Over the past few weeks, I have been having conversations with clients about having breast reduction surgery because it is going to affect booking for the next couple of months. In the course of these conversations I have discovered that 1) a lot of people are close to someone who has already had the procedure and 2) a lot of people are interested in having the procedure done themselves. That combined with the fact that I have been reading other peoples accounts in preparation for my own surgery led to my decision to chronicle the journey for you. Over the coming months, I will write posts about my decision to have breast reduction surgery, what the day of and immediate recovery look like, and how my recovery is continuing afterward. I hope that you find this helpful whether you are considering having breast reduction surgery, or are just curious about it. Have you already had the procedure or are in the process of seeking it out? Let us know in the comments!
Why breast reduction surgery?
I think that it is important to start out this series by explaining why I have decided to have breast reduction surgery (or reduction mammoplasty if you like correct terminology). I started developing breasts around 5th-6th grade, and they didn't stop growing until well after I reached adulthood. I remember getting comments when I was younger that I mostly just let roll off. (Yup, I have big boobs. How clever of you for noticing.) I also experienced some minor back pain and headaches. I remember when others would look wistfully at me and say how much they wished they had big breasts like mine, my reply was always "You can take the back pain and headaches along with them". Throughout high school and college I was also an avid dancer and they tended to get in the way a lot. When I went to college for theatre it was incredibly frustrating trying on costumes. Everything would zip up to about my mid back and then just stop. I can't even tell you the number of times that I had this exact exchange:
Them: Suck in!
Me: I am sucking in!
Them: The zipper still won't go up, suck in more!
Me: (smooshing my breasts as flat as I could) I can't suck those in!
Around my junior year of college I started experiencing a searing pain along the inferior (lower) angle of my right scapula (shoulder blade), that would radiate throughout the area. I was a dance minor and assumed that I had injured myself. After seeking treatment with the school trainers for months it was not any better. I decided that it was just something I was going to have to live with. Eventually the pain would stop searing so much and be more of an ever present dull ache that would get worse with certain activities like sewing for long periods of time.
The agony of shopping
They continued to be an annoyance whenever I was shopping. Nothing looked right. Certain styles would make me look pregnant, I always had weird lumps from where my breasts were spilling out of the cups (the lady at Victoria's Secret said I was a 32DDD), and bathing suit shopping was a nightmare. I couldn't buy a 1 piece because if it fit in the body I was pouring out of the top, and if it fit in the top the body was far too baggy. I couldn't even get the larger tops with 2 piece suits because in order for it to fit around my ribcage without being in danger of flying up, there would be a lot of spillage. When I got married in 2015 we went to Puerto Rico on our honeymoon and I wound up making all of my bathing suit tops and buying some bottoms.
Shortly after my marriage I started reading about bra sizing and discovered that about 80% of women are wearing the wrong size. How can this be? Either people guess and go with the wrong size, stick with a size they have outgrown, or get badly fitted at a store (NEVER get your bra fitting at Victoria's Secret... actually, never shop there period.) I wrote this blog post about how to shop for the correct bras. I measured myself, and it turns out I am a 34H. I, like many others, didn't realize that cup sizes went up that high. Sure enough, when I tried on a 34H, it fit! The gore (center part) was against my sternum (breast bone), there was no squeezing around the band, and there was no spillage from the cups. Clothes also fit better. No more weird lumps from spillage or bra muffin top. Fantastic right? Well, turns out, there is only 1 store that I am aware of in Chicago that sells my size, so it is either go there (Bras Galore is wonderful, but I need to have the time to make it down there) or order online and hope that things fit right and don't need to be returned/exchanged. Also, my size NEVER goes on sale. The online stores run sales all the time... on bras that are a D or lower. People would try to be helpful and recommend stores that sell "all sizes". I would skeptically check them out and sure enough, the most "inclusive" of stores carried up to size G. Is it too much to ask that I can just go to Target and buy a bra that isn't at least $60-80? Apparently.
Now that I was wearing the correct size bra, things were a bit better. I'm not going to say that my bras are comfortable, but they are much better when they are properly fitted. Remember that spot on my back where I was having that pain? It was still there. And it was spreading. The pain started making its way all the way up the medial border (inner edge) of my scapula (shoulder blade), and I was now experiencing similar pain on the left side. Then the pain started moving into my neck and causing headaches that sit in the occipitals (at the base of the skull). Then the pain started arcing over the top of my head to my eye brows or temples. I was also getting tightness in my jaw that would sometimes turn into pain. I used my charting software to draw the patterns to show to my doctor. The blue is tension, the red is pain. The pain was getting extreme and was occurring on a daily basis.
What I Tried First
Surgery is a big deal and not something that I think anyone should jump into without a lot of thought. I have been considering having breast reduction surgery for about 4 years, and it is time. I have tried many different things to try and alleviate or at least manage the pain such as:
This Brings Us To The Surgery
I have been toying with the idea of breast reduction surgery for a few years now, and there is no reason to keep putting it off. If this is something that will make me feel better long term, why haven't I done it? So how does one go about getting a breast reduction?
Have you had breast reduction surgery? Let us know in the comments what your experience was like!
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.