This review might not give you the information you are looking for. I am writing as a catharsis. A way to come to terms with what has happened to my body so I can move on. I bought my first bra in 3rd grade and it was a B cup. There were no training bras for me. Just a sudden shocking, uncomfortable, yet attention getting mass of tissue that immediately set the precedent for the relationship I would have with my breasts for the next 24 years.
I am 33 years old, and I have always had a love-hate relationship with my large breasts. When I entered high school I was 5'9" weighed 109lbs and had a DDD size breast. When I left high school I weighed 146lbs and had an F sized breast. My weight did have some slight impact on my breast size, but that was negligible considering that at 109lbs my breasts were made of fibrous breast tissue that was not going anywhere regardless of my size, and not fatty tissue. Some people lose and gain cup sizes easily with their weight. This indicates that their breasts are made up of more fatty tissue. Other people, like myself, are capable of gaining or losing 50+lbs without having the impact of a single cup size on their breasts. If I was ultra-thin, I had large breasts. If I was fat, I had large breasts. It just didn't make a difference. It is hereditary: my mother also had a breast reduction when she was 18 years old. She weighed less than 100lbs, was 5'3", and had to have bras custom made for her chest. I never stood a chance!
My breasts have been a burden physically and emotionally my whole life. And yet somehow, they became part of my identity, and certainly part of my self image. I was the girl with big breasts. I was the girl with the huge rack. I hated them, and I learned to love them. I joked about them constantly. I couldn't hide them, that was apparent, so I showcased them. I would grumble and complain when I couldn't buy a dress that fit my top half AND my bottom half, or when I had to buy a disgusting swimsuit that would cover and support the girls, or buying anything with BUTTONS. Not-a-chance. I learned to shop at plus size stores for anything that I needed to cover the top of me...while I looked whistfully at all the cute clothes in the juniors section that I wanted to be wearing. Something as simple as cute screen print tees from American Eagle that there's no way in hell I can stretch over my chest seemed impossible. They would never be mine unless I had an operation to make my boobs smaller.
I waited. I wanted to be done having children before I had the surgery. I wanted to be able to breastfeed my babies, and there was no guarantee that if I had the surgery I would be able to. I figured, "Well, I've waited this long...a few more years won't kill me." I had my babies, I breastfed them, and over the course of those 4 years, something was happening. My breasts were getting LARGER. I had 2 boys, 4 years apart, and with each pregnancy my breasts grew to ridiculous proportions while breastfeeding (H & I cup) and when breastfeeding was done, I was a cup larger than I started the pregnancy with.
So at 30 years old I had a G-GG sized breast to carry around, that I dutifully stuffed into an F sized bra because I couldn't bear to buy a larger size. Spillage be damned! Something else had also started happening while I was waiting to be done with babies: my back and neck started hurting...a lot. It hurt to hold my babies while standing. It hurt to carry things. It hurt to work at the kitchen counter. It hurt to mop. I had permanent red grooves in my shoulders. My breasts had taken the turn from an annoying inconvenience to a wearisome painful burden. I figured it was time to make the date. I went to my family doctor. I said, "Let's do that breast reduction." She said I had to wait 1 year AFTER I FINISHED breast feeding. Ugh! What? Because they wanted to see what my breast were like after they returned to normal. "My breasts aren't normal!" I told them. "They're enormous whether I'm breastfeeding or not. Waiting an extra year is not going to make my breasts any smaller!" My opinion was briefly reflected on, then discarded. I would wait. Now, having the reduction hadn't seemed that urgent before, but since I had decided to go ahead and have it done, I wanted it done immediately! I couldn't stand to wait. But I did.
One year post breastfeeding I returned. "How bout that breast reduciton, now?" My doctor was very enthusiastic. "Yes! We'll get this ball rolling and you will have no problems getting that surgery. You clearly need the reduction. You are meeting all the criteria. But to be on the safe side, lets send you to physical therapy first just to make sure we have all the Is dotted and the Ts crossed." So I went to physical therapy. They were all like, "Well, we can give you some stretches and do the electro massage on your back, but we can't make your breasts smaller." We agreed to do the PT simply to add it to the list. When PT was completed and, surprise, surprise, my breasts were indeed, no smaller, and I still had significant back, shoulder, neck pain, I was finally put in for a referal for a reduction! Wahoo!
