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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

175

What It's Like to Get a Breast Reduction

There’s never been a time when I’ve loved my breasts. When I was younger, I was mad they didn’t show up as fast as I wanted them to. (Remember the joy of getting those painful little nubby breast buds?) I guess it was middle school when I finally grew a real pair, but I don’t recall exactly when I started wearing a bra or when I really started needing one. I know that by the time I was a freshman in high school my boobs were a fairly decent size, but even then I surmised during locker room changing sessions that mine were too squishy or floppy. And it only got worse as high school wore on. I went from being a C-cup to a D, and then I pushed all the way into DD territory.

I know that many women lust after big boobs (witness the breast implant industrial complex), but I found mine to be a complete pain, both literally and figuratively. Once they finally showed up, they grew so quickly that they were often tender and were streaked with ugly pink stretch marks. They got in my way, and a large, unsexy bra was always required to keep them under control. Above all, they made me self-conscious. Of course none of my boyfriends minded their large size, but I minded.

They ruined my posture because the more ashamed I got about their size, the more I hunched to avoid showing them off. When you have big boobs, and you stand up straight, it feels like you’re thrusting them into the world’s face like some kind of pin-up model. Not exactly the preferred look for a shy teenager. The weight of them also started to pull my shoulders down. At the end of the day, I’d have big red marks where my bra straps had dug into my skin, and I regularly got aches in my neck and back.

Even though I was a healthy kind of skinny, my bulging breasts threw off my proportions and made me look deceptively heavy. Being so buxom also made it difficult to find clothes that fit properly. Things that fit my torso and arms would be too tight in the chest. (Button-down shirts were the worst; thoughts of seeing my bra exposed through the gaping holes between those damn buttons still haunt me.) And I was constantly aware of how much trouble they caused me. When I got dressed in the morning, when I ate and tiny crumbs collected on my cleavage, when I was running to catch up to someone — there were dozens of tiny moments throughout the day when I noticed them and thought to myself, “too big, too big, too big.”

Still, as much as I’d come to hate my boobs, it never occurred to me that there was anything to be done about them. Of course I knew that plastic surgery existed, but I thought of it mostly as nose jobs and facials, something older rich people did for vanity’s sake. I had never known anyone who’d had a breast reduction.

Then one day when I was 21, my mom and I went out shopping for clothes. On the way home, I complained about my boobs being too big. My mom casually wondered if I’d ever thought of getting a breast reduction. My mind was blown! Not only by the idea of me getting plastic surgery, but by the knowledge that someone else (yes, it was my mother, but still) had thought that my boobs were big enough to need fixing. I was almost a little insulted at first, but then after a while the idea sunk in, and I became irrationally excited about the possibility of being freed from having giant knockers for the rest of my life. I fantasized that the surgery would transform my body completely, and I would henceforth lead a carefree existence filled with low-cut tank tops and strapless dresses.

But was this something I could actually do? How much did it cost? How did one find a doctor? What did they do to you? Luckily my mom knew her way around the healthcare system and found a good surgeon — and she agreed to pay for it, which was beyond generous. And so it was that a few months later I found myself in a doctor’s office for a consult. He was mousy and nerdy, not at all like the idea of a smooth-talking plastic surgeon that I had in my head. It turned out that he mostly did complex breast reconstruction surgeries for cancer patients, which made me feel better somehow.

He came in and started examining me. I was very nervous. It’s weird to have a stranger squeezing and lifting your breasts, looking at them as a medical problem to solve. He delivered his verdict: there was no question in his mind that I was a candidate for reduction. He continued, saying they were heavy enough that they would soon start causing me serious back problems.

He then explained to me how the procedure would work. He would cut a ring around the nipple, leaving it attached to the blood vessels that fed it. Then he’d cut a line straight down from the nipple and also a curved line along the underside of the breast. The excess breast tissue and fat would be cut out and the nipple moved up into what would be the center of the new breast. The skin would then be trimmed and brought back together around the remaining breast tissue, leaving me with a scar that looks like an anchor.

Then they’d do a small amount of liposuction around the side of my ribcage and upper abdomen to ensure that everything blended together. The idea is that the majority of the scar is hidden in the fold beneath the breast, so mostly what you see is just a line running down from the nipple. And even that scar fades over time so it’s not glaringly obvious from afar.

Thankfully, YouTube did not exist back then, so videos of the procedure were not readily accessible. (I’ve since watched a bit of footage online, and let me just advise you not to do the same. Eeesh.) If you’re curious to see how all this plays out, I encourage you to watch this completely blood-and-guts free animation that does a good job of explaining the steps.

My surgeon talked about what size he’d make my new breasts. I dreamt of having a tomboyish A-cup, but he wisely pointed out that my child-bearing hips would seem freakishly large if I had no breasts to balance them out. Fair enough. He suggested I go down to C cup, which I feared would still be too big, but I wasn’t going to argue with him. He explained that while my breasts were pendulous now (such an icky but apt expression!) they’d be more of a perky, normal shape after the surgery. He drew a side view to show me what he meant. It looked something like this:

The “after” image absolutely captivated me. It looked like a normal young person’s breast! I wanted my body to look like that! He, of course, went on to talk about the risks and the pain and the recovery time involved in this kind of operation, which is pretty major as these kinds of procedures go. But I barely heard any of it. All I could think of was walking around like a free woman, without pendulous breasts weighing me down.

Fortunately, my mom took the possible side effects more seriously and went back over all of it with me later. We both felt it was worth the risks, and the surgery was booked. (This was in 1999, right at the height of the Y2K panic. I was originally offered a surgery date at the very end of that December, but I chose one in early January instead because I figured if chaos did ensue on New Year’s Day 2000, I didn’t want to be in a post-surgical haze, unable to flee into the hills…Those were the days!) I was apprehensive, of course, about the surgery and whether I would like the results, but mostly I was excited.

As psyched as I was, I didn’t tell very many people I was having the surgery. It’s pretty weird to talk to people about your boobs under any circumstances, much less to be like, “They’re too big, so I am having them cut down!” It’s still not something I tell most people I’ve had done. I’m not embarrassed by it, but I just figure it’s not anyone’s business. If it comes up naturally, I’m happy to talk about it — but it hardly ever does in the course of normal conversation.

As much time as I’d spent envisioning my new post-op life, when the day of the surgery rolled around, I was fixated mostly on what I’d been thinking when I agreed to let someone put me to sleep and cut me open. I was anxious about the fact that I could die, sure, but I was also jittery because I had to get up at the crack of dawn and wasn’t allowed to eat anything. After I was checked in at the hospital, I remember they gave me a surgical gown along with a very attractive bonnet and some booties. They put me in a little room with a bed. The anesthesiologist stopped in and asked me some questions, and the surgeon came by and drew dots and dashes all over my breasts and torso with a marker to denote where he’d make his cuts once I was sprawled out on the table. Then a nurse gave me a sedative, and after that I don’t remember much. I have a vague recollection of walking into the operating room and putting one of my arms out so that they could put an IV in. Then I was out cold.

Next thing I knew I was awake. Actually, awake makes it sound like I was coherent. I wasn’t. I’d come slightly back to consciousness, and all I could feel was an agonizing pain in my chest. It felt heavy and searing and throbbing all at once, like I was being slowly driven over by a giant steamroller or like an elephant was jumping up and down on my ribcage. It hurt so much that I could barely breathe — and I didn’t understand why I was in pain because I was still so bleary-brained. I just remember fearing that the agony would never go away. I’m not sure why they hadn’t already dosed me up with something to lessen the pain, but in retrospect it seems insane. Regardless, after what felt like an eternity, someone finally gave me something powerful enough to work and within minutes the pain was down to a manageable level. Thank god for narcotics.

I was moved to another room to be monitored, and eventually when I was more awake, I tried to have some ginger ale and saltines. My throat was very raw from the breathing tube they put in during surgery, and it hurt to swallow. At some point, I looked down to examine my new chest, but it was hard to tell what it looked like because they’d bandaged me tightly and there were all kinds of tubes and things. Plus, I couldn’t focus on much beyond the pain I felt every time I moved even the slightest bit.

It was an outpatient surgery, so that evening they released me from the hospital. My mom helped me change very slowly into my own clothes. They’d had me bring a shirt that opened in the front (since I couldn’t lift my arms anywhere close to over my head) and had pockets so that I had somewhere to put the two drains they’d installed in me. The drains looked like translucent hand grenades, with tubes that came out of the top and went into my incisions. They slowly collected blood and pus. It was as unpleasant a sight as you’d think, though I admit I also found it kind of fascinating. (Hey, I was high on painkillers.) Mainly I had to be careful not to catch them on anything and accidentally pull them out because that would mean big trouble.

I was carefully transferred into my mom’s car, and we drove back to our hotel for the night. (I had the surgery done in a city a few hours from where I live because that’s where the best surgeon was.) I felt every bump in the road along the way. The only thing I remember from that night is my dear mother propping me up gently on some pillows in the hotel bed. The next morning, I still felt incredibly sore and weak. We went to a follow-up appointment at the surgeon’s office, and they removed my drains. They also changed my bandages and gave me a surgical compression bra that I had to wear for 6 weeks after surgery. It was sort of like a sports bra, but it zipped up in the front and was extremely tight.

The first few days after that were a blur. I was back at home, and I remember I had to be sitting up slightly at all times to keep the swelling down. I was in a lot of pain, but I was on a ton of meds so mostly I slept. Also, whatever I was on gave me crazy dreams, like as weird and vivid as any dreams I’ve ever had. By the end of the week I was able to get up regularly and move around and eat without too much trouble. But coughing, or really doing anything that expanded my ribcage, remained a very unpleasant sensation.

The second week was a big improvement. I went out to eat, I could dress myself, and I felt a lot more alive. Even though I’d been warned, I was still surprised by how major this surgery had been, how completely it had wiped me out. I went back to my surgeon’s office, and he took all the bandages off to take out some of the stitches. It was a pretty gruesome sight. I was covered in bruises and sutures and my breasts were mangled looking. I was disappointed. I was afraid I’d permanently turned myself into Frankenboobs. The nurse assured me that I’d look normal again someday, but the more I saw them the more I worried they were still too big, that he hadn’t reduced them enough. The doctor explained that they were very swollen and that as soon as the swelling went down they’d look a lot smaller. I was doubtful, but of course in the end he was right.

A few days later, as I was changing my own bandages at home, I finally allowed myself to look — really look — at my new chest. It was both exhilarating and scary. I could see more now that they were smaller, but they also looked funny, like they didn’t belong on my body. I cried a little bit. Once I had my shirt back on I felt more hopeful. The compression bra gave me an almost flat chest, and it was a nice, very unfamiliar feeling. I could stand up straighter. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of my chest, because, well, it had.

By the third week, I was recovered enough to resume a somewhat normal life. I wasn’t allowed to lift anything heavy or do anything that would jiggle my chest (like exercising), but I went back to work, wearing my surgical bra under a baggy shirt. A few people, mostly other women, commented that it looked like I’d lost weight, but a lot of people didn’t notice anything at all — or if they did they didn’t say anything.

Already I was happier with how I looked. I had to wear soft sports bras for a few weeks after I got rid of the surgical bra. Then I was finally allowed to start wearing regular underwire bras again. That was when I really noticed the difference. I had breasts again (as opposed to the flattened chest I’d been sporting), and they were normal! I was an average C cup, and I was giddy. My new body felt like it made sense; its proportions looked right. I could go to a store, pull a shirt off the rack, and it would fit me. No tugging at the chest, trying to stretch it out. I looked like I was 15 pounds lighter, even though I hadn’t lost any weight (other than the 2 pounds they’d surgically removed). I could move more freely, without worrying about where my breasts were going to end up. I hadn’t realized how much time I’d devoted to stressing about them, disliking them, cursing them, until suddenly they weren’t a problem anymore.

As the months stretched on, I was mostly healed, but there was one remaining freaky part. They’d used internal stitches during the surgery. Some of them dissolved on their own, but some of them did not, and my body was supposed to naturally eject those over time. They were blue and thick, sort of like lanyard. Even though I knew they were in there, I will never forget the shock I felt when the first blue line show up beneath the surface of my breast, right near my nipple. Within a few days of spotting it, it had worked its way through the skin, and I pulled it out with a tweezers (as instructed by my doctor). I felt like I was removing some sort of alien worm. It was several inches long, and I could feel it tugging and catching a bit deep in my breast as I yanked on it. This happened six or seven more times over the next few months, and by the final one I’d come (however perversely) to enjoy the satisfaction of pulling them out.

