Hello, hello, hello!
First off: in this post, I will be talking about boobs, body image issues, low self-esteem and anxiety as well as my personal experience so this is by no means how you should feel and this is not meant to bodyshame anyone. I am not a doctor, I can only talk about what I was told and what I went through. I wish for all of you that you are happy and content with who you are and are able to love yourself!
With that being out of the way…: I had a breast reduction in August 2017 (best decision of my life). I am writing this because when I was researching, I wished there were more people who shared their story. This could be a long post – sorry in advance – , I’m going to structure it by “why”, “pre-OP”, “surgery” and “post-OP”.
Why would you choose to get a breast reduction?
My boobs started growing when I was 12. They didn’t go slow though. Within one summer I went from nothing to a C and by the time I was 13, I had a D-Cup. Both boys and girl commented on them. Most comments made me cry. A girl once said to me “If you had a bigger butt and were more stupid, you could be on Keeping Up With The Kardashians because you definitely have the t*ts for it.”. All these girls who envied me for my boobs, all the time I wanted to tell them “NO. You do not want them with the feelings they make me feel.”. They were this piece of me that made me feel little to no self-worth. In my head people saw them, not me. I cried in dressing rooms every single time when I was bra shopping because nothing would fit. Shop assistants told me they didn’t have anything that would fit me. I am only 163cm (5’4”). I was essentially head, boobs, legs. I bought my tops and shirts in L/XL, so my boobs would fit into them. I hated my body so, so much. The thought of anyone touching me made me want to cry. I didn’t even want to hug my friends to say hello. (To this day, J. still waits for me to go in for the hug, bless her). Any guy, who ever made a move on me, I pushed away because all I could thin about was how disgusted he’d be by me. A huge part of my anxiety was owed to them. I haven’t been swimming in four years because I couldn’t find bikinis or swimming costumes that would fit my boobs and I know I won’t be going swimming any time soon because I still have a disturbed view of my body. I stopped doing sports because I didn’t find sport bras that would fit me and my back would hurt so much doing it. When I started losing weight, I wore two sports bras and a normal bra, I’d still get the worst backpain. Which brings me to another reason for the surgery: my back hurt so much. I was lucky enough to have pain only in my back (for some, it goes up the neck and gives horrible head aches). I commute to uni and the train ride is an hour long. After that hour, I didn’t feel like I could sit any longer and the pain would only go away by lying down which you can’t really do at uni and I had at least 4 hours of uni ahead. And an hour long commute back. I don’t now how I did it. My mum eventually suggested the surgery and we went to my normal doctor to ask how to go about it. And she said “Your boobs aren’t that big.”. Yes. She said that. I told her about my back pain and she was like “naaah, your breasts aren’t that big”. Needless to say, I went home crying, she made me feel like there was no chance for me to get that surgery covered by the insurance. (If you are reading this and are considering a breast reduction: don’t let other people talk you out of it if you really want/need it!) I got it covered in the end and my parents didn’t have to sacrifice holidays and stuff in order to afford a surgery worth 7500€. I went to see two surgents. The first one was in a clinic for plastic surgery when I was 18 with my mum. When he asked me about why I was there, I just burst into tears and cried through the entire appointment. Surgery didn’t happen back then; probably because I was scared and not ready. It only happened after I had walked into the living room sometime between Christmas and New Years 2016, telling my mum I wanted to do it because I was done and fed up with everything and I knew I wasn’t going to live like that anymore.
I found the kindest surgent ever. In Germany, for your insurance to pay for the surgery, you need to get medical reports of your physical pain (because if it’s “only” psychological, they’d rather pay your therapy, so I was told to not even bother getting an attest for my mental health, even though it was the main reason). After my first appointment with my her, I went to see an orthopedist who told me I should do physical therapy for my back which I did and it didn’t help, so he wrote me an attest. It said that my backpain influenced my everyday-life negatively and that my spine would be severely distorted by the time I’d be 35 (how scary is that???) because it couldn’t possibly carry the weight of my bust. I had gotten treatment because of my backpain when I was 15, so the insurance knew it was an ongoing problem. My surgent said I might have to lose some weight before surgery because otherwise they might say that my boobs only were that big because of my weight, so they weren’t going to pay. So I started losing weight (J.’s mum was so kind and gave me tipps because she like… knows everything :D). I lost 7 kilos (roughly 15 pounds) in the 8 months before surgery, none of that in my breast area. Basically, I gain weight around there, but I don’t lose it there (I still don’t which is a blessing now because my surgery results won’t change). I also got an attest from my gynecologist where she measured my breasts because insurances have fixed numbers for how much your boobs have to sag and stuff before they pay. I matched all their conditions and while some women have to wait ages and get rejected over and over again, I got the confirmation of them covering surgery one day after I sent them my documents via email. I hadn’t even sent them by post by that point (I was going to do both). I was extremely lucky. So a big thanks to the lady who handled my case, you made my life easier and better!