Two weeks later I received the approval from my insurance company to meet with a plastic surgeon of their choosing for a consultation. I called the surgeon. I could not get in for a consultation for 3 months. Eff me! Seriously? Fine. I took the appointment. I finally see the plastic surgeon and was pleased with the appointment. She seemed nice, thorough, and efficient. She took pics of my girls, asked me many questions about my breast history and then sent me on my way. She said we'd hear from the insurance within a couple weeks and they'd schedule out from that.
So I waited to hear from the insurance. And one day about a week later I received a fat envelope in the mail which I immediately tore into. I was DECLINED. What? How is that even possible? They saw the pictures, so what's the problem? It said I could send an appeal, so I contacted my plastic surgeon and she sent the appeal in on my behalf. I waited for a response. It came. I was DENIED again. Impossible. How could that be? My chest was enormous. It caused me physical problems. How could they begin to deny me? Their reason: It was cosmetic in my case because my BMI was above 27, and breasts of that size were consistent with someone who was my weight. Well F U, insurance!
Here's the rub: When I was thin, really, really thin, I had DDD sized breasts that they wouldn't have hesitated to do the surgery on. But I wanted to breastfeed my babies and with each child I gained a cup size and some weight that I couldn't seem to shake. So essentially, it was the Catch 22. I waited to have the surgery so I could breastfeed, but I gained weight in the process. The weight I gained was the reason the insurance company was refusing me. And let's be clear that while I'm overweight, I am not enormous. I am 5'9" and weigh 192lbs. It's not like they were dealing with Jabba the Hut wanting a breast reduction.
So I was crushed. I didn't know what to do. I had been declined 2x and as far as the insurance went that was case closed. I went back to the doctor later that year because of back pain (a different doctor because we're military) and the doctor was like, "Hey, maybe if you had a breast reduction your back wouldn't hurt so bad?" Ya think? I told him I had been denied 2x and he was pretty disgusted and shocked. He sent me for x-rays of my back and gave me some ibuprofen for back/shoulder pain. Yeah. Thanks. I never heard from that doctor again, but after another year I went in to see the doctor for, yep, you guessed it, back/shoulder pain and was greeted by another brand new doctor. She said, "If you had a breast reduction you could probably get rid of that constant pain." *SIGH* Yes, but I've been declined 2x already. Shock & disgust.
It seems I'm blessed with the world's most sympathetic doctors that want me to have a reduction and the most cruel and unsympathetic insurance company. *BUT* Here's something new: it seems when I had my xrays the year before they showed that I was starting to get a permanent curve to my shoulders and neck due to the weight. Eureka! We can resubmit to the insurance company now. But don't think I wasn't pissed that over a year had gone by with those xrays just sitting there showing I was starting to be PERMANTLY DISFIGURED that they didn't bother telling me about. So we start this process again.
I am approved for consultation. The consultation with the same doctor is scheduled 3 months out. Consult comes. Pics are taken; new info is submitted to the insurance company. Waiting. I receive the call from the plastic surgeons office that I was APPROVED FOR BREAST REDUCTION! I actually screamed "Holy shit" at the poor woman on the phone. I had honestly believed they weren't going to go for it again, but they said yes. So now this was really going to happen!
