Some of you may know that I had a breast reduction when I was 17, and I wanted to share my experience with you all. This is the first part in a two part series that I will be writing. This post will cover my reasons for choosing the surgery, my consultation, and risks of having a breast reduction. Part 2 will cover post-op life, re-growth, and a reflection on the last 10 years.
Nearly ten years ago, during my Senior year spring break, I had a breast reduction. Although my breasts have grown back to an extent, I do not regret the choice that I made. Yes, I was underage but my mom made it clear that it was my choice to make. I feel that it is important to note that when all of this happened 10 years ago, everything was different. I grew up in a small city in the Southern United States. The only store in my town that had large bust bras was a store that specialized in mastectomy bras, and they didn't have anything in a smaller band. I also so grew up in a single parent household and there wasn't much money left over, especially that I was starting college soon. Lastly, this was before online shopping was the norm. I wouldn't have known where to begin to look for bras online, and then going through the heartbreak of when they didn't fit.
I started developing breasts very early on. I was wearing a 34B bra during my first year of middle school at age 11. The next year, I was wearing a 36C (which really meant that I was around a 34D) at 12. I was never made to feel self conscious about my breasts by my family. It wasn’t until I was shamed for them by a certain teacher that I started to feel ashamed about the changes in my body. I started wearing camisoles underneath all of my shirts while in school. While my breasts kept growing and developing, I felt like the rest of me had not. I had (and still do have) narrow hips and longer legs when compared to my short torso. I am around 5’4”, not much taller than I was during puberty. I could still wear pants from the kids department, but my tops sometimes came from the petite women’s department.
Flash forward a few years to high school. Finding clothes during back to school season was near impossible. Clothes shopping always ended in tears, but I usually found some suitable clothes to wear; usually shirts were a size or two larger than I would normally buy if it wasn’t for my bust size. By this time I was wearing 36DDD (often minimizing) bras; my mom would alter the back bands for me to make them fit a bit smaller.
My first big challenge was during prom season of my junior year, I was 16. By this time I was now wearing horribly fitting 40DDD bras with the back band again being altered. I was around a size US 8 at the time; the dress that I wore to prom was a size 14 to accommodate my bust and my mom took it in at the straps and on the sides. To a 16 year old girl who is still developing her sense of self, I hated my breasts for making me unconfident and different from others. Victoria’s Secret was (and still is) the brand of bras that most of my friends bought. It sounds shallow, but the fact that I couldn’t go into that store and buy bras was crushing to me.
Aside from the esteem issues, my breasts made me feel heavier than I really was. They seemed to be causing some of my medical troubles. I was having recurring issues with migraines and a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders. My breasts also became very tender whenever I would have my period. I didn’t have any physical problems with my breasts that would have lead to having a reduction. My mom and I visited my family doctor in the Fall of my senior year of high school. We discussed the problems I was having with my migraines and back pain. My family doctor suggested that I meet with a plastic surgeon and I was given a referral.
A few weeks later, I had my consultation with my plastic surgeon. During my consultation, my plastic surgeon was very kind and understanding. I expressed that I thought my breasts were saggy since they were very oval shaped. My surgeon said that my breasts weren’t sagging because my nipple was still upwards, and that I would not need a breast lift and a breast reduction. He explained all of the risks of the surgery to me, as well as how the surgery would be done. My doctor explained that he would be using the anchor method, which meant that there would be incisions below my areola and under the breast. We also discussed post-op sizing, and mutually decided that a 34D would be a nice size for my frame and figure. Looking back, I estimate that I was around a 34HH/J (34:12 - 34:13) when I decided to have the surgery. The date for my surgery was set for mid-March during my spring break. It was decided that this would be the best time for the surgery so that I would have ample time to heal without worrying about catching up on school work, and so that I would have time heal before I went off to college the following summer.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks to having a breast reduction. Some of those risks include: infection, scarring, poor healing, potential inability to breastfeed, and a lack of nipple sensation. If you're in the US, please visit the American Society for Plastic Surgeons for more in depth information about the procedure and risks.
I was scared and nervous for the surgery. I just wanted everything to be okay, and I just wanted to feel like a normal teenager for once. No matter how well adjusted, and incredibly smart I was and no amount amount of positive self talk would make my problem go away. It didn’t seem fair to me that while everyone was wishing for larger breasts, I was wishing that mine would just go away. You can't make your breasts smaller from wishing, but I wished that I could. When all was said and done I was very excited for what I felt was a new beginning.