I struggle to remember a time when I liked my breasts pre-surgery. Even when they were smaller than the uncomfortable size G that they were this past summer, I disliked them. In early high school years, I was approximately the size I am now, fitting into a comfortable C cup, but that was still considered on the larger size for a 15-year-old.
When my breasts continued growing after the rest of my body stopped, my mom joked that I would get breast reduction surgery just like she did. The dread in my voice was apparent when I responded with, “I really hope not. I hope they shrink.”
This article is confirmation that they did not shrink.
About a year ago, I noticed my breasts starting to peak over the top of my already large bra cups, which frustrated me more than anything. Fussing with my boobs during class was not cute, but bras for bigger busts are not cheap, and the last thing I wanted to do was invest in new ones for boobs that I was not even happy with.
To make matters worse, I sometimes experienced aches that made taking a bra on and off a painful part of my routine. Days where the aches were particularly bad, I would Google the surgery and text my mom saying that she may be right after all. I was only half joking.
I started talking about the possibility of going under the knife last Spring and decided it was worth a consultation with a recommended plastic surgeon. At my first appointment, he immediately confirmed what I already knew: my breasts were not proportional to my body.
He explained his plan to take a pound off of each breast and lift them. About a week later, I got a call from my surgeon saying that my health insurance company approved the entire procedure, and soon after we set the date for July 26.
Two months from that initial consultation, I would have a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders, literally.
If you are reading this article and thinking of getting the surgery, I will spoil the ending for you: my reduction is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I have been thrilled with the results since first waking up in the hospital.
My piece of advice: have the surgery.
That bold statement being made, everyone has a different experience. The recovery process was not a rough one for me, but I know people who say that it was not easy for them the first week or two. I can only speak for my own experience.
Once the surgery date was in my calendar, the worrying started. I had anxious nights and racing thoughts in the weeks before that caused me to toss and turn and eventually text my mom to talk about it. The day before my surgery, I went to my doctor to get my surgical markings; my surgeon used a sharpie to outline where the incisions would be and where my new breasts would sit on my chest. My nerves made it hard to focus that day, but before I knew it, I was changing into a hospital gown and being fussed over by nurses.
I barely remember them lifting me onto the operating table; the next time I opened my eyes, I was smaller chested and clutching a stuffed animal from the gift shop.
I stayed in the hospital that night and had nurses checking in on me every few hours to change my drains. The drains were one of the unnerving parts—I had one tube on each side of me connected to an incision, and fluid drained through the tubes and into plastic bubbles. Seeing them drain these tubes made me uneasy, and having them taken out the next day required a deep breath for each tube removal, but it was such a small fraction of the surgery experience. I was discharged 24 hours after surgery, and I had my mom bring a pillow with her in the car so I could put it between my chest and the seat belt on my travels home.
The most pain I felt throughout the whole process was a result of my incision splitting around five weeks post-op. That sounds scarier than it was, but it was an open wound—and it hurt like one, too, until I treated it properly. I had to put Aquaphor and a gauze pad on the incision, and within a few days it closed and never bothered me again. Other than that incident, I felt uncomfortable the first week after the surgery because I had to lay on my back at night. My hips and lower back would stiffen and ache, which made me feel like I needed a good stretch when I woke up. I also sometimes experienced little aches and pains when transitioning from one position to another during recovery. The best piece of advice I can give when it comes to coping with pain is asking yourself if this temporary pain is worth the results. I found that even the maximum amount of pain was not enough to make me wish I had not gotten the surgery.
For a lot of women, their breasts cause terrible back pain that makes them slouch or have difficulty sleeping. I did not experience pain to this extreme before surgery, but I carried all of my tension in my neck as a result of the weight on my chest. Post surgery, my posture has improved, I sleep comfortably on my stomach, and my workouts require only one sports bra.
My quality of life has improved immensely from just a three-hour surgery and six weeks of a sedentary lifestyle.
I am now able to wear clothing styles that I love and buy bras without annoying underwire. I am amazed by the self confidence that this procedure has given me. I am frequently asked about my scars and whether they make me feel less confident, but the answer is a strong no. My scars are still a light red color and raised, but I barely even notice them, and they will become practically invisible over time.
I may have been nervous every day leading up to the surgery, but I received copious amounts of encouragement from friends, family, and medical professionals every step of the way. Now, I want to share my experience with anyone interested in breast reduction because anyone getting the procedure for the right reasons will find that every negative is outweighed by all of the positives.
Photo by Delia Curtis