The afternoon of my appointment, I'm woozy from the antibiotic-painkiller cocktail the doctor had prescribed. As I close my eyes and lie back on the treatment table, Inglefield injects the local anesthesia into my right breast using an instrument the size of a knitting needle. The pain is brutal. I can feel every push and prod, especially under the nipple, which feels like it's being sawed off. "Your muscles are very tight, so it's hard to push the needle in," says Inglefield, between stabs. "If you were older or had sagging skin from breast-feeding, this wouldn't be as hard." On a pain scale from one to 10, with one being a blood-test prick, I'd give this a solid seven. But after 15 minutes, the numbness kicks in and I relax, slurring my words when the doctor asks how I'm feeling.
Laced with epinephrine, the anesthesia makes me involuntarily twitch, like a drug addict. The doctor assures me that the spasms won't affect my results and switches to an equally enormous 12-gauge cannula to inject the 100 ccs (about one cup size) of Macrolane into my left breast and a little bit more into my right. This is the maximum amount of filler my elastic skin can take — any more and the tight tissue could push the extra gel out of the injection site. Again, I feel pressure, but this time, no pain. Inglefield sculpts as a hobby, and I feel like a lump of clay when he massages the gel into place. Another five minutes pass (the total treatment time is just under an hour). Then he asks me to sit up. After checking that my chest looks balanced, Inglefield declares me done.
When I look in the mirror, I'm thrilled — for the first time without padding, I have cleavage! With small waterproof bandages below each breast, I barely look banged up. In fact, I look pretty much the same, just plumped up on top. I strap on the 1950s-era support bra that I must wear for two weeks and notice how well my breasts fill out the B cups. But when I start walking out the door, I'm stricken by extreme nausea. My mom tells me that she has the same reaction to anesthesia and helps me back to the Metropolitan, a peaceful hotel in quiet Hyde Park, where I hole up for recovery.