In honor of my three year breast reduction anniversary, here is a Q&A of all the breast reduction related questions I have ever received.
These questions come from private messages I have received and things I am generally asked in person. I did a similar blog responding to my friends fears surrounding the operation here.
Q. Why did I decide to get a breast reduction?
A. After years of physical pain, emotional pain, and sexual harassment, I decided it was the only thing that would improve the quality of my life. I thought that if my breasts weren’t abnormally large, people might treat me like a person, my back wouldn’t hurt all the time, and I might actually be okay with my body.
I started developing breasts around eight or nine and they grew quickly and painfully from there. This means I started getting catcalled at a young age, I was constantly mistaken for being older, and we all know how cruel kids can be.
When I entered middle school, people began commenting on my breasts. There was a period of time where I was called Malibu Barbie. I fell for the “I bet you can’t touch your elbows behind your back” joke only once, but once was enough. A male gym teacher told me I needed to wear a sports bra when I was wearing two on top of a regular bra. Everybody seemed to think it was okay to touch my breasts. I didn’t realize this was something that should never have happened until I was an adult.
In highschool, people always wanted to know how big I was. When I said I hated my breasts they would ask me “why?” How could I possibly hate my best feature? I felt like my value came from the size my breasts. On top of this, no one took me seriously. I had to work really hard to be respected as an intelligent student and not a pair of tits.
My breasts were so big that no matter how thin I got, I always looked frumpy and chunky. My senior year of high school, a sophomore said “Wow Brette, you’re getting fat.” I hadn’t gained any weight since the year before, but I struggled to find clothing that fit and didn’t make me look bigger than I was. I wore maternity clothing because it was stretchy. I hated my body. Especially when I got soft after I graduated high school and was no longer working out 10 hours a week.
And on top of all this, my mom was paying hundreds of dollars for bras. I was wearing extremely expensive underwire sports bras everyday (I had two) and they were still too small and wearing out quickly because I wore the same two bras all the time. It was too expensive to have breasts that big.
Q.Did it hurt before?
A. I had awful shoulder and back pain. Even having a very strong back and core because of cheerleading wasn’t enough to alleviate the pain. I couldn’t stand up straight or it would hurt, so I was always slumped over. I had and still have permanent grooves in my shoulders from bra straps. I had nerve damage in my nipples from the pressure of the heavy tissue, even my surgeon didn’t think I would get feeling back (but I did!).
Q. How long did I want the surgery before I had it?
A. My cousin, who is two years older than me, had a reduction when she was 16. That’s when I realized it was an option, but I wasn’t quite ready for it. When I was 16, I was mentally ill and this is when I started wanting the reduction. When I was told to wait until after age 25, or after I had children, I started thinking about ways to get around that. If I had to wait until after children, I would decide to never have children so that wasn’t a barrier. My sick brain thought that maybe, if I hurt my breasts enough, they would have no choice but to remove them. Of course, this thought process never came to fruition. I just decided that it would happen one day. One day, I would get a reduction. Eventually I couldn’t wait anymore and started asking and making a case for the surgery.
Q. How old was I when I did it?
A. I was 19 when I had the surgery. It was July 8th, 2015
Q.Was I afraid of scars?
A. I was never afraid of scars. My cousin who had the surgery once said that the scars were annoying, but that communicated to me that they only bothered her every now and then. I thought of the scars as something necessary and I was a little excited for them. I thought of them like tattoos. They would be a choice, and I had already found meaning in them. A scar, to me, says “I survived.” These scars would say, “I survived this period of my life and here’s the proof.”
It has been exactly three years since my surgery and my scars are practically invisible.
Q.How did I prepare for surgery?
A. My preparation was two-fold. I first needed to ask my parents to help me get the surgery. I wasn’t willing to wait until I was 25 because I was miserable and desperate. I read as many blogs about breast reductions as I could. There weren’t as many available as I wish there had been, and the available ones were pretty scary. I even watched a breast reduction surgery to make sure it was something I wanted. I don’t recommend doing this. At this point I wanted it so much the video didn’t scare or upset me, it was just really gross.
After I asked and finally found a surgeon that wasn’t in it for the money, there were a few things I had to do to. First, we had to prove to insurance that I needed the surgery. I had already been through physical therapy for shoulder and back pain. We documented that I was not overweight during the examination that also documented nerve damage and fibrocystic breasts. After my surgery was approved by insurance, I had to do a mammogram (fun fact: don’t wear deodorant to a mammogram). I was scheduled for an ultrasound on my breasts, but didn’t have to do it because I had one earlier that year that year when I had an infected cyst.