My new, smaller boobs did take some getting used to. When I was dressed, I thought about how good I looked instead of how fat or busty I was. But when I looked at my bare breasts in the mirror, they looked ugly to me — in a new and different way than they had before. My nipples, ringed in scar tissue, looked funny. My other scars were ropey, knotty things. The bottom ones were a quarter-inch thick in some places, and at that point they were all still bright pink. Plus my skin still bore the faded white lines left over from the stretch marks I’d gotten as a teenager. Even though I loved a lot of things about having smaller breasts, plenty remained to be self-conscious about — but at least now my flaws were easily concealed by wearing something as simple as a bra.

In the years since then my scars have faded considerably. Now they are white in some places and a darker flesh color in others. My nipples blend in a more naturally than at first, but there is still a visible, craggy line that runs down the front of each breast. There’s no way to hide it; if someone looks at my naked breasts it’s obvious I’ve had surgery. There are other long-term ramifications too. I lost some sensation in my nipples — I can feel it when one nipple is being touched, but not the other, which is odd but doesn’t bother me now that I’m used to it. Also, because they had to move my nipples, there is a real chance I won’t be able to breastfeed when I have children. When I was 21 and the doctor told me about this possibility, I didn’t care, but now that I am closer to actually having a child, the thought of not being able to produce breast milk is a little sad. Still, none of this is enough to make me regret having the breast reduction.

The surgery hasn’t just changed the way I think about myself; it has changed the way I interact with other people. I’ve grown a lot more confident in my appearance, and now I’m much more willing to be seen than I was before. I feel more attractive, and that in turn makes people think I am more attractive. Of course there’s still a difference between how self-assured I feel with and without clothes on.

Prior to surgery, I hadn’t considered that someday I would have to explain my scars to men who were going to see me naked. But obviously I did, and in the early days I struggled with how to bring it up. On the one hand you don’t want to just throw it out there because it’s a little mood-ruining, but you don’t want someone to happen upon the scars by accident either. At this point, I’ve been in a relationship for a long time, so it’s not an issue. But I used to worry what guys thought of them. They’re not your stereotypically lovely young breasts; I felt like they must be a disappointment. And maybe they are, but no guy has ever seemed to mind.

To me, the most fascinating product of the surgery is that it’s changed the way men react to me when I have my clothes on. Before, it was not uncommon for a man to stare blatantly at my large chest. When guys would approach me, in bars or at parties, most of them seemed to be operating on the assumption that I was a little bit of a slut. This was not, in fact, the case. I was a shy, fairly serious person who did not sleep with people lightly. And yet men I didn’t know regularly talked to me like I was eager to be their sexual plaything.

Then suddenly I had smaller breasts! When I’d walk around, men would still look at me, but they were no longer looking right at my breasts. I could feel them taking in the whole picture of me — my face, my body, my legs, and sometimes my breasts too. Almost overnight guys began treating me like a pretty girl instead of an easy girl. When they would talk to me, they would approach me like I was a normal person. They took me seriously. They would ask me questions about who I was, what I was interested in — a rare occurrence pre-surgery. I was shocked the first few times, but it kept happening. Friends of mine confirmed the difference so I knew I hadn’t imagined it, and I’ve since talked to other people who’ve had breast reductions and experienced the very same shift. Something to think about.

My own plastic surgery experience has made me far more sympathetic to other people who choose to get nose jobs or fix whatever it is about themselves that they hate. Sure, there are those who go overboard, but most of us get something subtle done because we’re tired of standing out, not because we want to look like a Barbie doll. If you have a strange looking chin, it influences the way that you feel about your entire body. It’s all you can see when you look in the mirror, so you assume it’s all anyone can see when they look at you. It invades your sense of who you are, and it influences the way other people perceive you too. There’s nothing vain or wrong about wanting to fit in, about wanting to be seen as yourself rather than the guy with the ugly ears or the girl with the huge boobs.

I feel incredibly lucky that I had a problem that was easy to correct and that I had the means to do it. Yes, it was major (and majorly painful) surgery, but it was a few weeks of discomfort for a lifetime of relief. Beyond saving me from back problems and ill-fitting clothes and leering men, it’s changed the way I think about myself — it’s given me the great gift of feeling normal. Becoming comfortable in my own skin has made me a generally more happy and secure person — a transformation which has probably influenced my life in countless ways that I don’t even realize.

Of course I still have issues with the way my breasts look, but so does pretty much every woman alive. We all wish ours were a little prettier, a little bigger or smaller, perkier or less firm. (Actually, I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to be less perky, but you know what I mean.) My breasts aren’t perfect, but they’re fine. I don’t love them, but I don’t hate them either. In fact, the thing I like most about my breasts now is that I never have to think about them. Instead I can spend my time paying attention to my work and the people I care about and all the things in life that are way more interesting than boobs.

Virginia R. is a writer who happily looks just like everyone else.



175 Comments / Post A Comment

Debbie Holland@facebook

I waited until I was 62 before I had the good sense to have my breast reduction surgery. I went from an H cup to a C. And happier I've never been.

MidoriSour

I actually just created an account after lurking forever (Hi, Hairpin!) to cosign this entire post. Although, I have to say that I was probably a bit more excited about my new perky normal-sized boobs post-surgery and would show them to anyone who would wanted to look and probably a lot of people who didn't. That was 7 years ago, and I still think they are fabulous. A new gyno recently told me that she thought my scars looked great (she would know, right?) and I was like beaming for the rest of the day. My boob scars look awesome! Ha. Ok, but, for real, probably one of the best things I ever did.

tralala

also delurked/registered just to comment! In fact I am having this surgery ON FRIDAY. How odd and providential to have this story pop up on one of my favorite websites. (Confirming my good judgment.) I'm 44 and waited until I was done having children to do it--and am very, very nervous, also excited. Thank you for posting this.

j
j

@tralala Good for you! I remember taking off my bandages for the first time. I almost fainted! They were flat against my chest! It looked like I was an A. I kept thinking 'Oh my god, what did I do?!" But within the next few days they "fluffed" back out.

MidoriSour

@tralala Good luck! You are going to be so excited when you go to the store and buy a bra that is not white, beige, black, or leopard print.

tralala

and doesn't look like I could carry a bowling ball in it!

Heidi

@tralala good luck! I think I will follow a similar path...I am nursing a baby right now, but my 38G/H boobs have been the bane of my existence for 20 years. It was only recently that I realized surgery might be a valid option. But now that I've waited this long, I may as well wait until I'm done having babies and all the size changing due to hormonal swings has balanced out.
Really wish I'd had the nerve to do it at 18 or so though. I was a DD at 13 and have never been perky.

tralala

@Heidi I was one of the few people I knew whose breasts were larger after pregnancy. I was so excited to be smaller, even if deflated. Good luck to you--either way.

marisaissleepy

@tralala You will do wonderful! Having my surgery 4 years ago was the best thing I've ever done for myself. You won't regret it! Have fun dress/bra/blouse shopping!

j
j

Perfect article. Your story mirrored my own. I was a C in 6th grade! By the time I had the surgery done in college I was a large DD. Very large. It has been 16 years since I had my surgery. Most of the scars are gone and I could have breast fed if I wanted to (I did a little, but I was still uncomfortable with the girls - 'cause they ballooned back up. I had a hard time looking down and see a breast that was twice the size of my baby's head). I'm back to a D / DD again (even though I weigh the same as I did in college), but the scar tissue acts like a natural underwire. Maybe it's age & feeling more comfortable with who I am, but I love my breasts now. If there are girls out there thinking of having this surgery done, ask around. I was surprised to learn how many people have had this done or knew someone that had. Here's to great breasts!

BusyBrie

I just created an account to comment on this post too! Woot! The greatest thing my parents have ever done for me was letting me get a reduction at 17. (OK, throwing my wedding was great too!) I also don't think you mentioned that reductions are commonly covered by health insurance. Boo-yeah! I truly wish I could hand out little cards extolling the virtues of a reduction to uncomfortably-large girls I see on the street. It changed my life, and no dude has ever even noticed the scars. :)

purplesocks

@BusyBrie i also had mine when i was 17! hands down the best decision i ever made in my life, and looking back i can't believe i had the courage to go through with it. my parents let me do it, because their insurance covered it, but my mom was not supportive at all. i was so ashamed of my body and everything changed after my surgery. i consider it the turning point of my life. for a while i was kinda embarrassed about the scars, and i always felt like i had to inform new boyfriends about them, but now i don't even care and no dude has ever seemed to mind. i will be kinda bummed if i can't breastfeed when that time comes, but i will never regret having the surgery done. my mom still can't believe that i don't have any regrets about it, and i can't imagine what she thinks i might regret. not fitting into clothes my size because my boobs are ginormous? having strange men make incredibly inappropriate comments? having to wear two sports bras? NO. best.decision.ever.

steve

@purplesocks I feel I can safely speak for all dudes in saying that we just quite like boobs, scars or marks or whatever. And comfortable & confident always equals ridiculously sexy.

muddgirl

The last paragraph really struck me - the idea that cosmetic surgery can help us stop obsessing about some feature that seems out of place.

My doctor-friend once told me that they often don't want to give pain killers after anaesthesia until the patient has visibly woken up - in other words, almost everyone wakes up from general anaesthesia in incredible pain, it's just that most people don't remember it.

missneni

@muddgirl My mom's a surgical nurse, so yeah. Everyone wakes up in pain. If they gave you the painkillers before you woke up they wouldn't be able to fully check out that you've woken up ok. It's just that through the magic of anesthesia most people don't remember it.

insouciantlover

Oh man, this article was intense. Also, it's going to make me hyper aware of every crumb that falls into my cleavage and hyper resentful of every button-up shirt or non-stretchy dress that I see in the next couple of weeks.

DorothyMantooth

@insouciantlover Have you ever made your hand "disappear" by putting it on your stomach? Yeah.

insouciantlover

@DorothyMantooth Oh man, why did you have to teach me that trick?

DorothyMantooth

@insouciantlover Ha! It's how I amuse myself at a boring party. You're welcome!

sparrow303

@DorothyMantooth It's like magic! Look Ma, no hands!

thelittledeath

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've been wanting this surgery for the last 12 years, and am almost at the perfect conjunction of insurance, funding and ability to get time off of work. The leering men element is one that isn't often discussed, but anyone that's had 35 year-old men thinking a 15 year-old girl with DDD's is fair game, knows differently. Always looking overweight, even when perfectly healthy is another biggie. It got to the point, a while back, that I gave up on keeping weight off - because I'd always look chunky. Luckily, that time is past, and it's on to a new, easily clothe-able future!

PJDee

I too have just created an account so I could comment here. Like the author, I've had "too-big-for-my-body" boobs since adolescence. However, I've spent a couple of decades coming to terms with this rather than going the surgery route. I've been lucky enough to not have any terrible back or shoulder problems, though. (BTW, I've noticed that when I'm on a regular exercise regimen, I have no pain at all. But I digress.)

A couple of things struck me about this article. One was that, from what the author writes, her surgeon tried to convince her that the shape of her breasts was not "normal" for a young woman. I call b.s. Healthy breasts are normal breasts, whatever the shape, whatever your age.

The other thing was this: she says that men react to her entire physicality now, rather than going immediately for the chest. I too struggled with that for ages. But I just cannot see undergoing painful, invasive surgery to make society more comfortable with my body. When will we start teaching men how to effing behave?

/rant. Thanks.

Heidi

@PJDee While I agree in theory with your rant, I also think it's really hard to be the individual torch bearer. Yes, leering is bad and those who leer should be taught not to. But. If I can remove myself from the situation, why not?

heb
heb

@PJDee I can see your point regarding the doctor (however, I took it more as "Your breasts are larger than most women of your age, and therefore they also are sagging a bit more than most women of your age." rather than "LETS MAKE YOU LOOK NORMAL") but I don't think she ever said she underwent surgery so men would react to her differently. It seems more like a perk, after SHE chose what SHE wanted to do about HER health issues associated with HER breasts.

PJDee

@heb "Normal" was the author's word. She said "perky, normal shape." I think the author is perfectly within her rights to do whatever she likes with her own body, but I really think the concept that there is a "normal" woman's body that we should all strive for is something we need to think about. Words do have meaning.