I scheduled the surgery for 3 months out because it was holiday season and we were going to be going home one month, and my doctor was on vacation the next. That gave me a lot of time to think, get excited, then start to worry. What was I worried about? Well, it wasn't the surgery. I know some people are very scared of being put under and cut open and all that crap, but I'm not one of them. I don't care. Pain doesn't scare me and being under anesthetic doesn't scare me. I started to worry about the results. I was having this surgery to alleviate the pain & problems associated with having big breasts, but I still have some say in how I'm going to look, right? I mean, I should be allowed some customizing options, if it's all the same to the insurance company...right? This is where I started to worry. I mean, what if they wanted to make me a B cup? That sounded absolutely horrifying to me. I was a B cup when I was 9 years old. That is not me. I don't want that! I started to worry about my self image. I am a girl with big boobs. That is my identity, like it or not. The thought of having them strip me of that was really frightening. I decided I wanted to still be a girl with big boobs. Just normal sized big boobs. Like D or DD. That's not outrageous. And since I'm not a small person that would look completely acceptable for my body size. But was anyone going to understand that? That I wanted the insurance company to pay for me to have smaller big boobs? I was really, really worried about this. How do you make people that have never had this a part of their identity understand how important it is? So I started voicing my fears to my friends. They were unconditionally supportive of me. They agreed with me. They stated that I would look unusual and disproportionate with such a small chest and the surgeon would definitely agree to that. Also, the insurance company was stipulating that I have 500 grams taken from each breast. The widely accepted view from me and my friends was: up to 500 grams the surgeon worked for the insurance company and after 501 grams the surgeon worked for me and I should be able to make my own requests with how my body turns out. So that was the main concern for me. How small would they make me, and would they make me smaller than I wanted to be even if I said not to. My second concern was purely cosmetic.
After looking through a ton of before and after pics I noticed that some breasts came out beautiful, full and perky looking, others came out looking droopy and flat. Although the nipple was lifted they seemed "slaggy" to use a term another reduced friend coined. Unattractive. I did not want that.
But here's the pinch: Did I have any right to be concerned with cosmetic outcomes when I am having the procedure for medical reasons? I mean, technically, yes, of course I did. But would the plastic surgeon care? Would she look at me like I was some selfish shit who tricked the insurance company into paying for a reduction when I wanted to make sure they came out pretty and not too small? I felt like I was walking a really thin line. I know that I have the right to hope for the best, but did I have the right to want custom titties? Is it true that after the 500 grams it's up to me? Does the surgeon care? I would think that ultimately she would want the patient to be happy, right? Wouldn't she do her best to meet requests about shape & size? My friends said, "If you're concerned, make sure you talk to the doctor. Be as specific as possible. Let her know everything you worry about."
So I went for my pre-op appointment 1 week before. Surprise! My doctor is still on vacation so I am meeting with the PA. I think PAs are fantastic, but I wanted to meet with my surgeon. I mean the PA is not going to be the one re-sculpting my life. How can anything I say to this guy have any effect on what my surgeon does to my body? But I have no choice. I tell him everything. I ask him every question. I brought in print outs of what I wanted my breasts to look like and what I DIDN'T want them to look like. He said C cup or D cup. He said if they made me a DD that wouldn't be a very good reduction and I said NO. Uh Uh. Hell no. DD is like 5 cup sizes smaller than I am now and it would be a GREAT reduction. DD is where I want to be. D would have been ok too, but I say, aim small, miss small. Shoot for DD and if it's a little less no biggie. But if I say ok to C...well, I didn't want to go there. He alleviated all my fears and told me I would have 1/2 hour prior to the procedure to speak to the doc privately and re-iterate everything. So I was a nervous wreck the whole next week. I told my friends I didn't want to talk about it at all. I just wanted to ignore it. But I messaged a friend that had just had her reduction a couple months before. She was so happy with her reduction and was really excited for me. She sent me the link to her RealSelf review and I ohhhed and awwwed her after pics. That's exactly what I wanted! Her results were amazing...surely I had nothing to worry about. The morning of the procedure I go in and get all set up. I talked to the doctor. I said, "I WANT TO BE A DD WHEN THIS IS DONE." Now I know they can't guarantee anything, but they do this for a living and they have an idea of where things are going to end up. A little bigger is not going to hurt me; after all I'm about to have a bunch removed and anything is going to be better than pre-op breast size. A little smaller than DD, wouldn't be the end of the world, but still let's aim for DD!