I didn’t do much the days leading up to the surgery. The morning of the surgery, I went to the hospital in my pajamas and it was smooth sailing from there.
Q. Did insurance cover it?
A. The surgery cost around $11,000. Insurance covered most of it as it was a medically necessary procedure and my family paid $2,073 out of pocket.
Insurance covered the surgery based on the examination that my surgeon did at the consultation. She documented related expenses, pain, and permanent damage. She also documented evidence of other means of treatment I had pursued like the physical therapy, mental health care, and so on.
Q. Did I go to a private surgeon?
A. I had a doctor refer me to a private surgeon in Lake Oswego and the experience was like buying a car. She told me insurance wouldn’t cover the surgery. We gave up. When I got a new doctor a few months later, I brought it up to her and she referred me to the breast center at OHSU. We went to that appointment and my surgeon made it clear that my insurance would have no trouble covering the surgery. I had two more visits and then I had the surgery. It was less than three months between consultation and surgery.
Q. How was recovery? Was I in pain?
A. I thought the recovery would be awful but it honestly wasn’t. My new breasts ached and burned a bit, but it wasn’t unbearable. I do have a relatively high pain tolerance, but again, I don’t think it was awful. I took the pain killers they prescribed me for two nights, but they made me dizzy and that made it difficult to sleep. I didn’t take any pain killers until I was allowed to take ibuprofen and even that wasn’t terrible. The initial recovery was not awful like I had been lead to believe by other bloggers and was over pretty quickly. I slept through most of it. There was a period of weeks were I couldn’t lift anything over 10 lbs, that included my cat. I also couldn’t lift my arms more than 90 degrees to my body. I couldn’t saturate my stitches and had to stay dry. My mom and grandmother helped a lot with bathing me ( I couldn’t wash my own hair with my restrictions) and taking care of my healing breasts, down to applying neosporin and massaging the scars for me.
I had the surgery on the 8th of July. The last week of July, my family and I spent in Hawaii. It wasn’t a problem. By then, I had already started the scar treatment.
Throughout the next (I think) six months, my nerve endings were reattaching and I would get sharp, tiny bursts of pain. It was nothing unbearable, just mildly annoying.
Because I have fibrocystic breast, I have cysts in my breast tissue and they can be painful sometimes. My surgeon wanted to preserve as much tissue and functional parts of my breasts as possible, so she couldn’t remove every cyst, even if it were possible to do so.
Q.What scar treatment did I use?
A. I used a silicone based gel treatment called Silagen. I bought it from my surgeon’s office and it was on the spendy side. I only needed two 15g containers. I can’t remember exactly how much it cost, and most websites that sell it do not release price information for non members. I think it was between $40 and $60 for 15 grams.
Q.What size was I before and what size am I now?
A. I was about a 32II before my surgery. I was a 32DD at my first bra fitting. My Victoria’s secret size is 32DDD. I wear medium soft bras and small sports bras. I do not wear underwire bras anymore and often go braless. I have a reflective post about my first bra fitting here.
I also have a list of five things that changed after my reduction that doesn’t include my breast size.
Q.How much did they remove?
A. They removed 450 grams from one breast, and 475 grams from the other.
A question that I rarely get asked, and wished no one would ever ask
Q. Do I regret it?
A. I have only had a few people ask me if I regret it or if I think I would regret it. Mostly men, but a few women. All I can say is that there is no scenario where I would ever regret this and there are no circumstances where you should ever ask someone if they regret something if you do not know them on a personal level. To be honest, most people assume that if I openly talk about the procedure, I obviously don’t regret it. Regardless, I still make it clear that my reduction was the best decision I ever made.
I only ever came across one woman who blogged about regretting the surgery, and she only regretted it because her husband was unhappy with her smaller breasts and she didn’t get the same amount of attention from strangers after the surgery as she did before. She had a later blog about getting an augmentation. All I can say is that this is a sad case of sexualizing yourself and assigning your worth to whether men think you are fuckable or meet their expectations of sexy.
If you want a breast reduction but think your significant other will not find you attractive or love you as much afterwards, I have to say that you are with the wrong person. They are in a relationship with you, not your breasts or your body.
Additionally, breasts are organs and they should never be sexualized. Never let someone make you feel bad about a decision you made about your body because it makes you less sexually appealing to them or someone else. Your worth is not determined by your sex appeal, do not let anyone make you think that it is.