MidoriSour

@PJDee I also used "normal" in my comment about my own reduction, to mean average. You make a good point, though--certainly, I would never imply that any part of anyone's body was abnormal. That's a good one to watch out for in the future.

nancydrew

@PJDee This totally bugged me too. My breasts look like that, and I'm tired of things like this that make me feel like I'm not supposed to like them or there is something wrong with them that needs correcting.

You know what's not normal? Surgically altered breasts.

melis

Someone's got to do it, so: neither are contact lenses, bras, nylon stockings, or gummi bears. At no point in the article does the OP suggest that everyone with breasts her size should feel a certain way about their bodies. All she said was that she felt uncomfortable in her own skin and suffered from back and neck pain. She made a particular choice, and she's happy with the result.

nancydrew

@melis Yes, wearing a bra, eating gummi bears or needing contacts to see properly is the same as surgically altering your body. Exactly the same thing.

melis

I was going for more of a points-along-a-continuum kind of thing, but you seem pretty determined to stay upset over this, so sure.

groggette

Getting my tubes tied sure as hell wasn't natural either (speaking of surgically altering your body), but like my breast reduction it changed my life for the better, and I don't regret either for a second.

phenylalanine

@melis Thanks for the points-on-a-continuum thing. I mean, of COURSE no one should be made to feel ashamed or abnormal for something that they are perfectly happy with, and I'm sorry people's word choices have made you feel that way, @nancydrew. [For just that reason I'm actually a huge fan of using typical in these situations instead of "normal." I remember that as a teenager, being able to think of myself as "atypical" instead of "abnormal" did WONDERS for my self-esteem. :)]

However, I'm also super sick of (for example) being judged for taking hormonal birth control to manage my period/dysmenorrhea... so yep. Just because it's not natural or "normal" (whatever you mean when you say that, @nancydrew) doesn't mean it's not important for some people. :)

nancydrew

Hmm, I probably sounded overly harsh, but my point was more about describing a certain type of breast as normal. My breasts are normal too. Honestly, this whole article just made me sad and upset, and I'm still sorting out why. Lots of good points. :)

julie lauren

@PJDee I kindof took a strange almost offense to that, too. like i realize the author isn't saying it's okay to assume busty women are slutty, but...

raised amongst catalogs

I work for a plastic surgeon and when I started here six years ago, I was shocked when I saw the breast reduction results. I didn't know, having come from a non-surgical employment background, that they start out very boxy and later round out. I was horrified that my boss was giving ladies squareboobs! It's amazing how much better they look after a couple of months.

PJDee

Oh, and looking fat when you're not really fat? Yeah, I know. But for God's sake. This is another problem that is society's to get over.

Girl Wonder

Thanks for the article. I have been experiencing boob hate for a while now. After pregnancy and breastfeeding, my 32E boobs are now sad and deflated. They get in the way of exercise, keep me from wearing what I want to wear, are just a general embarrassment to me. How do you find out if you are a good candidate for this? Do you just ask your regular doctor?

MidoriSour

@Girl Wonder I think you can get a referral from your regular doctor. They basically ask three questions to get your health insurance to cover it. Do you have back/neck pain? Does it prevent you from exercise? Do you have a negative body image because of breast size? Answer Yes to all three and your health insurance should cover it. (Obviously, YMMV depending on insurance, etc.)

fondue with cheddar

@Girl Wonder My sister-in-law had boobs smaller than yours and she had the surgery after she finished breastfeeding. It made a huge difference in her clothed appearance, and she feels much better naked now because they're perky again.

Ester Bloom@facebook

Ughhhhh. This makes me want to cry. Especially this: "Almost overnight guys began treating me like a pretty girl instead of an easy girl. When they would talk to me, they would approach me like I was a normal person. They took me seriously."

Of course you are entitled to whatever happiness surgery allows, but as another small, serious lady with porn-star breasts who has worked hard for years to come to terms with herself, I hate reading testimonials like this. The more people make deviations from the norm a medical issue, the more the norm is reinforced.

People began suggesting breast reductions to me from like age 13. Complete strangers still suggest them to me (one at a New Years Eve party!). I refuse to accept that they're a magic bullet. Self-acceptance, confidence, and bras that fit right have got to be able to get a person at least most of the way.

PJDee

@Ester Bloom@facebook Thank you. I was beginning to think I was all alone out there. It really disturbs me that women will cut off pieces of themselves in order to "fit" into society. Back problems are one thing -- feeling "pretty" or "normal" or not "easy" is another.

sophi

@Ester Bloom@facebook Yeah, this made made me really sad as well. I hated my (DDD) breasts for years, and it's only been in the past few years that I realized that they're actually kind of awesome and the only reason I thought they looked so shitty was that I was wearing minimizers and sports bras that were two sizes too small. Yeah, it sucks when Cheerios fall into my cleavage at breakfast, and it does mean shopping is a pain, and sometimes I wish they were perkier, but I don't think chopping them off would make me happier. I don't know.

PJDee

@sophi Yes, the Cheerios syndrome is especially tragic. Heh. I'm with you. After many years, and the birth and breastfeeding of a child, I think my enormous tatas are beautiful. I've never had any complaints, anyway...

im
im

@Ester Bloom@facebook i completely agree. i also would get asked, "so are you going to get a breast reduction?!" and also was told i had "porn star boobs" starting at age 13. and i don't like the implications that having big breasts makes you get treated like a slut, or "easy," or that i WASN'T TAKEN SERIOUSLY?! are you kidding. i never felt that way, although tons of men stared at my chest. however, as @PJDee says, back problems are one thing, and i had back and neck issues for years and years. so surgery was free. and those problems have almost entirely disappeared since surgery.

and, no, no one treats me any differently than they did before surgery.

lagreen

@sophi, @PJDee and @Ester Bloom@facebook: Thank you. I did not like this post--it made me really uncomfortable, like physically. I'm a DD and this post is making me feel kind of ick about my breasts (yes, breasts! not boobs!) that I love. Especially that fracking drawing. I don't have those "perky" breasts shown on the right side and this post makes me feel like everyone is supposed to have tits like that? I don't think so, especially not as we get older. I also didn't like how the words "normal" and "healthy" were thrown around so much. /rant.

vapur
vapur

@Ester Bloom@facebook @sophi Chopping them off doesn't make you happier--trust me, I know, I had the surgery at 16. After the surgery and the pain and the scars, you're still left with emotional issues stemming from years of being regarded as simply a pair of breasts and not a human being. But it does allow you to have a little bit of space and perspective to try and figure everything out. Having a breast reduction was the best decision I've ever made, and it allowed me to finally figure out that I was worth more than my body. Is it for everyone? Of course not. But I think in the end, the women who are pro-surgery and the women who are anti-surgery are all just trying to figure out a way to not hate ourselves and our bodies.

nevermind

@Ester Bloom@facebook YES. thank you. Also a DD, who has struggled with self-confidence about these things ever since junior high school. This article made me cry. I don't want a breast reduction. I just want people to design clothes that fit me.

Ester Bloom@facebook

@lagreen @imo @PJDee @sophi CONCUR. That drawing of those perky tits is death. It illustrates perfectly yet another way in which we are all set up to fail, cuz even if you look like that now -- from luck or from surgery -- at some point your nipples will be at your belly-button. We may as well get accustomed to that early.

I'm spending a lot of time this afternoon thinking about Christina Hendricks, and I invite you to join me.

wee_ramekin

@imo I don't know that the author was saying that having big breasts makes everyone get treated like a slut or "easy", but she is saying that it happened to her. Is that really so hard to believe in the kind of culture that we live in?

Also - and this is anecdotal so take it for what it's worth - I had an extremely large-breasted best friend who said the same thing that the author is saying. She was also pretty introverted and serious, but she said that at the age of twelve (twelve!) people assumed she was easy and slutty because of the size of her breasts. I am truly glad that you have not experienced this, but I don't think there's reason to doubt that plenty of women have.

nancydrew

@Ester Bloom@facebook Thank you for saying this. I don't want lose nipple sensation, not be able to breast feed and have scarred breasts so I can be "normal" and "pretty".

PJDee

@wee_ramekin I've experienced it to a certain extent, but I think similar things happen to flat-chested women with big butts, and flat-all-over women, and fat women, and women-women. It goes along with the territory, sort of like how victims of rape are asked what they were wearing, despite the fact that children and nuns and old women also get raped.

groggette

@vapur Is it for everyone? Of course not. But I think in the end, the women who are pro-surgery and the women who are anti-surgery are all just trying to figure out a way to not hate ourselves and our bodies.

Cosigned. Heartily.

CyberAly

@lagreen Yes! That drawing, man. Do people realize how many women have breasts like Fig A? What defines normal? I would say that the first are kind of normal - certainly common.

As many other posters here have commented, I was the 13 year old getting inappropriate comments, gropes and skeevy old man flirting too. I did not like it and it has caused me some emotional and physical challenges over the years. However, I am so glad that I did not have any kind of surgery. I love my chest now! Different strokes for different folks - my bf loves my breasts as they are. Does that mean he is weird or abnormal?

I don't mind one woman sharing her obviously painful journey of self-acceptance. The body dysmorphia screams out through every line, though, and that is unfortunate. I would think Hairpin might know a little better than to perpetuate the idea that X, Y or C cup is "normal" and preferable.

purplesocks

@wee_ramekin in middle school i had friends whose moms didn't like them hanging out with me because i looked so much older. it was one thing when kids my age judged me based on my breast size but so so so much worse when adults did it.

fosherbert

@Ester Bloom@facebook Same here with DD-DDDs and I've been pretty ok with it, except for the fact that it's hard to find clothes and minor back pain. But now I've been sitting here thinking for the past hour, "oh! so that's why all the creeps would come up to ME and not my friends at last call!" and recalling other life events and blaming them on the boulders on my chest and so on, and now developing a complex... I'd never really thought my breasts affect the way people treat me, but maybe they do?!?!

im
im

@wee_ramekin i hear you, for sure. i think i was just afraid that this was more of a generalization than her personal experience. (or that it was more perspective than factual for everyone w/ big breasts.)

actually, maybe i should retract everything i said re: being perceived as slutty. because i just remembered when i was with my two skinny small-breasted friends (i was slim but not as skinny as them), and for some reason--while wearing a similar and looser-fitting outfit than they had on--a young woman next to her boyfriend called out directly to me and me alone, "you look like a WHORE!" i often remember that and think it was solely because of how busty i was. damn them all.

lagreen

@CyberAly and all others: hell yeah, breasts-as-they-are-lovers! Y'all got me feeling empowered after reading an downer post. Thank you all!

ilikemints

@imo
I don't have anything to really add to that story, except WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Now I'm just going to be fuming about how needlessly bitchy people can be.

wee_ramekin

@PJDee I think that big breasts = perceived sexual promiscuity in our culture much more so than the other body shapes you cite. It seems to me that the assertions of "sluttiness" and "being easy" that can come along with being big-breasted can be especially harmful because so many buxom women start to develop at fairly young ages. I know my well-endowed friend (and my busty little sister, and my cousin with DD-breasts, etc.) all had to deal with pointed attention from the Jerkcircus a lot earlier than I did.

I definitely agree that dealing with the shit that other people project on our bodies happens to all women regardless of shape/size/age/what-have-you, I just feel like it comes sooner to our big-breasted sisters.

Also (and this is super not me trying to be a jerk!), I'm not sure what you meant when you wrote "...sort of like how victims of rape are asked what they were wearing, despite the fact that children and nuns and old women also get raped.". Could you clarify?

parla

@wee_ramekin SERIOUSLY. I developed very very early (A cup at 10, C by the time I was 12) and had all kinds of rumors spread about me in school because of my bra size. Also got some terribly unwarranted attention from men WAY older than I was that was emotionally damaging. Even now, I feel like a lot of my colleagues don't take me as seriously as they should/assume I am not as smart or capable as I actually am because of my monster boobs/big butt. Part of this goes with the stereotypes both men and women in my field (chemical research) face, but it's really annoying when people assume you don't know what you're taking about, and that you seduced the head of research to get your job.

sweetleah

@Ester Bloom@facebook : Totally agree with you! Why should i have to undergo expensive painful surgery when designers could make a frickin bathing suit with some support once in awhile??