I feel good going into the procedure. I said everything I needed to say. There is no miscommunication. I have done everything I can possibly do to get the outcome I want. I wake up after the procedure and I'm groggy and a bit discombobulated, but not sick or in pain or anything. I want them to let me go home so I can sleep, but they just keep waking me up and pissing me off.
Finally my husband says, "You know if you get up and go to the bathroom and show them you can walk, they'll let you go." OK. I'm going to do that. I stumble through hospital check out and make it to the car. I am parched. I desperately need something. A strawberry milkshake!! No, wait, what? I have a strawberry milkshake in my hand, which I apparently requested from my husband on the way home. I don't eat sweets, so this is a strange request. But it doesn't matter because something with the anethesia has screwed up my taste buds and nothing tastes right. It's not sweet tasting at all, but that's ok because i don't like sweets. Water tastes medicinal. Nothing tastes right, so I go to sleep.
The next 24 hours are pretty much a hazy pill induced fog. I wake up from time to time and glance down at my reduced chest and wonder and worry. I don't want to see it. It looks too small. I glance down the front of my compression bra briefly and am horrified by the non-existent cleavage. Something is not right. But I'm not going to look. I don't want to know if it's bad. I ignore mirrors and pretend like my chest doesn't exist. There is something wrong with one of my drains. On day 2 it should be producing more fluid. We call it in and they have me come in right away. They lay me back in the chair and my surgeon takes off my compression bra to get to the drain. I don't want to look, but I peek from my periphery. I don't know who I'm trying to fool by peeking at myself. It's not like I don't know I'm peeking. NO. My chest is flat. Don't look. Don't look. I do not want to see this. The surgeon must sense my distress because she says, "Don't worry. You're still really swollen. They're going to be a lot smaller than that." WHAT? NO. NIGHTMARE. PLEASE NO. She apparently thought my distress was because they were still too big...which seems impossible considering how small they looked in my quick cheat peek. I feel sick. I am silent the whole way home. I decide it's time to face the music.
Shower time. Time to bare all and see what's left. I go to take a shower and try to take my bra off without looking. Hang the drains around my neck on a swimsuit strap to keep them from hanging down painfully. First I look down. OH NO, THIS IS BAD. FLAT. NO BREASTS. WHAT HAPPENED. I feel sick, so sick. I take a deep breath and look in the mirror. NO NO NO NONONONONO. I am full out horror movie screaming in my head. WHAT THE FUCK. I have no breasts. I have no breasts. I think I'm going to be sick. My chest looks like a muscular man's chest. I have a tiny little dip between my breasts, and I am flat from my chest up to my nipple. There is no feminine underside to the breast. There is no round or teardrop shape to my breast. It is a flat block. A rectangle with slightly rounded edges and a perky little nipple stuck right in the middle. My breasts extend way too far out past my body into my armpit area. I look like I am wearing a super-constrictive sports bra that is see-through. That is exactly what I look like. I look like I have Arnold Swhartzenegger's Terminatornchest or The Rock's. This is too much. I am NOT a DD. I am not a C. I don't even think I can fill a B cup. I cry. And cry and cry and cry. No one is ever going to see this. It is disgusting and awful and nothing like what I wanted. I shower and put on that bra and go back to bed and cry some more. I am in mourning. I miss my beautiful big boobs. They were too big, and after i had my last son the nipples stretched and they were starting to sag, but I actually LIKED the way they looked. They were just too big. They were feminine and mine. I am depressed. Very, very depressed. I cry a lot.
I try to be objective when I shower and look at what's left of me. I try to convince myself that they will look better when they heal and maybe I won't be embarrassed forever. I won't speak to anyone on the phone. I only eat what I have to to not get sick when I take my medicine. I allow no visitors. I stay in bed and try to sleep everything away. But there is no rest because I'm actually dreaming about my disgusting flat chest and having to explain to people what happened. I wake up crying. A lot. I make sure I take my pain medicine because it makes me sleep. I have no physical pain. It feels like when you breastfeed and your breasts get so full of milk they ache. So i guess I might be abusing my prescription medicine, but I figure it's owed to me.
