Making the choice to have breast reduction surgery can be intimidating. Women who want to have this life-changing so-called cosmetic surgery often worry about pain, about the safety of the surgery itself, and about the opinions of the people around them. Another common concern is that they’re wasting time and resources on themselves when they have a family, a job, and other people to look after.
All these worries make the process slower and more difficult and can get in the way of living a more comfortable life in every sense of the word. If you’re struggling with this decision, it can help to hear from someone who’s been there and done that. Jenny, 45 years old, had breast reduction surgery after years of debating about it, and her only regret is that she didn’t get it done sooner.
If you’re considering breast reduction surgery, then you may understand the problems Jenny faced because of her large breasts, and her concerns about having breast reduction surgery. Jenny had breast hypertrophy, or overgrown breast tissue. This condition is sometimes known as gigantomastia, and is a rare condition that isn’t well understood. It can be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy or puberty, but it can also occur spontaneously and without an obvious cause. The only way to treat gigantomastia is with breast reduction surgery. Most of the time, other measures such as dieting and exercise are ineffective, and can even make the problem worse.
Women with gigantomastia often experience a range of problems because of their large breasts, and yet they often hesitate to make the decision to have breast reduction surgery. As Jenny explains, “Prior to my surgery my bra size was a 22E. My breasts started developing when I was 11 years old. My condition affected my life socially, psychologically and physically. Physically I could not do many sports, especially running. I kept putting off the thought of surgery as I wanted to try other ways such as diet and exercise, which had little benefit. I tried to accept my body for the way it was and just live with it.”
Jenny also had a family history of large breasts that caused health problems, as she explains, “My grandmother on my father’s side had the same problem and had the surgery. She had told me she had a size 12 body and a size 16 breast size. She told me she didn’t regret the surgery. She also stated she got debilitating headaches and that they had stopped after she had the surgery.”
The Problem with Large Breasts
Large breasts are very fashionable at the moment. This has resulted in some women having abnormally large breast implants fitted. And it also means that women who don’t want large breasts, those who are considering breast reduction surgery, often feel as if they’re pushing against the norms. But having large breasts can be extremely impractical. Some of the problems large breasts can cause include:
- Back and neck problems.
- Difficulty exercising.
- Bad posture.
- Interrupted or uncomfortable sleep.
- Breastfeeding difficulties.
- Unwanted attention.
- Difficulty finding clothes that fit properly.
Jenny’s experience was no different and she experienced both emotional and social consequences because of her condition. Jenny says that “My condition affected my life socially as there was a limit as to what I could wear. I couldn’t buy any pretty or sexy bras as none of them supported me properly. I didn’t go out a lot as I was ashamed of having this condition. Sometimes at work, my large breasts were a way staff would stigmatise me or label me.”
Having large breasts also affected Jenny physically. “…going for walks was hard due to carrying size 22E breasts. I would come home from work and feel instant relief when I would take my bra off and lie down. I would get cervicogenic, frontal, and tension headaches.” These are all very common side effects from having large breasts. Jenny also says that she had to use creams to soothe the rashes she occasionally developed under her breasts.
Jenny’s attempts to treat these problems were often almost as bad as the problem itself. She had celestone injections in the back of her head and neck to try to relieve her headaches. She also tried cupping, a procedure performed by Chinese Masseurs that left bruising over her back and neck.
The Start of Jenny’s Journey
Jenny’s journey to having breast reduction surgery was a long one. She says that “I had been considering it since I was 18 but I kept putting it off because I was scared of the pain afterwards. I didn’t want to put my body through what I felt was unnecessary surgery. I thought I would try other methods such as diet and exercise. I also had been told that I might not be able to breast feed and I didn’t want to risk it.
In my late 30’s the pain became worse and I needed a lot more help to cope. My physiotherapist was finding it hard to help me as I had inflamed back muscles during my physio sessions. My physio told me the main reason I had all of this back and neck pain was due to having big breasts.
For Jenny, the increase in her pain levels and the increasing impossibility of finding help that worked made the decision for her. She says that, “…I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I felt the back and neck pain was getting so much worse. My headaches were starting to happen nearly every day to every second day.”
Finding the Right Surgeon
As Jenny started the process to have breast reduction surgery, she found that there were even more issues. She says that, “I saw three surgeons and I did not feel comfortable with them. The fourth surgeon I saw I felt comfortable with as he seemed caring and understanding, which the other three surgeons were not.”
For Jenny, this highlighted the importance of meeting prospective surgeons face to face, so as to understand if they are the right fit for you. In Jenny’s case, the Dr Michael Yunaev from Breast abd Body Clinic, the Breast Surgeon of her choice, had both the skills and the medical background she needed to feel comfortable and safe in her surgical choice. She says, “The surgeon I chose to do my surgery was not just a cosmetic or plastic surgeon, he was also an OncoPlastic Breast Surgeon, so I felt I could trust him to handle my surgery well if there were any complications. That surgeon was doing my surgery at a private hospital and not at a clinic.”
The Breast Reduction Surgery
For most people, the day of any surgery is a day of mixed emotions and it’s no different for women having breast reduction surgery. Even if you’ve wanted this surgery for a long time, you will probably still experience a mix of relief, fear and trepidation. This was Jenny’s experience as well.
She experienced relief, gratitude that she had found a surgeon she trusted, loneliness, and embarrassment at the idea of people looking at her breasts during the surgery when she usually hid them. According to her, she also felt, “Guilt that I had this condition that made me have to have the surgery. I knew it took strength and courage to come forward and ask for help…”
The experience also highlighted the importance of having support during the process. Before the surgery, Jenny joined 3 closed support groups on Facebook for breast reduction surgery patients. Sharing her worries and her fears during the period leading up to her surgery helped calm her and made her feel connected.
And on the day of the surgery, two other women from her groups were having the same procedure performed on the same day. She says that, “When I changed into the hospital gown I thought of the other two women who would be going through this, maybe at a different time and they were in other countries, but we would be going through the same thing together.”
Jenny’s Surgical Result
Jenny’s journey is now complete and yet it has changed things in ways that continue to affect every aspect of her life. She says that she’s now “Happy. People have been giving me compliments saying I look fantastic. Four members of my family have stated I now have a glow in my face which made me realise I have been outside more. Before the surgery my GP informed me I had low vitamin D levels. I knew that was due to the tiredness and isolation caused by the gigantomastia.”
Jenny has a new lease on life. Her self-confidence and her body image have improved and she feels more in control of her own life. This has made her keen to see more change in her life and she now feels as if she can do anything without the worry, pain or stress her large breasts once caused. She has no regrets, and that’s perhaps the best recommendation for breast reduction surgery that anyone can make.
Advice to Women Considering Surgery
Jenny has some advice for women who are considering getting the surgery themselves. She reminds them that it’s their body and their choice, so they shouldn’t make their decision based on what other people think or what society expects of them. Her advice is, “You need to ask yourself one question. Do I want to have breast reduction surgery? If the answer is yes, you definitely want to do the surgery, then everything else will fall into place.”
And when you’ve made that decision, Jenny advises, “Once you have found a surgeon you are comfortable with, work with him/her to achieve an outcome that is best for you. Tell the surgeon your concerns so that your expectations can be met.” This will help you have the best surgical experience and the best outcome possible.
So don’t put up with the pain or embarrassment of uncomfortably large breasts any longer. Talk to an experienced Breast Surgeon, and find a treatment option that suits your needs.