Ester Bloom@facebook

@sweetleah I have one and it's awesome! (It comes with a built-in bra rather than a mesh shelf.) It comes from this site, which also has great regular bras: http://www.figleaves.com/us/home.asp

snicker snack

@sweetleah The good European bra makers (Panache and Fantasie are my favs) also make bathing suits. They cost a lot more than the Target option, but it feels really good to know that you're not going to fall out. Plus, you look hot!

HelenaHandbasket

I spent my teenage years hating my giant breasts but am so glad my doctor recommended not to get reduction surgery before 21 (despite me breaking down in tears in her office at 15 because of them). Now at 26 I am a 32K (10K in Aus) and am very happy with them - they are a part of who I am, though I do still get frustrated at not being able to run or find nice clothes that fit. I've found that wearing good bras that have been altered by a seamstress to fit properly make them look smaller. I've decided not to have surgery but might consider a reduction after/if I have kids.

@nevermind @sweetleah YES to wanting clothes designed for girls with more up top.

And DOUBLE YES to the Christina Hendricks love.

PJDee

@wee_ramekin Sure I'll clarify: being female in this culture gets you unwanted attention. No matter your shape or your age. That's all.

And again: if big breasts are perceived as a sign of sluttiness/easiness (maybe the are, but I think the booty has come into its own of late) it should not be up to a large-breasted woman (or teenage girl who hasn't even finished growing for CHRISSAKES) to alter the behavior of others by chopping up her own body.

Bittersweet

@imo: Sorry that happened to you. Last summer I was gardening in my front yard (in baggy shorts and ancient, baggy flannel shirt) when a biker rode by and yelled "WHORE!" at me. Who knows why? Because I was bending over, pulling weeds? All this to say, you can't control the assholery.

Shivelli

@ilikemints Excuse me, but as a young woman who is still in her teens and is wearing currently a SIZE G bra size, do not make pointlessly negative comments without any constructive critisism. Some people need this post- not to have pornstar boobs but because some people have literal difficulty going about daily life and having to drag around boobs that make up half your size every damn day.

synchronized
synchronized

While your feelings on this are totally valid and surgery is obviously your own choice to make, I have to say that I'm a little offended by this dichotomy you construct between breasts that are "too big" and smaller breasts. I'm also a DD and have experienced so many of the problems you describe, but at the same time, I would never write that smaller breasts are more "normal" in some way.

Right above the breast diagram, you comment that your doctor said your breasts would "be more of a perky, normal shape after the surgery." Clearly, this prospect was thrilling to you -- and that's great! I'm glad you made the right decision. But you continue using this normal (/presumably abnormal?) comparison throughout the article, and aside from being hurtful, it just plain isn't true.

C cups are not what's normal. DD isn't either, and I'm pretty sure your idealized "tomboyish A-cup" doesn't fit the bill. This is my main problem here: There is no perfect bra size. Normal comes in a whole lot of shapes and sizes, and I think women would be a lot better off if we recognized that.

Lily Rowan

@synchronized - And, of course "normal" does not equal "average" does not equal "perfect."

cherrispryte

@Lily Rowan Yeah I really wish the "yay for normal!" thing wasn't so strong in all of this. Also that big automatically equals bad, but, you know, whatever.

tralala

I agree that it ought not to be a problem, but the "ought not" constitutes a problem in itself. I went back and forth about this for over twenty years--accept your body/BUT IT HURTS/it's just vanity/BUT IT HURTS. Every good reason for doing it seems counteracted by the fact of elective surgery on breasts.

What tipped it (so to speak) for me was being three cup sizes larger after pregnancy. (Three years after--I waited.) Somehow it made it more "right," although I still have moments of feeling like this is utter selfishness. There's some good larger point here--about the internalization and embodiment of the debate--but after twenty years I am done trying to figure it out.

im
im

i had a very extremely similar experience and was glad to read this novella about it.

but, not sure i like the sentiment about "now i know why everyone gets PLASTIC SURGERY!" at the end. (often when you are cleared for free breast reduction surgery, the cosmetic aspect is extra money, meaning it's optional, meaning the rest of the surgery is usually not considered "plastic surgery.")

equating this to getting a nose job because you don't like your nose or getting work done because you "have a strange chin" seems odd and is far, far different to me than this specific, often medically necessary surgery. my boobs weren't "strange," they were just HUGE--enough to cause me physical and emotional anguish. and i would have never had surgery if that weren't the case.

fuck yeah i love these scars. they don't cause me pain.

parallel-lines

@imo Yeah, I used to work in plastic surgery (as a scrub tech) and there was a noticable difference between the attitudes of people who came in for certain procudures (breast reduction, scar revision) vs. cosmetic ones (implants, nose jobs) in that the latter were rarely happy with the results or would end up getting more surgery on other things they suddenly noticed weren't perfect, while the former were more one-timers. And yes, this one is major - the drains are beserk and the recovery is rough in a way most people don't anticipate.

MandyTori

I've also created an account just to comment. Wonderful, personal account that I can really relate to. I'm rather busty, but I'm keeping my breasts for now (long ago I went to a consultation for a reduction, but I never went through with it). Getting properly fitted and working as a bra fitter for years helped. Switching from awful 36D bras to pretty and supportive 32G bras helped with some of the pain and discomfort (although my back still hurts a bit more than it should). Seeing a gazillion pairs of breasts helped even more. There really is no such thing as normal (like PJDee I'm miffed about the doctor's comment).

I still get annoyed when finding clothes or when people think that because my breasts are large they are public property (Funny enough, I actually get this from women more than men). I'm happy with my breasts for now, but I think I may get a reduction in the far off future. It could be nice to spend my 50s with smaller breasts.

PJDee

@MandyTori "...when people think that because my breasts are large they are public property (Funny enough, I actually get this from women more than men)."

YES! I can't tell you how many times female acquaintances have looked me over like there was something wrong with me and asked if I'd considered reduction. I used to get upset. Now I'm just like "no. Why?" Sigh. Sisterhood is beautiful and all that.

Jillsy Sloper

@MandyTori Ah, a bra fitter in the thread! I myself have had plastic surgery, so I in NO WAY judge the author, but it was confusing me a little bit that she and her surgeon referred to a "C-cup" as if that's a breast size. It isn't! A 32C is a very different amount of breast tissue than a 36C. And DD's aren't necessarily massive -- I'm a size 10/12 and wear a 36DD myself, but I don't feel my breasts are that large or bothersome.

Now, if the author was slim and fit, wore a DD, had back pain and red marks from her bra's shoulder straps, and found her breasts really bothersome, I suspect she was actually a 32F/G or larger. I'm very glad that she is so happy with her surgery, but wonder if she would have felt differently about her breasts if she'd had better bras when she was younger.

Xora

@PJDee Be careful. You don't want people to think that you think that other women are jealous of you because you're pretty. :P

whimsy

@MandyTori
I am very happy someone finally mentioned that I feel like I get many more outright ridiculous comments from WOMEN.... Men seem to be more in awe of them, and they ask me how big they are, but they don't make the comments like women do.
I also have never seriously given much thought to getting a reduction, but I also didn't get really big (like E/F cup) until I was 15 or 16 so I didn't get a lot of the awkward middle school. I was already pretty confident and my doctor has actually informed me that my good posture is probably what is preventing my from having back problems.

and can we continue a conversation at some other time on finding cute bathing suits? One pieces are out because anything that fits my boobs is not going to conform to my butt and all of the bikini tops... well that's a lack of support!

chickadee

Add me to the legion of new de-lurkers... This surgery has been my dream for over twenty years, currently waiting with fingers crossed to hear back from the insurance company.

The very idea of being able to go for a run without strapping on an industrial containment system makes me want to swoon.

groggette

Hey look, it's another person who created an account just for this post! I got my reduction about 4 years ago now and it's one of the best things I've ever done for my body and mind. I admire the women with large breasts who own that shit and I'd never suggest someone needs a reduction (just offer my experience if asked) but I hated my body when I had larger breasts. It got to the point where I was bawling my eyes out whenever I realized I had to go up yet another cup size. I felt like a freak because my knees would hit my breasts when I biked, and I could no longer properly swing a softball bat. I feel like my body is really my own now and I walk taller and prouder and fucking own this body.

Couple random tidbits on my experience: I actually got more sensation in my nipples post surgery. It was possibly just a mental thing since I hated my breasts and everything about them before, but I'm not complaining now. I didn't notice the same shift in guys oppinions of me but I did obviously have a lot less blatant chest staring.

And if you're the tattoo type you can get creative with your scars. (note bene: the rib cage hurts like hell to tattoo but you can't feel anything at all on the actual scars) I tattooed stitches across the scars and had them end in some large buttons on each side.

groggette

@groggette Oh my god, and the ability to actually sleep on my stomach now! It was worth it just for that.

ilikemints

I also want to comment on that awful drawing. I don't have large breasts by any means, but ever since I started developing, they've ALWAYS looked like the drawing on the left. They've never been perky, and it's been a source of shame and embarrassment. It hurts to have my body issues confirmed like this, and frankly I'm sick of perpetually feeling inadequate based on how my body decided to grow.

cherrispryte

@ilikemints Yeah. Also, the phrase "ugly pink stretch marks."

dietrich

@ilikemints Oh yes. 32DDD here, and that picture makes me want to cry because it's exactly what I've kind of always wanted and won't ever have without massive surgery. Ugh, and being forced to take ballet-- no bras allowed!-- after being an early developer... I want to stress that I'm actually really glad to read such an honest and straight-forward narrative, and it makes me seriously reconsider the surgery in a pretty sober fashion. I'm so glad things worked out so well for the writer! But the picture really gets me down-- it's years of worrying about being weird or super noticeable for the wrong reasons wrapped up in a silly little sketch.

PJDee

@ilikemints Yep. I'm not a connoisseur of other women's breasts, but I'm willing to bet that most of us don't have breasts that look like pointy fucking elf shoes. Poor abnormal most of us, huh?

beeline96

@PJDee THIS! I don't have any problem with the writer's decision to have surgery - I may have it myself "someday" (I would prefer to do it post-childbearing, which won't be for a while) but also I might not. I was, however, incensed to have my breast shape referred to as something less-than-desirable. Seriously? TheHairpin usually makes me feel great about my body! Besides, in a correctly-sized, well-fitting bra, my clothed breasts look just like everyone else's. (Loved the earlier article on bra-buying, maybe 1-2 months ago.)

When I was younger I had an illustrated guide to puberty (I can't remember the title - maybe "The Period Book"?? - it had a black cover with awesome cartoons). The artist depicted many different body types and breast shapes, including coney-boobs and elf-boobs, and explained that all are "normal". So there.

PJDee

@beeline96 Thing is, whoever wrote "The Period Book" wanted to make you feel good and proud of your developing body. Whereas plastic surgeons want your money, and they won't get it if you're happy with your breasts. (I feel like I'm turning into the Breast Advocate Lady, here. Heh.)

Jenivere

I finally registered because of this post, too. I had my surgery done a little less than a year ago, and it is definitely the best thing I've ever done for myself. I feel better physically and am more confident. And I can shop at normal stores for clothes now! Wonderful!

I would add, like BusyBrie, that insurance often does cover this surgery, which is awesome! However, be prepared to jump through some hoops to get there - it will have to be pre-approved by your insurance company, and even after that there can be some difficulties getting them to pay for everything. But overall I ended up paying just over $2,000 out of pocket, which was totally worth it for me. And now I can wear lady gaga-style bras if I feel like it, and that is priceless.

sdlave

'Friends of mine confirmed the difference so I knew I hadn’t imagined it, and I’ve since talked to other people who’ve had breast reductions and experienced the very same shift. Something to think about.'

I originally read 'shift' as 'shit' and completely agreed.

Sitting here in my custom altered 36I boulder-holder, I still can't get down for the surgery. Perhaps in another decade or so if I'm truly unhappy, however I am known for a searing stink eye and exquisite bitch face so have not had to put up with any ogling/unwanted physical contact since high school.

I pity the fool who would be stupid enough to invite themselves to my cleavage without an express invitation.

jace

I went from a DDD to a C only to have them come back. I wish, very often, that I had never had the surgery done at all. :[

Ksquared

@jace ME TOO!!! I went from a 38DDD to a small 36C and now 5 years later I am busting out of a 36D. It's so upsetting. Although I wonder if I hadn't had the surgery if I would be in a G cup by now....

