Editor’s Note: This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind.
After I gave birth to my daughters, it wasn’t the stretch marks or my new flabby belly that left me self-conscious — it was the fact that my breasts grew four cup sizes and never went back down. I thought regular postpartum dieting and exercise would handle it, but I was wrong. It seemed that no matter what I did, I was stuck carrying these bowling balls around on my chest.
You might think that there are certain advantages to being naturally busty, but it turns out that a few years of shooting back pain, not being able to work out the way you’d like to, and never being able to find clothing in stores, is more trouble than it’s worth.
That’s why last month, after about eight years of dealing with back pain and special-order bras, I took the leap and had the breast reduction surgery I desperately needed. My surgeon and I decided that I was going to go from my previous DDD cup down to a C, and honestly, I could not have been more thrilled at the idea of literally getting this weight off my chest.
Since learning about my decision to go through with the operation, I’ve received quite a few questions. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t answer any medical questions, but I can speak to other women candidly.
So, when a friend came to me privately to whisper a few questions of her own, I was an open book. She had been considering the procedure herself and wanted advice.
“Give it to me straight, just how bad was the recovery?” she asked.
I told her it was not as bad as I expected. The first three days were not great. I was very sore, had limited movement, and was pretty much confined to the sofa or being propped up in bed unless I had to use the bathroom. But I’ve given birth twice — so I’ve experienced worse.
After the first few days, my breasts simply felt full and sore for a few more weeks. I would put ice packs on them and take Tylenol occasionally. It was pretty similar to the feeling of when my milk came in after my pregnancies: uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Plus, I was pretty tired while I was recuperating, because my body was healing.
Then, she was curious to know what the best and worst parts of my reduction were. I think the answer to this is going to be different for everyone — but for me, the best part is a tie between how much easier it is to exercise without the discomfort and distraction of all the former bouncing, and the fact that I can now actually buy my bras in my size at the store.
The worst part, however? I had a bit of drainage in my left breast immediately after the surgery. On the first day post-surgery, every time I bent down to use the restroom, I dripped blood everywhere. It wasn’t awesome, but it didn’t last long.
Since we were friends, she also felt comfortable asking how much my procedure cost. This was what even I was most surprised to learn.
My operation was covered by my insurance. I asked my gynecologist for her opinion and a recommendation for a surgeon. She agreed that it couldn’t hurt to go for a consultation. When I went to see the surgeon, I learned that I met all the criteria for a breast reduction under my insurance — so now here I am, two much smaller boobs later. I feel very fortunate, because I know that not everyone has access to the same kind of private insurance I do. And even for those who do, this procedure can sometimes be hard to get covered. For instance, my surgeon needed to remove a certain number of grams of breast tissue to meet my insurance requirements.
My friend then nudged me and said, “What do they look like?”
To be honest, for the first three weeks or so after my operation, my husband and I joked that I looked like a Tim Burton character because of all the stitching that ran around each of my nipples and straight down the center of each breast. Now, there are pink lines where those stitches were. Eventually those lines should fade until they are hardly noticeable, but there will probably always be some slight scarring. I’m OK with that.
In addition to each breast being smaller, firmer, and higher, my nipples are much smaller now because they were reshaped and repositioned. I honestly feel like I’m about 19 again. It’s been quite a confidence boost. And in addition to the cosmetic pros, I have less back, neck, and shoulder pain — and, as I said, it’s much easier to exercise. What more could a girl ask for?
Finally, my friend asked, “What does your husband think?”
I told her haven’t heard any complaints. Mostly, he thinks of it as a medical procedure — and that his opinion is irrelevant because it’s a little bit weird to imply that his pride would somehow override my health. She nodded and said she was going to ask her own gynecologist about a referral at her next appointment. It didn’t seem quite as scary anymore now that she actually knew someone who had gone through it.