I then went back to see my surgent who asked me about what size I wanted to be post-op, to show her pictures of the kind of boobs I wanted to have in the end (which is not conventional apparently) and to bring a bra I’d want to fit into and she measured everything again, we made an appointment for my surgery and that was it. .
Especially men go “Why would you want to have a breast reduction? Natural is the nicest.”. My best (male) friend said that as well. And I took the time to tell him about the pain, the psychological torment I went through. This was a surgery necessary for me to live a life without pain. And that is important: you need to know that a breast reduction surgery can take between 3-6 hours, you aren’t left with perfect breasts, you are left with smaller, scarred breasts. The scars are not bad though, once fully healed (which takes about a year) you are left with nice, thin and straight scars depending on the technique. There are two ways: the anchor which leaves you with a scar underneath your boobs, around your areolas and then down the middle where it would meet the scar underneath. Then there is the lollipop way which is the anchor without the scar underneath. This is the one I got. Plastic surgery is meant to make you “prettier” and does normally not leave visible scars in obvious places. And this is not what breast reduction is.
What they do is, they cut open your boobs and take out of your breasts however much they have to in order to get you down to either the smallest size possible or the size you chose. For me that was about a kilo (bit more than 2 lbs) of boob-fat-stuff. You have a scar around your areolas (or areolae? Idk) because they will adjust them to a size that is proportional to that of your new breasts. They do not cut them off and re-insert them, however, you may be left with one or two numb nipples, but the feeling comes back after a while in most cases. For me a big thing was the “40% chance that you won’t be able to breastfeed”. That was a big deal for me. But then I thought “I am 21. I am not planning on kids before I’m 28 or 29. That’s 7 or 8 years worth of pain. I like to think my children wouldn’t want me to go through hell just for them to be to be brestfed”.
My surgery was over quickly, only 3 hours. Everything was fine. I wasn’t nervous or anything before, I couldn’t wait. The nurses and doctors were the nicest people. I woke up, still high from the pain meds, and I don’t remember much, but I remember seeing my mum (she had waited, my dad was working). She said that I just cried and said “they are gone”. I was over the moon. They were gone and for me that meant that I was going to be okay. Most people who talk about their breast reduction online stayed in the hospital for one night or left soon after the surgery. I was meant to stay for 5 nights (covered by my insurance, bless them) but I was allowed to leave on the 4th because I was doing great.
Loads of people are scared of the pain. I have to say: throughout the entire thing there was no moment where the pain was unbearable. I got pain meds but I didn’t take them after my third day post-op. I didn’t need them. My body may have the worst metabolism and my lungs don’t even work properly (asthma), but if there is one thing my body can do, it is healing. I did amazingly thanks to that. My scars are not white yet, but still barely visible. I am doing whatever I want concerning sports and wearing bras since 5 weeks after surgery. I sometimes get a short, sharp shock of pain in my nipples because the nerve endings are still reconnecting. But other than that, I am doing great.
Now, my body actually has a shape. I wear stuff in size M. I am more than boobs on legs 😀 It wasn’t a cure for my anxiety, self-esteem issues and my body image, but I am better and I know I will at some point be able to beat most of that. I can wear bras without having to go to five shops, trying millions of bras and buying maybe one if I was lucky. I can talk to people without feeling like they are staring at my boobs. I don’t feel like I am being sexualise. I don’t know if anyone apart from my family noticed. But I am happier. I do sports without feeling like my boobs are going to fall off or slap my face every time I go for a run. My mum said that she has never seen me this socially active and cheerful. It was worth it and I do encourage everyone who feels like they cannot deal with whatever problem they have: you can get help. There is always a way. You don’t need to go through your life alone. It doesn’t have to be surgery, it doesn’t have to be therapy, it can be opening up to friends and family and you will find a way.
I want to, again, stress that I am not a particularily stable person and my experiences are not the norm! Big boobs, saggy boobs, small boobs – who cares? They’re all beautiful, they are all gonna be saggy at some point and they’ll still be beautiful. But by no means they should affect your life negatively! I just really hope you love yourself and take good care of yourself!
I hope you found this somewhat useful. If you have any questions about my experiences, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave them in the comments 🙂
Have a great day, week, month, year, life!
PS: I want to end this post on the obligatory pun: Glad I got that off my chest! 😀