Stef

@jace Just wondering did you gain any weight? And do you know how many CC's they took out of each breat by chance? I'm a 36DDD and want to be a 36D but my isurance says that I have to take out at least 325cc from each side so I'm afriad that will make me too small?

msboyd

Just created an account to comment on this! I had my reduction about 5 years ago (went from a 32FF/G to a 32C - and after a hellish experience breastfeeding, I wish I'd had it done sooner and had never gone down that road, but that's another story) and couldn't be happier. It was a longer recovery than I expected, but so worth it. I took up running afterward - something I never could have done before - and now am training for half marathons. I've never lost weight from that area before, but in the last year they seem to have settled at an even smaller size that better balances out my frame - down to a B. I love not having back pain, but more than that, I love being active - it's an entirely different life from the one I had before.

MidoriSour

@msboyd Do you mind if I ask you about your breastfeeding experience? Was that post-reduction? Was it kind of obvious, like, oh, ok, that's not going to work? Or is there more involved than that?

DrFeelGood

Hey guys, if you want to feel totally good about your bodies, take a life drawing class. The range of naked bodies you see is astounding, and everyone looks really different when they're naked! It was actually refreshing - to realize that everyone looks really different naked, and that movies and magazines are LYING to us, people do not look like that in real life...

thebestjasmine

Really fascinating, thank you. I'm not sure why there are so many commenters upset about the word normal -- I have really large breasts, and no, they aren't normal! It's not that that's a bad thing, there are plenty of things about me that aren't normal, and I'm fine with that. Normal isn't a value judgment. Also, the author isn't saying that it's a good thing that men talked to her breasts before her surgery and viewed her differently; it's just a fact. A fact that sucks, like many other facts that suck out there in the world. That picture though...yeah, that picture makes me sad.

runnernda

I had a reduction done when I was seventeen. I was a distance runner and a dancer. I didn't mind them too much, to be honest. I didn't really notice them (I went to an all-girls school and was a late bloomer, so the clothes and guy thing just didn't occur to me). Apparently, rumors that I stuffed my bra went around my school and camps, and the women who had to fit me for dance and theatre costumes made me feel like a freak or troublesome by sighing when I'd come in for a fitting and saying things like "This isn't going to fit you right, but it's all we've got" or "Why do you bother dancing?" or "Looks like we're going to have to alter something for you AGAIN."

The hurt that the rumors and the women inflicted led my mom to suggest the surgery. I got it done over the summer (I went from a DDD to a C), and it was the best thing I've ever done. Clothes fit! I'm proportionate! Wow! I had Steri-Strips instead of stitches, and I didn't have to wear a compression bra. I just wasn't allowed to exercise for a month. Also, the doctor's office took an unclothed picture of me from my neck to my hips before the surgery, and my insurance company covered it because I was so obviously disproportionate. I've still got a sizable chest, but it looks like it actually fits on my body. I recommend this surgery. Yeah, the pain sucks, but the end result is SO worth it.

Stef

@runnernda Do you know how many CC's they took out from each breast? I'm a 36DDD or so and my insurance will cover it but they have to take a minimum of 325cc from each breast to total 650. I wouldn't mind being a C cup but I would rather be a D cup so that away when and if I lose weight, which I plan on doing, if I lose weight in my breast I'll then be a C cup. Does that make sense?

Xora

Jesus. Am I the only person here who:
1) has had big breasts since adolescence and *never* felt bad about it, and
2) was totally turned off of the idea of reduction surgery by this post?

It sounds completely traumatizing. My back doesn't hurt, maybe because I wear the right size bra. I'm not ashamed of my breasts, probably because all the women in my family have big breasts, too. Immature men's leering or commentary doesn't bother me because... why should it? Other people's bad behavior isn't my problem.

sparrow303

@Xora I also have huge boobs and love them, but I think it depends on a lot of things...

I'm not disproportionate, for one, and my pair has never hurt my back or prevented me from wearing normal clothing. Okay, they do keep me out of halter tops and strapless dresses, but I'm over it.

My mom's, on the other hand, are kind of disproportionate, and if she decided to do a reduction (she's thought about it), I would support that, because it's her right to do whatever will make her feel good.

So: If you love 'em, leave 'em, but if they're messing up your life/back/fashion sense, I think the point here is that breast reduction can be an option.

Xora

@fishiefishfish Oh, I totally support anyone's right to do it. And, like your mom, I've considered doing it, myself. Because it'd be nice to expand my wardrobe possibilities with button-down shirts.

But it's weird to read comment after comment about people hating their breasts and wonder if I'm an abnormal narcissist for not hating mine.

SuZQ10

@Xora It's really great actually that you have had such a great experience with your breasts. Again - the whole thing about each women is different and heavy breasts that are cumbersome effects people differently.

You should be thankful that you haven't had posture issues, chronic neck & back pain and overall uncomfortableness.
For most women it's not about looks - it's about a surgical solution to help correct posture and have the ability to do day to day things without very heavy and large breasts getting in the way.

Again though - that is really great you have had no issues. You are definitely not in the majority! :-)

pickles

Wow, there is so much negativity towards this article and women that choose to have breast reduction surgery. The author at no point says that every woman with large breasts should get a boob job, she simple shares her experience. For people that are so "accepting" of their own bodies maybe you should try opening your minds to her experience, or leave the article to like-minded people that are genuinly interested in breast reduction surgery (or atleast reading about one).

sophi

@pickles There are just as many comments saying "my breast reduction was the best choice I ever made" as there are comments expressing discomfort with the article. The idea that people who disagree with the writer's viewpoint shouldn't comment is completely ridiculous. I have more respect for the readers of this blog than to expect that kind of attitude.

Xora

@pickles I don't think there's any negativity toward women who choose to have breast reduction surgery anywhere in these comments.

Saaoirse

This post really did make me feel kind of sad. I'm seventeen (Sorry, the Hairpin! I know I'm not who you're aimed at, and I swear to god that I'm doing my best not to lower the tone with commenting about BOYS and MY DARK POETRY and MY PARENTS,OMG LOL) so I'm good at having bad self-esteem. I also have a pair of British-scale-32Es. So I guess the idea that the thing standing between me the paradise presented here- guys talking to me with both interest and respect, and looking at me in a way that is magically less objectifying than now- is surgery is both attractive and kind of devastating. I am one thousand percent in favour of women who need or want them getting breast reductions, and would never argue otherwise. But I guess I also find the idea of having to do anything to your body to be treated human more depressing than empowering. The article is great, but what it makes me think about makes me sad. (BUT LIKE I SAY, seventeen, shitty self-esteem, please disregard.)

snicker snack

@Saaoirse I refuse to disregard your comment. Just because you're 17 doesn't mean you don't have a voice worthy of comment. I agree with you wholeheartedly. At 17 I had ginormous breasts (sized wrong, of course) and was self conscious about my body - as was every single other 17 year old girl in high school. I'm not 2x your age and my yayas are even larger - 32H European. I love them. They're huge and distracting and I feel slightly sorry for the men I work with because they try so valiantly not to look at my chest. I decided a long time ago to just revel in my hotness (I have a bit of a Betty Boob thing going on) and wow them with my brain when they least expect it. The idea of surgically altering my body to conform to cultural expectations of normal is devastating, imo, but, in the end, this all just comes down to self esteem and the choices a person needs to make to feel good about themselves. Would I make the same choice? Obviously not. Am I happy that the author feels better about herself through the wonders of modern science? Yes. But I also think that getting a real fitting in a store that sells European bras instead of the department store will go a long way to help women feel better about the way the look. Panaches for everyone!

MidoriSour

@Saaoirse A breast reduction can be a panacea for many things--back pain, bad posture, restricted mobility while excercising, ill fitting clothing, etc. A magical cure for guys looking at you with more respect, however, it is not. Anyone having major surgery for that reason is going to be horribly disappointed. Because the truth is, assholes are assholes regardless of how big your breasts are.

im
im

@MidoriSour thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. i don't know if anyone's reasoning to the doctor when asked "why are you getting a breast reduction?" is "i want to conform to society." (and if it is, holy hell good god, do not get surgery.) i think we should have a higher opinion of our fellow ladies than to think that's why they get breast reductions.

Lickerish

Like a bunch of others above, I have been reading Hairpin for ages but for the first time feel compelled to comment. My reduction, about 10 years ago in my early 20s, was the best $5,000 I ever spent. I relate to everything mentioned here (the feelings of discomfort, disproportion, etc.). I understand that some women love their supersized funbags and that's fine! But I can say my surgery erased a decade of self-consciousness and distress, overnight. Post-reduction I was able to run and exercise more, dress in clothes that better reflected my personal preference and stand up straighter. I am physically and psychologically healthier, and I don't regret it a bit. BTW unless you are coming down many cup sizes, I can recommend a reduction by liposuction rather than mammoplasty; it's less invasive (keyhole surgery), is a day procedure and involves zero scarring.

Xora

@Lickerish Are you trying to be funny when you say "supersized funbags," or crude, or dismissive, or what?

I'm trying to think of an equivalent: "I understand that some women love the [minimized water balloons][shrinkray-zapped hooters][child's menu melons] they got from surgery, and that's fine!"

If I said that here, would I come off as an asshole?

snicker snack

This post, and many of the comments that followed, just make me feel sad. Sad that as young women so many of us had to deal with gropy boys/men, inappropriate comments, leering and generally being sexualized early than we were ready for. I too had a woman's body when I was too young to know how to deal with it. I had to deal with boys/men thinking they could treat me in a certain way because I looked like some kind of female fertility goddess when I was 12. I was self conscious and hunched over and hoped no one would notice me. But I'm not so sure than 90% of the girls in my middle and high schools weren't feeling the same way for one reason or another.

I just feel so ambivalent about this article. I want to support the author for making a choice that helped her feel better about herself. That's great! It was scary and she went through it and seems to be better for it. On the other hand, jesus h. christ on a popsicle stick! Is this what it's come to? We resort to surgically altering our bodies so people don't assume we're sluts? I guess I get the back problems. I know I've had some issues over the years, but nothing that wasn't solved with regular exercise. (I understand this is not everyone's experience.)

This whole thing just scares the bejesus out of me. This is what I have to deal with as my daughters get older. Surgical manipulation of their developing bodies so they can feel "normal." What the hell is wrong with us?

PJDee

I know I've been all over this thread all day, but I've just got one more: I wonder if there would be so much outpouring of support if someone posted an article about getting implants because their small breasts got them negative attention and didn't seem "normal." Is it more acceptable to remove parts of ourselves than it is to add on?

groggette

@PJDee I'm just one person, but I got so much shit from everyone when I said I was getting a reduction. "Jokes" about how I was slapping God in the face; "But people PAY to get boobs your size!"; "Why can't you just like your body?" Oh yeah, let me flip that fucking switch and get on it. Not to mention that higher self esteem does nothing for crippling back pain. And contrary to condescending comments above (note: I don't think you said this PJDee but plenty of others did), well fitting bras (of which I had several) don't take all the pain away and do nothing when the problem is you don't want large breasts.

I can't speak to the experience of women who get implants but this outpouring of support here? People who get reductions don't often get this in their day to day life.

groggette

@PJDee
Also, I know the original writer talked about "normal" but can we please not act like that's the only, or main, reason behind everyone who gets a reduction? It's not.

im
im

@groggette i just want to make sure people see what you said here because it is so important. (and @PJDee, i'm feelin' like i'm all over this thread too and i can't help it!)

"Not to mention that higher self esteem does nothing for crippling back pain. And contrary to condescending comments above (note: I don't think you said this PJDee but plenty of others did), well fitting bras (of which I had several) don't take all the pain away and do nothing when the problem is you don't want large breasts."

PJDee

@imo I definitely don't mean to be condescending in any way. And I don't deny that for some people, having very large breasts can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable. I do have days like that myself, and there were times that I just wanted them out of my way. I do get that. But a lot of the focus of this article was on unwanted attention, and comments from other people, and a doctor who frankly has a product he wants to sell and plays on body-insecurity in order to sell it. THAT is problematic. Furthermore, all surgery carries risks and every woman should ask herself whether or not it's worth risking her life to look more like someone tells her she's supposed to.

MidoriSour

@groggette "When they take it off of you can they put it on to me?" hahaha. Sure, I'll just contact the medical waste facility and get that plastic bag full of fatty tissue for you.