My days all slide together. My sleep schedule is abhorrent. I do not get out of bed unless I have to. I do not eat unless my husband makes me. I make people stay away because I am so sad and it just makes me more sad to have to talk to people. My friends send me daily picture texts of sexy men that normally I would laugh and make lewd comments about, but now they make me bawl because I don't feel sexy at all and my chest looks like theirs. I can't tell my friends to stop sending them because I know they think they are making me smile by sending them and they would feel horrible if they knew. I hate my body. I hate my doctor. I hate being awake. My husband empties my drains for me each day because I don't care. I am ashamed of my body and vow he will never see these new "breasts" that evil Dr. Frankenstein created.
6 days post surgery. My drains are ready to be removed. I don't want to go because people will have to see me. I will have to talk to people and they will ask me "How I'm doing" and I will want to scream. But I have to have them removed, so I shower and dress. I hate the way my shirt looks on me. I have a DD bra that I put up against my chest over the shirt and compression bra and all the gauze padding and it has an empty deficit of 2 full inches. I tear the goddammed thing in two. I am furious. And now I'm ready to see my doctor.
In the waiting room I see my surgeon pass behind the counter. I send her a look that pretty clearly telegraphs my unhappiness because she seems concerned. They leave me in my exam room. Eventually the PA comes in with a student to remove my drains. He makes the mistake of asking how I'm doing. I am a swarm of angry hornets. I am going to war. I lose my mind right there in front of my PA and that poor student who I'm not inhuman enough to not feel a little bit sorry for. "I HATE MY BREASTS. THEY ARE DISGUSTING. THEY ARE FLAT. THERE'S NOTHING LEFT. THEY ARE UNFEMININE. THEY LOOK LIKE A MAN'S PECS. I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AROUND A DD. WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE TO YOU? CAN I EVEN FILL A B CUP? I AM FURIOUS. WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME? I DON'T UNDERSTAND? THIS HAS TO BE RECTIFIED IMMEDIATELY. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT CAN BE DONE TO FIX MY BREASTS. THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED AT ALL." They quickly scuttle out the door. I am sobbing and shaking. He tentatively pokes his head in door and says he's going to get the surgeon to meet with me. I wait and I shake. I wonder why she did this to me. I am a really good person. I'm funny. I am always reasonable and objective. I'm never demanding or dramatic. I avoid confrontation at every turn. I am the person people always want to be around because I make them laugh and always find ways to say the exact right thing to make someone feel better. I am the wife that all my husband's friends and coworkers envy. I'm never bossy or nagging. I'm fun and likeable. I can't help but take this personally, like she did this to me for a reason. What? Was it too much for me to hope for a good outcome? Should I have not tried to make stipulations on what I wanted to look like? Was she offended by the requests I made? Was it personal?
She walks in and I lay it on her. I know her work is her art and I don't want her to be offended, but I hate my breasts. (See even depressed and furious I still try to be diplomatic and take into account her feelings about her work). I want them fixed. I feel betrayed. You promised I would love them. I look like a man. I was supposed to be a DD or close to it. Why why why? And by the way Dr. can you tell me how much tissue you removed from my chest? Oh, wait...she just shifted her eyes. She starts in on other things. The shape will change. I'm still extremely swollen. Hello? That means that I'm bigger than I will be...so how is that supposed to make me look bigger? No, I won't be bigger, but the tissue will start to round out at the bottom. Yes, she acknowledges that I look like I have man pecs. But she insists the shape will change. As the swelling goes down the tissue will start to settle toward the bottom and they will have a more feminine shape to them. She does not like to create breasts with a rounded bottom to start because gravity takes care of that over the first year. If she created a breast with a rounded bottom there was a chance of a condition called bottoming out happening. I understand everything she's saying and tentatively start to hope that maybe my breasts won't be hideous forever. But then I remember how she betrayed me. I stick to my guns about the size. A little discrepancy is not a huge deal, but this is not a little discrepancy. She says she can't guarantee the size. Yeah. Cop out. I've heard that song and dance before.
