Someone told me (years ago) that Victoria Secret had lovely bras that fit bigger sizes, so I went in and asked to see their big bras. The visibly uncomfortable clerk said she needed to measure me first, and after doing so, blushed furiously and said, "I'm sorry, we don't have anything THAT big here." So that was fun.
I had been very athletic since a young age, and tried everything to manage the giant mass on my chest. When doctors and insurance companies say that we should just work out more, I want to scream. They should first tie two bags of flour to their chest and then try to work out even once, let alone for years. Working out does nothing except keep the rest of your body toned; it doesn't reduce chest mass, and, at least at my size, it doesn't take care of the pain problem. And it is so damn hard to work out at my chest size. I can't jog anymore and I stopped swimming workouts the day I saw a man taking my photo with his cell phone. He wasn't subtle about it, either. You'd think that past a certain point I'd lose the ability to be embarrassed, but nope.
I have sharp neck pain, shoulder pain, and now chronic back pain. My arms and hands are numb in the morning. I get headaches that spiral into migraines. I dealt with the pain with heating pads, Motrin and Tylenol when I was younger, but the accumulated years have left permanent damage. I now have a hump at the base of my neck from posture problems. It's hugely embarrassing to me and from what I've read, I'm stuck with it regardless of a successful surgery. I've tried posture devices. They were expensive and ultimately worthless when the primary problem hasn't been dealt with. I also have such severe lower back, neck and shoulder pain that I have to take narcotic pain killers and get trigger point injections and epidurals from my pain doctor. Lately, I feel like I can hardly stand up by five pm; I've caught myself bending over like a hunched back old lady if I stand too long.
I walk, I do modified yoga, I stretch, but I am not an athlete anymore and I grieve that loss. I loved being strong, I loved movement and speed and physical self assurance. I shouldn't have waited. I delayed breast reduction surgery until I was absolutely sure that I wouldn't have any more children, and to my own way of thinking, just speaking to my own situation (this is just my opinion; not advice), I've made a terrible mistake in waiting. I waited because I had a very allergic child who did brilliantly with breast feeding, and because various family and doctors kept telling me that breasts went down in size after breastfeeding, after losing the last of the baby weight, that to lose sensation in my nipples would be the most aggravating thing ever, etc, etc, etc. I'm not blaming well meaning people; I have no one to blame but myself. I'm in charge of my health and it is madness to think otherwise.
It is especially mad to listen to doctors as if they have windblown hair from their recent descent from Mount Sinai, but I'm sorry to say I did so. I treated various doctors and their input as gospel ("What's too big, anyway," "Men like a curvy woman," "Big breasts are in style, most women would pay a lot for bigger boobs," "Don't do anything you'll regret; you'll hate being smaller," and, of course, "Just exercise").
But I shouldn't have waited. I should have pushed for surgery the moment my allergic child weaned. I mostly put off the surgery for potential future children that never happened (I wanted more kiddos but Stuff Happens. Oh, Stuff. Why are you always Happening?).
I have spent my entire life since puberty hating my body. Men talk to my chest, or try to be polite and look everywhere else to avoid the big damn elephant (or two medium sized elephants) in the room, kids in school were cruel as only young children can be, and I learned very early to put up with sexual attention from people who were old enough to know better. I have had people do double takes when I'm not wearing my usual loose, flowing clothes and it is humiliating.
It has been so strange to watch my teen daughter and her healthy relationship with her normal sized breasts. They are pretty and proportionate to her slender frame and she loves them, is empowered by them, loves buying bras, loves buying clothes, loves looking at herself in the mirror, loves the way she looks in a swimsuit. It's wonderful to see, and I'm so profoundly relieved that her body is a joy and not a burden. But it's completely alien to me.
I won't go into how it feels to go bra shopping when you are a size H. Everyone on this board already knows that uniquely humiliating, infuriating exercise in futility. I also won't speak to the experience of loving clothes, fabric, design, shopping, and knowing that the only styles available are baggy and baggier. Even the maxi-dress trend, which hide a multitude of sins and look great on everyone, were fraught with negativity for me. I love them but can only fit into the maternity size ones because I'm so top heavy. I can't tell you how many of my clothes I've bought in the maternity section of Target or TJ Max. The plus size clothes I can afford are ugly, shapeless and flat out tacky. Lovely, well designed clothing like Eileen Fisher are not in my teenytiny budget.
So. I started my long delayed but lifelong dream of breast reduction surgery last month. I've been researching it for years and years, but the first person photos and accounts on this site gave me the push and the information that I really needed. After lots of input from everyone BUT the people having the surgery, I finally got real photos, real answers, real experiences. What an amazing resource this place is!
I had an appointment with Dr Joseph Barnthouse in KCMO, but it took more than three months to get into him, and my appointment got moved once, making it even longer, so I kept looking and made an appointment with Dr Gary Hall in Overland Park. It only took about a week and a half to get in for a consultation.
The consultation itself was a bit odd. With my years of research, I went in expecting a conversation and examples. Dr Hall wasn't rude, exactly, but he wasn't warm, and he made me feel like my questions were unwelcome. I said I was concerned about shape and nipple placement, because there seem to be a huge variety of that in the before and after photos. I was especially concerned because the after photos of the plastic surgeon in my hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, actually seem to be almost square-ish with extremely low nipple placement (with the nipples almost pointing directly south;not attractive, really bizarre in fact....every single after photo looked the same). The doctor interrupted me and said "So the after pictures of middle aged women didn't look like the before photos of young teen girls? Why are you surprised?" He sounded so exasperated I didn't pursue it. When he asked what cup I'd like to reduce to, I said I knew that I am not very slender, that I'm a size sixteen (previously size ten) from a dead thyroid and I have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight but I've given up on that ever happening, and that bigger bodies shouldn't go too small, but in spite of that I really, truly want to be a C cup (I know, I know, not exactly articulate), and he said "Why? Why can't you be a C? What does being plus sized have to do with anything? If you want a C cup, you can be a C cup." So, that's nice? I guess? That I don't have to beg to be as small as I want? When I said I'd read that it's best to bring photos of before and after pics that most resemble the shape, size and nipple placement that I'd like, he interrupted me and said "Yeah, no, not necessary." So. Not outright rude, but certainly not winning any Florence Nightingale awards for bedside manner. With my bad thyroid and my chronic pain I've been to so, so many doctors, many of them lacking any sensitivity or capacity to connect or even fake a caring manner. Dr Hall's bedside manner doesn't even crack the Top Fifty playlist, however, he sure as hell doesn't make the I Love My Doctor anthology, either.
That being said, I've learned the hard bad way that I'd rather have a super competent doctor over a super personable one who only has a little game, a la Doctor House or Doc Martin, and Dr Hall seems to have mostly good reviews, and his before and after pics are pretty good. I don't think I'm going to find NY/LA level plastic surgery here in the Midwest, and frankly, at this stage of my life, I'm just trying to get boobs that will stop wrecking my health and that won't look too terribly bad. Contrary to whatever storyline Dr Hall has playing in his head, I don't expect to look like a twenty something, post surgery. I just don't want weirdly placed nipples or weirdly square-ish shaped breasts. It seems like even the biggest, saggiest boobs have a more graceful shape to them than a lot of the post surgical stuff I've seen, so I am concerned about that, but like I said, I'm at the point where I just want them reduced, period. I want to wear a pretty bra before I die. I want to wear truly trashy, filthy underwear, just once in my life. I want to wear a tee shirt without getting uncomfortable reactions, I want to go shopping without wanting to cry. But mostly, I'd like to be able to make it through the day without pain medicine, to stand up straight all day long.