Seriously, though, I've loved reading the comments from women with similar experiences. Because there is no one to talk to about it in day to day life, and if you do, people look at you like you are out of your mind, like you somehow won a genetic lottery and are ungrateful about it. It's interesting that a medical procedure, covered by health insurance, performed primarily to eliminate pain and promote physical comfort, can draw negative and questioning reactions. If I known the way this thread would go, I wouldn't have been so flippant in my original comment about my awesome breasts and my awesome scars. For me, it's such a joyful topic, because I love the way my reduction has positively changed my life--and that change has nothing to do with being attractive to society or fitting into anyone's cultural norms. It never did.

groggette

@PJDee Is it worth risking your life to go under anesthesia to get teeth pulled? Is it worth risking your life to eat something you've never had before and so don't know if you're allergic to it? Is it worth risking your life to ever leave your house to go to work or shopping or whatever?

And again, can we please not act like wanting "to look more like someone tells her she's supposed to" is the only, or main, reasoning by everyone who gets a reduction? It's not.

groggette

@MidoriSour "For me, it's such a joyful topic, because I love the way my reduction has positively changed my life--and that change has nothing to do with being attractive to society or fitting into anyone's cultural norms. It never did."

Yesssss!

groggette

@PJDee and for triple posting glory! I do agree with you that there were parts of this post that are very problematic. No argument from me there! But I feel like a lot of people are taking this one person's experience and putting it onto everyone who has had or wants a breast reduction. I also find that incredibly problematic.

Speirbhean

This was a really interesting article. I've always had a large chest, and when the hormones were in full flow a few years ago during my teens, I did resent them. People pointed them out, talked about them and even wanted to touch them. That stuff really didn't help me feel great about my body. However, as I've matured, I've grown to appreciate them, and that's why the negativity expressed by the author about her own formerly large breasts made me uncomfortable and sad for women who feel the same. I will always have to hunt down the right bra and deal with stares and some pain, but for me, surgery isn't appealing. As regards men treating me with respect, that's something I will always expect. And yet, I don't put a lot of emphasis on how men view me, because they're just other people, and I don't rely on their reactions as indications of how I should feel about myself. That irks me, that men's opinions always seem to be taken so seriously, just because they're in the habit of vocally asserting their thoughts, and then society accepts these as golden. I'm happy for women who undergo surgery and are content with the results, and I'm equally happy for women who are content with their large breasts :D

noodge

jeez, nobody is "normal", we all have baggage, life isn't fair, etc etc etc.
body image stuff is such a difficult road to navigate for any individual. if surgery helps you navigate it, rock on! if looking at yourself in the mirror to see all that is beautiful about you helps, that's cool! if you do all those things and you still don't feel better about your body, then you're not alone, and that's ok too! because shit happens. life isn't fair. and expecting life to be fair, expecting to be HAPPY ALL THE TIME seems to be what stirs up a lot of these issues.

Ludviga@twitter

Hmm...Although this is empowering for the writer, as it prevents her from having back pain and so on, I must admit, I did get a little depressed at her calling a C-cup "normal". So, what about those of us who are smaller than this? Are we less than "normal"?
This just bugs me, as I've always been picked on and criticized for being small-chested, "below average" and "less of a woman" (by other women, mind you!) but I'm terrified of going under the knife to get implants. I try to look at it this way: my "tiny" boobs are going to look awesome when I'm old!

Bittersweet

@Ludviga@twitter: As a fellow small-chested woman who has gone "under the knife" numerous times for medically necessary reasons, I'll never get implants. But if other small ladies want them, more power to them. "Normal" is a fairly loaded term either way, I think.

Lisa Ring

When I saw that there were >100 comments I thought "Oh, I guess everyone feels the same way I do!" But I'm kind of surprised that everyone seems to feel.... pretty much the opposite of how I do?

Not in their support of the author. I don't wanna sound like I'm bashing the author, because if she's happier now then GREAT. To each their own, etc etc, I'm happy for her. However, there were a LOT of things about this article that bothered me.

Mostly just how negative the author seems to feel about her boobs, pretty much constantly. It makes me wonder if maybe she ever considered therapy? I mean, back pain is one thing. But saying that her posture was bad because she felt like if she stood up straight, she'd be shoving her boobs up in everyone's grill? That sounds like more of a mental issue than a physical one.

I dunno. I'm sure I sound like a huge jerk and all "I love my DDs so why doesn't she love hers?" and I don't mean to. Again, I'm glad she's happy with her decision, and don't mean to judge her personally. I just couldn't help but comment that almost everything I read here sounds like it maybe if she felt better about her breasts in the first place, surgery might not have been necessary.

And I get that it's not as easy as that. There's no magic button to make her magically not hate her breasts anymore. Maybe it would take years of therapy. Maybe it would take something else. Maybe it would be completely impossible, and this was the only solution. I don't know. But just, I am the only one who was saddened by this?

Furthermore, I was completely shocked when I read "He suggested I go down to C cup, which I feared would still be too big, but I wasn’t going to argue with him." Like, yes he's a doctor and I'm sure it was the right decision in the end. But his suggestion caused fear, but "[she] wasn't going to argue with him?" Yikes.

OK. Feel free to hate. I'm sorry if I offended anyone (especially the author) because I don't mean to. I just couldn't not say something.

Teresa

It is great that some of you are happy/content with your large breasts. That probably means that yours are the right size for you. I have had all the typical problems - pain, skin infection, limited motion, etc. that come with large breasts and thought for a long time I had to learn to accept and love my shape.

When my mother got breast cancer, my first thought after her health wasn't fear for my health, it was "Hey, I could get a double mastectomy and no one would criticize me!" I think that was when it hit me it was time to see a doctor about reduction.

I am waiting until my teen daughter is older so hopefully she will be able to understand my decision and not impact her feelings toward her body, but I plan to have surgery soon.

Golda Poretsky@facebook

As a fat activist, this post makes me incredibly sad. The only real norm is body diversity. The tragedy of this post is that this writer got sold on how her breasts were the problem and not societal pressure to conform. Rather than decide that her body was beautiful and that she and her body were not the problem, she spent time and money and literally risked death (all surgeries have that risk) to change herself to fit in.

Breasts, like fatness, get blamed for a lot. But breasts, like fatness, are often not the problem. If we could view our bodies as part of ourselves, as a continuum rather than a collection of parts (some parts that we see as more problematic than others) we would do a lot to heal the stigma of having a "non-normal" body.

pk
pk

I would like to echo the sentiments of the commenters who said this article made them feel sad. I am a 32G. I have come to terms with it by shopping at a high class bra store with a woman who personally fits me every time I shop there. (Coeur in Philadelphia) Also I avoid clothing stores that don't make clothing that fit busty girls (I'm looking at you, H&M). I think a lot of our self-loathing can be diminished if clothing manufacturers would just make clothes that fit us.

All you people who say you're DD, you're probably bigger than that but have been squeezing into DD's because that's as big as some bras go. Victoria's Secret employees told me for years I was DD, I think they are trained to squeeze you in that size because they don't make their bras any larger! F*CK them and their conspiracy against big boobed girls!

oh yeah and I agree that drawing SUCKS - are you TRYING to make women feel bad about their bodies???! I thought this was supposed to be a blog for women, that is just hurtful.

itgetsbetter

Like so many others I finally created an account just to post on this article. I just had this surgery last week and am in the midst of the very painful recovery phase. No amount of self consciousness or body issues could have gotten me into the operating room to face all the fears I had of needles, pain, etc. However, even while in pain I am so happy about my decision. I think the point that keeps coming up is not how big your boobs are, but how proportional they are to the rest of your body. I am very short and very small everywhere else. My boobs were much bigger than my head. No matter how many different kinds of bras I tried (some specially fitted for me) my back and shoulders still killed me and it just kept getting worse. Even while wearing 3 bras, I couldn't run without them hitting me in the face or making my skin irritated from the friction so it was difficult to exercise. Of course this was true for years, as was, admittedly, frustration and shame about every time I had to buy a bridesmaid's dress for a friends wedding and order a dress about eight sizes larger than the rest of my proportions dictated so my chest could fit into it, only to have to take it to alterations and have it taken in A FOOT and hem it sometimes two feet just to have a dress that fit me. OF course that hurt, of course I cried over the cruel comments from jokes about them or the leering men, but that happened much less often than the physical pain I experienced every single day. The final straw for me was my family's history of breast cancer and a scare I had this winter break. The size of my breasts made it difficult to detect lumps early and a mammogram for breasts of that size is difficult to adequately assess. So I went under for my health and I can't wait to be through the pain and enroll in a yoga class where I won't have to sit out half the poses because my breasts are -literally- suffocating me.

MidoriSour

@pepgal Good luck on your recovery! Pro tip: Your nipples are no longer where you think they are. Seems obvious, right? But once you start wearing all your new halter tops, etc, you may, um, accidentally show off more than you intended.

bexia

The idea that only a certain size and shape of breast is attractive is really upsetting, and it's bullshit. I have very large, natural boobs on a small frame, and if people stare at my boobs (and I never go the cleavage in your face route), that's their problem, not mine. It has nothing to do with who I am. And they have atrociously bad manners.

There's nothing a good quality, professionally fitted bra can't do and with a little shopping savvy and an occasional visit to the alterations guy, there's no clothes I can't find.

groggette

@bexia FYI, my reduction cost me $50 (granted, that was with awesome insurance). Getting well fitting, good quality bras and paying for alterations? Way more than $50, per year.
And there is plenty a good quality, professionally fitted bra can't do. It can't take away all the pain and it doesn't solve anything if you don't want large breasts.

im
im

@bexia the last part of your comment upsets me, as do those comments on this thread like it. does it assume that when i had very large breasts that caused me a great deal of pain, i must have been going to the wal-mart leftover sale to find my bras, and going to sample sales with petite, ill-fitting clothes to find all my outfits?

i was not.

i had bras, tons (TONS!) of them, that were properly fitted. they were expensive, and even the best of them did not make the neck and back pain go away (especially not after continuous wear). i shopped often, had properly fitted clothes, visited the alterations place often. i consider myself very extremely "savvy" when it comes to shopping, and i dress very well.

i don't like the implications here that women who had a reduction were somehow not realistically looking into all of their options, as if we willy-nilly went under the knife after simply giving up without years of contemplation, looking into alternatives, making emotional adjustments, assessing our self-esteem, et cetera. sorry, but bras can't fix everything.

to everyone who opted to keep their large breasts: i'm glad you have not experienced years of pain from your breasts, but many of us did.

free surgery to make physical pain go away is what doctors, and insurance, are for.

Sharada Prasad Mohanty

While some are unlucky in the boobs department, others are too blessed that they need help to get rid of some of that blessed-ness.
http://funnyandspicy.com/carol-ortiz-has-gigantic-breastsdesperate-for-reduction-surgery

21403258@twitter

as a 5'3" girl with 32 DDDs, i can't tell you how much i long for the day when i can whittle these babies down to a C. my torso is pretty much entirely boob. though ill-fitting clothes bother me, it's really the physical pain that i can't wait to be rid of (i don't know about any of you other large breasted ladies out there but i have constant breast pain/tenderness--even hugs hurt). i wonder if the surgery has advanced since you had it or does it still require the anchor-like scar?

Ksquared

@21403258@twitter I had the surgery in 2005, and my scar is called the "lollipop", doesn't have the curve underneath like the anchor scar. However the very same surgeon did a reduction on my friend (I referred her) and she got the anchor scar. I guess it depends on the individual which procedure they choose to do.

21403258@twitter

also, i know a woman who had to have the surgery twice because her first plastic surgeon didn't reduce them enough. he didn't understand why she would want smaller breasts--so very professional of him. it's really unfortunate, because she, like me, suffered from serious back and breast pain.

DDDawn

So I've read the article, I've read the comments, and this is what I have to say. Just about everyone on here has had breast size issues at some point in the past.
Some learned to cope through years of dealing with it and later coming to the realization that they are part of who you are. Others chose the surgical route, due to back and neck pain, being self-conscious, and/or because of society's mentality about the larger breasts.
The point is, it's your choice. Trying to make someone feel bad about their decision isn't going to help them any, if anything it's going to make them even more self-conscious. I would think that those who have at some point felt awkward about themselves would be a little kinder to those who have the same problem.
As for myself, I'm a DDD with no insurance, and if I could I would get a breast reduction. My back is killing me, as well as my neck. I'm not self conscious at all about them, simply because I came to terms with them ages ago. I breast fed, men appreciated them, I didn't have an issue.
The only issue (so far as feeling self-conscious) I have is the stretch marks on them, but if I want to go that route, I'd also have a tummy tuck, and quite frankly those slight flaws, to me, aren't worth the pain. The back and neck pain are.