I say how can this be fixed. Oh the irony is not lost on me. I fully acknowledge the ridiculousness of having a reduction only to have my boobs made bigger again. It's absurd. But I just can't come to terms with having no chest. I already had a hysterectomy due to cervical cancer and had to deal with the fact that I could never have another baby again even if I wanted to. That's a ping against your femininity. And now I have no breasts. I feel like I'm going through and involuntary sex reversal. So she says after 1 year if I'm still unhappy they can do implants or fat transfer. I'm happy to know there are still options, but pretty angry that I might have to pay to fix this mistake.
Speaking of, that reminds me: I ask again, "How much tissue did you remove?" Oh, look at that. She is UNCOMFORTABLE. She says, "The insurance company stipulated 500grams from each breast." A non answer. She does not want to answer me. I already knew how much the insurance company stipulated. She did not answer my question. "Yes, but how much did you remove total?" Oh man, she is looking everywhere but at me. I start getting that sick feeling again. She says she doesn't know off the top of her head. I ask her if she can GET that information. She reluctantly agrees and says she'll be back to remove my drains. She comes back in the room chattering away about drains, drains, drains. I asked her how much tissue she removed and she isn't getting out of it so she says, "Altogether 900+grams from each breast." BOOM. I am decimated. What? I ask her how that is possible. How did that happen. She says that the first cut she made to remove the tissue from the side of my breast weighed 540grams, and because she had already removed it, she had to go from there and reduce the rest of my breast to match. SHE FUCKED IT UP. OMG. She took too much (with too much being the TOTAL I was supposed to have removed from my entire breast) on that first cut and had to make me a man chest.
I go home and cry some more to my husband, who still hasn't seen my breasts. I tell him everything she said and he's furious with me at her. He's a really great guy and I feel bad for him because I don't really ever want him to see them. Looks like it'll be sex in sweatshirts from now on. I allowed a friend to visit me in my room last night. But only because she had some flowers that were delivered for me when I was at the doctor. I still don't want to see anyone. More I don't want anyone to see me. I don't want to feel people looking at my chest and wondering about how it looks now. Or wondering why I have no chest now.
I am so embarrassed. Isn't that a silly, worthless emotion? I know everyone will be good to me and support me, cry with me, rage with me, and eventually laugh with me about this but I would rather just hide for now. I guess maybe I don't feel worthy of being seen. I don't know who I am anymore without my identity. My self image is shattered. I avoid the mirrors and I smoke cigarettes that I gave up 8 years ago. I feel compromised. But I also know that it hurts my husband and my friends when I'm hiding. They hurt when they can't help me and I know that there's nothing I can do for myself, so I can do this one thing for them. There's no need for us all to feel bad. So tonight, one week after my operation, I'm finally going to leave my bed and go spend some time at a friend's house. I WILL NOT talk about this operation because if I do, I will cry and I hate crying. We'll talk about other things and we will ignore that my body looks strange. I hope they don't try to cheer me up with sexy men, because that's a real sensitive area for me right now. Nothing like looking at a hot body to remind you how awful you feel about your own. I know I'll hang in there, and maybe in a year my breasts will be shaped in a more feminine way and I'll be able to look in a mirror or let my husband see me without my shirt on. Or maybe I'll always have to ignore my breasts and pretend like there's a censor bar over them. Who knows.
And after all this, I still hesitate to name my doctor here and complicate her life. I certainly don't want her to do this to anyone else, but I am still sensible enough to know that maybe, although tiny, my breasts still might turn out okay in a year or something. Just not the right size. I am not a mean or vindictive person and I don't go around rattling cages. I've had very little in my life that has caused me such righteous indignation.
I have pictures of what my breasts looked like before and what they look like now, but I'm not ready to post those yet. Maybe when the swelling has gone down. Maybe not. We'll see.