with Dr. Cheng and Stompro, you are always a patient. I have been back to the office several times for various things and feel that the entire team at their office has my best interest and well-being at heart. They ask about my kids, and my Mom, they remember little details along the way, and they make you feel like family. Relationships are formed long after the healing process has taken place.

In the end, choosing to take care of myself, to do something for me, ultimately had a hugely positive and profound impact on the way I feel. I am not only lighter (10 pounds to be exact!), but I truly feel better. I love the results as the doctors’ technique was meticulous and artistic. I enjoy wearing clothes again, I have my confidence back and I am pain free. I also know that my children notice a difference and love how active and happy I now am. To each their own but for this mom of four it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!

About the Doctors: 

Dr. Brett Stompro is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He is trained in the latest plastic surgical technology including lasers and endoscopic techniques with small incisions. He has extensive experience in cosmetic surgery of the face, body contouring, and breast surgery. He is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and has been recognized by the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for advanced education in cosmetic surgery. He is an active member of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is an avid sculptor. With offices in Danville, Hayward, Livermore and Tracy, Dr. Stompro has privileges at local prominent hospitals. Dr. Chester Cheng Dr. Cheng was raised in the Bay Area, did his undergraduate training at the University of California, Davis. Using his Bachelors of Science degree in Biological Science he conducted ground breaking recombinant DNA research at the renound Genetech, Inc.

Dr. Cheng is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a physician, he received his Masters degree in Physiology and Doctorate of medicine from University of Health Sciences/ Chicago Medical School in 1994. His extensive surgical training continued in Chicago for general surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery at the prestigious Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center. He also completed a microsurgery fellowship at Davies Medical Center in San Francisco. Following his extensive training he pursued his interest in teaching at Loma Linda Medical Center where he served as the Director of Student Education in the Division of Plastic Surgery, sharing his talents in microsurgery, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery to surgeons in training.