Sunny Marie@twitter

I had a reduction 3 years ago with I was 22, going from a DDD to a C. I still maintain that it's the best thing I ever did. I have 6 friends who've had the surgery since I did, and they all say the same thing.

I was never one of those girls that longed for big boobs. I went from a nearly A in 8th grade, to a DDD in the summer before 9th. Before I had surgery, my life was a blur of neck, back and shoulder pain. I have scoliosis that the doctors feel was brought on by my developing so fast at the same time I was shooting up in height. I should be 3 inches taller than I am (I would have been 6'1"). My friends and boyfriend didn't get it. They couldn't comprehend why I'd want to take away what so many women desire. They didn't get the emotional pain either, feeling like the boobs were all people saw, and the taunts of "slut" and "whore" even when wearing a high-necked oversized T-shirt were crushing.

I think I got lucky on the recovery front though. After the first week, aside from a little tenderness, I was pretty much back to normal.

Yes, I have the anchor scars, but I love them. I'm very honest with the men I've dated since, and I don't feel ashamed of them in any way. And at this point you'd only notice them with close inspection, anyway. :)

P.S. For those of you who haven't had the surgery but are thinking of it or are even in the planning stages: eat pineapple. Besides being yummy, it's insanely awesome at lessening bruising and swelling. I practically free-based the stuff in the weeks leading up to my surgery, and I came out of the whole experience with almost no swelling and no bruising at all (and I usually bruise like a peach).

And for the small-chested woman. I know that you get picked on for having small boobs, but seriously, so many women with larger breasts envy you. I know I still do, even with a C cup. I'd love to be an A.

pufflehuffityhuff

This was fascinating, thanks Virginia. I'm glad the op worked out for you.

I'm 5'3" with UK 32G boobs and some decent hips to go with them. I really, really like the pair these days. I hated it when I developed at 12 or 13 and got creepy attention - that shit at least stopped me from being needy for male attention, no matter how sleazy - later in life.

It's true that the wider world sees big breasts as public property, especially if you're petite in other areas. Women are just as bad at staring as men, even some of my best friends and long-time colleagues! But yes, large ones are mesmerising, I've found myself checking other ladies out.

I'm one of those strange creatures who doesn't lose boobage when I lose weight, so these are here to stay. That makes the thought of pregnancy etc particularly terrifying - WHAT IF THEY NEVER GO BACK DOWN? WHAT IF THEY *FALL* DOWN?! So, depending how that all goes, I see a reduction/lift in my future.

We should all love ourselves just the way we are, but that's much easier to do with positive reinforcement from the outside world: in childhood, from parents, as a teenager from peers and the media, as an adult from friends, partners, everywhere really. If you're used to being put down, it's gotta be hard to develop defences against that - my reaction would be to sink into depression under the onslaught of cruel remarks.

One of my best friends has a similar size chest to me, but differently shaped. It broke my heart when we were on holiday recently and she quietly said that she wished hers were more like mine. She doesn't *feel* young, gorgeous or normal because the world thinks that only the boob on the right in the drawing is acceptable. This is sad. Sometimes being sliced open and remade might be the only way to find peace with yourself. I haven't got to this yet, but I feel like I could, one day.

On the other hand, a friend of mine had a boob job, and she still isn't happy - she generally hides them away and lies about them. Wouldn't it be easier if we were just all made the same...?

Oh, and one last thing - lifting weights and swimming are great for boobs!

/epic

julie lauren

@PJDee I kindof took a strange almost offense to that, too. like i realize the author isn't saying it's okay to assume busty women are slutty, but...

Dust. Wind. Bun.@twitter

As a US 34G, I don't think I'd get a reduction as I'm not in pain from them (as far as I can tell, having some chronic pain anyway), but I'd love to get a lift as I'm 29 and my nipples are past my elbows and it's uncomfortable to have them constantly laying on my stomach unless I get out the industrial strength model bra. Probably never will though as I'd feel guilty for spending money on it.

Also, I never knew that being a C by 12 was considered unusual/early development? I hit C by 12 or 13 and stayed there until college (although looking back I was probably just cramming myself into the bras I already had...) and never thought of this as being odd at all. I suppose maybe because my high school friends were all busty and big girls and in comparison, our guy friends considered me the head of the IBTC, which seriously, what.

Anyway, I felt bad looking at the diagram, but I feel good about this post happening, with people actually talking about this stuff together. Yay for breastical conversation.

cmas

Late to the post, but this site is seriously helpful for finding out what normal breasts look like:

007b.com/breast_gallery.php

Because, there is no "normal." I think every girl should be shown this, to help them see that the "normal" Hollywood-approved breast is fiction. Every shape, size, form, color, nipple size, nipple color- There is SO much more out there than that damn drawing that doctor made.

lizlemon

To anyone who is considering a breast reduction, I highly recommend visiting http://www.breasthealthonline.org/ . It has a great wealth of information, forums to discuss with fellow patients, and the option for picture access to see before/after pictures!

Also, thanks Virginia for your story!

sef
sef

I had my breast reduction nine years ago (at the age of 28), and the only regret I had was not doing it sooner. I really lucked out on having a phenomenal doctor; I felt no pain at all on waking from the surgery and never took any of the Vicodin they sent me home with. (The most "pain" I felt was akin to the stiffness and soreness you feel after a first workout when you've had some time away from the gym.) I was an F-cup before and went down to a small D. My doctor took two pounds off of EACH BREAST. The almost daily tension headaches I had before my surgery went away after the surgery. It was a relief not having neck pain and the resulting tension headaches as a regular part of my life.

I was riding a bike within two weeks of my surgery and went back to running four weeks after my surgery. I used to wear three athletic bras at once (which often led to me getting painful "hot spots" on my skin when one of the three would shift around) to be able to run. Now I wear one.

Ladies, if you are considering this surgery at all, just know that I know three other women who also have had breast reductions. Not one of us wishes we hadn't done it.

Toleda

I had a reduction 6 years ago at 50 and have no regrets. I had an excellent surgeon (someone who's the go-to for reconstructions around here), who did it with an overnight stay. Like a previous poster, I didn't take any of the Vicodin I was sent home with. Frankly, I did (and still do) have some body issues, but I didn't ask to have them taken down to the very small size that the anorexic teen within would have liked. I couldn't get insurance coverage, but was ok w/ paying the 10K out of pocket. My skin has poor elasticity and I've had some droop--the liklihood of which my surgeon discussed with me. I'm fine with it.

And though I was never that aware of it, apparently lots of people did consider my cleavage to be their eye level or so say friends of mine. My scars aren't bad and though they're somewhat noticable I don't care. I know have proportions that I find more pleasing. I'm 5'7" and a size 2 and I'm a lot better as a 32D than I was in variously ill-fitted 36DD bras.

Changing one's body to feel more comfortable isn't a pathological act. I didn't expect my life to change, and it didn't. I can be more physically active and buy OTC bras that fit. The end.

nonnie

Wow-- I have wanted to get a reduction for so long! I started reading this story and found myself saying, "Yes! Exactly!" to every point you made, Virginia. The disproportionate feeling, the way that big boobs make you look heavy when you're not, etc. Great story, thank you for sharing. I look forward to the day that I can afford the surgery. Someday!

Stef

Hello, my name is Stefani and I am thinking of having a breast reduction. I wear a 36DDD in most bras. My insurance will cover the reduction by says that I have to take out at least 325cc from each side. My fear is being too small! The doctor says that I'll probably be a C cup, which is fine with me but I also plan on losing more weight and don't want to lose any in my breast and then end up being a B or an A cup. I would much rather be a D cup so that way if I did lose any weight in my breast then it would take them down to a C cup. I'm 5'4 and wear a size 10/12 and weigh 175. Please let me know what you think I would do? Do you happen to remember how many cc's they took out from each breast when they did your reduction? Thanks!

geat

@Stef Did you already have your procedure? Can you contact me?

Stef

No I didn't get it yet because I was afraid that I would be too small if they took out as much as insurance required.

Catherine Dee@facebook

I am seriously looking into a reduction (my breasts look like the before picture on the diagram your doctor drew) once I am for-sure, for-sure done having kids (breastfed my daughter for almost 2 years and if I'm able to have a second child - that'll require IVF which is why it's an IF - I plan on breastfeeding it too). My mom has mentioned me getting a reduction a few times too (she also have video tape footage of me breastfeeding my newborn and one of my boobs was twice the size of her head).

jgirl

I totally related to every breast issue in your story! I used to obsess over getting a reduction, but never followed through because I'm not big enough for doctors to be convinced it's a real problem or that insurance will cover it. I'm a 38D, but am short, rather thin, and I'm really self-conscious about them. People make comments, and I have difficulties with clothes, exercising, and posture. But most people who get the surgery are at least a DD. Also, I find that they are generally admired by people, but they don't know how frustrating they can be, or any of that other stuff. Should I just deal?

Klarebear21

Hi, I actually had my breast reduction when I was 12 years old. I was about a size F and I was reduced to size C due to back problems and emotional problems. I am now 21 years old and since then they have grown back to DDD_F. Its worse than ever! I get sexually harrased at my job constantly by dirty old men and women who are "offended" by my "voluptuousness". I dont know how much more I can take. I want to have another breast reduction but there are several factors that are preventing me from having it done. So I'm asking for answers and advise. Will my insurance cover a second breat reduction? (especially considering I have proof that it is me physically, emotionally, and my job as a I have proof complaint) Is there anyway I can be able to recover quickly from a surgery so that I may return to work within 4 days, if not what could be my other options?

Millaboom

I just came across this whilst googling online. I'm a C cup already, I just hate the shape of my breasts, much like the original picture showed in the post from the surgeon, I long for perkier more shapely breasts. I'm only 21, I just lost a lot of weight during puberty, and now am happy with a small body, but seriously unhappy and ashamed of the leftover stretchmark scarred chest. I'm wondering if they can do the surgery without making a drastic change in size but more so in shape? If that makes sense? I'm a confident person, but would give anything to look at my breasts and feel comfortable.

Samy

Having a breast reduction changed my life. It was one of the most difficult but rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. I felt so restrained by my breasts and limited in not only what I could wear but also what I could do. Yet even with all the trials and tribulations of having a big chest, I was scared to have surgery and had no idea what doctor I could trust. Dr. Joel Studin in New York performed my surgery three years ago and helped me go from a size H to a full C. I’m a brand new person with new interests and outlook on life. The support of my doctor was pivotal to my recovery too. (His site is: http://webplastics.com/procedure/breasts/breast-lift/ )

archimedese

Just wanted to thank you for an inspiring story. I also have the same problems as you. I am by no means skinny (though I used to be) but I'm not fat either. HOwever since I'm short/petite, my oversized breasts always looked out of proportion. I am an F or FF (Australian) and on a 5'2" frame, I struggle to find clothes to fit me. I wear S for bottoms and my chest/ribcage is about 32" so I'm really not a very big person but yet I always project this sense of hugeness in all pictures compared with someone who weighs more than me and is bigger than me. And then there is the back pain...

I'm going for my reduction surgery next week. I've thought about it for years and finally took the plunge. I'm dreadfully scared of the pain, the scarring, the things that could go wrong but at the same time I'm looking forward to a "new" body, being able to do all the exercise I want (running), being able to lie on my stomach without crushing something, being able to fit into size 8-10 clothes, being able to go to the gym and do the stuff I like and best of all, reduced back pain, headaches and migraine!

Thank you for your detailed article. I am going from a FF/F to full C. I don't think I want a D though I was thinking about it... Reading all these surgery stories make me smile that I'm doing the right step.

By the way, women who say that they get oggled for having bigger boobs - never happened with me. I just looked overweight so I hope that I will look more in proportion!

Shivelli

Hi, I would appreciate it if you took the time to read this-
I am a teenager who is considering a breast reduction. As you can imagine, being fifteen and having to wear a size G cup is hard to live with. I am asking you, as someone with expirience, whether or not it would be a good idea to seriously consider this procedure at my age or in a few years.
Trying to blossom in high school is hard with huge boobs- and I'm not being dramatic. My boobs make me shy, sports are hard to endure, as even when wearing a sports bra I cannot run or jump without pain and difficulty. Don't get me started on clothes- swimsuits are hell! It is to the point where I can't even sleep on my stomach.
Thoughts?
My major turn- offs about the procedure would be mostly the pain and cost of the whole thing?

pama

Don't get me started on clothes- swimsuits are hell! It is to the point where I can't even sleep on my stomach.obat kolesterol alami

sarahcj

This article was great to read (reading the comments however was a bit of a mistake).

Anyway since i was twelve i had D breasts and over the years i've grown to size 12F at 19.
I've never been much of a looker, and i was treated badly a lot during my childhood and teenage years. I don't resent my breasts, in fact, i love them (they're part of me), but im tired of them being the only asset on me that i need to worship and praise. There is more to me than my breasts. All they are is a part of my body nature decided to give me. My quality of life is more important that my breasts. (and if you think otherwise, maybe you are more affected by society than you care to admit)
I'm begginning to get medical problems from the weight of my breasts and i have to say, if another area started causing me medical problems, i would probably get surgery for that. So why not this?

I do have to say, my initial biggest worry for breast reduction surgery is that i will probably regret changing my body.(especially if my boobs come out looking weird).The part you said about them not looking funny or belonging on your body makes me nervous.. i feel like that is something i would feel and probably get pretty distressed over. I am the kind of person who would rather regret something she was born with than regret a decision she chose to make.
Now for me i have to decide whether the medical problems are worth that risk.
Part of this attitude i believe is being surrounded for most of my life by people with either small breasts, or large breasts from being overweight, (not actually having that amount of breast tissue, and so not havin. Because of this, i was always made to feel like i should be appreciative and feel lucky of the painful, hanging sacks on my chest. The only reason i can think anyone would believe that is because they see it as more attractive, so they have their own problems to deal with in that case...
They were also the only part of my body i was proud of when i was younger and these days i feel they are my only asset that gets me attention anymore but i dont think that is a good enough (or healthy) reason.
I have fond feelings for my breasts, even though i dislike them as well. It's the same with my tummy. Even though i know its a bit too big and untoned i still feel like its a part of me and resting my hands on it feels comfortable and right. I feel the same way about my boobs when im laying down in bed or something but the rest of the pain i endure through the day.. i dont know if its worth it.

Anyway, lately ive realised they are ruining my life. I've always had neck problems and i've come to notice its from my boobs. Like you said, I am so embarrassed by them i hunch down to hide them or people seem to think im showing off. I tried lifting them up today and i could actually sit up straight!
My boyfriend keeps making sad faces about it when ever i mention it and its annoying, since its my health, but i dont care anymore. I'd rather not have the big boobs he wants than have a hunchback that he'll find unattractive anyway.
Its quite sad about men treating women differently based on their breast size. i had that to think about already when my boyfriend expressed his dissapointment over me getting a reduction even though he knew they pained me a lot.
Overall part of me feels so horrible the way that women have to cater their bodies to things like bra's and clothes because they dont cater to us like they should, but being aware of that isn't changing the fact that they don't.
I'd look at beautiful clothes and feel so horrible because trying them on wasnt even an option. I knew if it didnt look like i could carry two heads in it, i couldnt wear it. I didn't want to live my life being ugly and walking around in tents because i was "supposed" to feel beautiful with what i had.

To people who are getting upset over the "Almost overnight guys began treating me like a pretty girl instead of an easy girl. When they would talk to me, they would approach me like I was a normal person. They took me seriously." comment:
This is not the writers fault. she is talking about what happened and how she noticed changes in her life.
If this comment really bothers you, then it's clear you have experienced this as well. You don't like it being pointed out because you made yourself ignorant of it happening so you were more comfortable around people. But this doesn't mean it doesnt happen.Just because the writer pointed out it doesnt happen to her anymore, doesnt mean she's condoning it or something?

"Self-acceptance, confidence, and bras that fit right" are not going to save my back, which has actually been WORSE after i got properly fitted for bra's.

Clearly everyone who is getting offended over the "breasts being "too big"" have never felt their own breasts are too big and dont understand, or sat on their bed and cried for hours because NONE of their clothes fit them at all, or without their breasts slopping out everywhere and making them look like an absolute tart. This is not "too big" as comparison to cute pretty girls with little chests, this is too big as in, you would know if you had a limb that was"too big" and impeded your wholelife.
By saying its a vanity thing and to just deal with it, you are enforcing the idea that breasts are all the same and we all need to be grateful to what we've got. well NO, breasts are not all the same, and someone with an A cup has no idea how someone with breasts the size of another persons head could possibly feel.
I shouldn't have bothered reading the comments where most people seem to think this is just a self conscious thing we need to "get over", and completely ignore the possibility of medical problems.

Overall, maybe it IS societies fault we think badly of our breasts. (Though i'll keep stressing the whole "medical problems" issue.)
Maybe it's societies fault so many people have enormous breasts in the first place? (hormones in chicken anyone? what we're eating maybe? thats food for thought, no pun intended)
Maybe it is wrong for me to want one kind of happiness for my body when i already have the option to mentally toil for another kind of happiness in acceptance (which clearly hasnt worked for me for years, nor many others)

All i really know, is that i cant wait for the day that i actually feel like a beautiful girl walking down the street, the day i can actually stand up straight, can go for runs and feel light and bouncy without tearing pains in my chest, and can feel like i might actually blend in for once, and not be some hulking, hunchbacked figured attatched to a pair of enormous floating breasts.
Maybe i won't have to sit at home slowly gaining weight because i can't exercise, never going out because i'm ashamed, gradually becoming hunch backed with neck problems and dealing with all these problems and more because some women think they understand my circumstances without knowing me and have the right to tell me what i should be happy for.

SuZQ10

@sarahcj Ji there. My heart went out to you in your struggle. Don't listen to those other women who are speaking out against it. Their stories don't really have anything to do with the women seeking support on this thread.

From a health point of view - I can tell you some things here from my experience.
I went from a B-cup to a DD-cup in the matter of 3 months in high school. It basically messed alot of things up in my life.

They were (and are) SO heavy, very big. Stretch marks everywhere!! I have never had children and I swear I have more stretch marks than the average mother!

I was teased, felt very self -conscience, and began to hunch to try to mask them. I was 17 at the time. I am now 41 and I am telling you - 20+ years of hunching from my heavy, painful, uncomfortable breasts has had a very serious outcome.

Chronic headaches, neck pain and shoulder pain. Muscle shortening around my neck and upper back and across the tops of my shoulder. Mid back weakness and stretched out muscles from all the hunching which caused severe muscle spams. The front of my chest = all the muscles are very shortened and painful and tight.

I finally got some phyio therpy and after almost 2 years have been able to stand up mostly straight and range of motion has been mostly restored to my neck. But I still have scar tissue and some permanent muscle shortening across my shoulder tops. (Even with IMS needling treatment - SO painful)

All that to say... I am FINALLY taking steps to get the reduction surgery at age 41. I wished I could have done it 20 years ago!!! But better late than never. So please please please do not spend the next 20 years hunching and hiding like I did. I totally understand doing that - I did it... I have had such a hard time with my breasts! not only are they large (DD) but very dense and Heavy! I hated trying to stand up straight as they would jut out and look even more huge!

Don't end up like me with chronic neck, back and shoulder pain. It's very real. If I would have known that having a breast reduction surgery would have set the path straight all those years ago - I would have done it! I really would have!

After the surgery they will finally be a more manageable size but I will always have a certain amount of neck pain, muscle shortening & issues as it went on way too long.

Don't let any women out there influence you by their lack of empathy. They simply don't understand. If they are fine with their large heavy breasts and have never had pain or discomfort? Good for them! Honestly! Glad there are women who have had that benefit.

So - they can stop discouraging women on this thread then and join the: "I love my big, heavy boobs! Never had an issue!" - thread.

LOL

Anyway sweetie, you go and consult a trusted person in your life that understands all of this and get yourself a consultation with a doctor. Do the research. Make sure your decision comes from a place of balance and information.

Enjoy the results (both psychological and physical!)
God Bless you!
:-)

psugirl444

Also just joined to comment! I'm so glad you posted this--I'm 23 and a F cup. I was flat until 8th grade (when I busted out to a DDD) and then (due to gaining weight) was all the way up to an H. I lost weight and went back to an F but can't seem to go anywhere from here! I like to run four or five days a week but can't do it unless I wear two bras (one underwire and one sport). I've finally decided (now that I have health insurance) to go see a surgeon. I'm concerned about pregnancy in the future but can't handle the back pain, shoulder pain and dips that exist for any longer.

Staying.Alive

Hey.
This article has changed my life - not to sound dramatic or anything.
One, you're a superb writer, my friend. It's a lot easier to take one's word for something when they're eloquently spoken.
Two, you have provided me with something I am too shy to ask about. I'm not an extremely heavily chested girl, but I have other issues. I wear these 'prothestics' (as I fondly call them for lack of a better title) that balance out my breasts as one is, unfortunately, quite a bit smaller than the other. I've been told one is a F-cup (which, after doing my own research, does not seem to be the case. It's more of an E-cup?) and the other is an D. I have to have super expensive bras and expensive fittings that make me guilty of my mother who pays for all this. (I'm fifteen, fyi).
I am extremely self-conscious of this; and no thanks to joking boys who accidently say the wrong things while hitting on me. You can't really tell my size difference until the bra is off - and it is my constant and undying fear that it will be this abnormality that will be the bane of a relationship on day.
I contemplated surgery (not out aloud, of course) but I didn't know what to do!
It was either go through all that so ANYONE could love me, or not and go through trial and error instead to find someone who didn't care. I'm very afraid of being rejected, but I think this article sorted me out.

Thank you so much for providing an experience and take on something I never thought I would find anywhere else.

Amelia Palmer@facebook

Factor Quema Grasa
¿Los elementos de pérdida de peso del Dr. Carles dar su propio bombo o fallarán miserablemente ser una estafa a través de la puerta trasera ? La divulgación de información de espera en la base de !

Amelia Palmer@facebook

Factor Quema Grasa
¿Los elementos de pérdida de peso del Dr. Carles dar su propio bombo o fallarán miserablemente ser una estafa a través de la puerta trasera ? La divulgación de información de espera en la base de !

Jo MacFadyen@facebook

I am so happy I have found this blog! I'm currently trying to get down to the right bmi to get this done and I've been feeling excited but also anxious about the whole thing! Reading this has just made me feel a whole lot better! Thank you so much!

Rachelle Lingafelter@facebook

I just had breast reduction on December 10th 2013. After having five children went from being a DD cups to a DDD/F.I no longer have back pain, my posture is much better, my migraines have ceased, and I have been able to lose more weight do to my increased range of motion and such. I am now a d-cup, it was the best decision I have ever made not just for myself but for my entire family. My kids have a more active mother, and my self esteem has skyrocketed. I have a support group that I started in facebook. Just search for breast reduction support and look us up. Were there for advice, support, and also for the humor aside being blessed with a huge chest.this is for both pre surgery patients, people who are undecided it would like to talk to other people who have had it, and post surgical.

Shu-Chip Tho@facebook

I requests to spend a little calculate scholarship much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this information for my mission. 338a

Sandhya

nice to finally get over the initial shock and ahh and to heal

Sara Neumann@facebook

I just wanted the author to know that I really appreciate this write up. I'm 28, with a 34J bust size, I'm 5'10" and 175lbs. So you can imagine that my bust is completely out of proportion with my body. I was a D-cup over night in 8th grade, an E-cup by the end of high school, and my current size by the end of college. And finally, after a year of fighting insurance, which still will not pay for it because my plan has it specifically written out, I'm getting my reduction at the end of the month. I'm excited, thrilled, terrified and completely scatter-brained. So reading stories like this are helping me prepare for this, and help me understand the emotional side after my breasts are reduced to a 34C (goal). I so look forward to being able to get back into physical therapy after the surgery to help heal the muscular and postural damage that I have. I can't wait to know what it feels like to not have constant aches and burning in my back muscles. It's like it's some kind of unicorn in my life. A pain-free life. So thank you for writing this, it's one of the best written testimonials I've read.

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