I Had A Breast Reduction: Here's What It Was Like

by Brianna Wiest

Almost exactly a year ago, I underwent reductive mammoplasty. Yep, I had a breast reduction. A boob job. (People don't like to use that term when you're going smaller, but let's call it for what it is, eh?) I had a medical need to have part of my breasts removed, but honestly, that was just the nudge I needed for something I always wanted to do. But I don't want to focus on that, because I do not believe that you need a reason to augment your body. And in retrospect, having the guts to do what I wanted in the first place would have saved me a lot of headaches (literally and metaphorically).

On the day of my surgery, I went to sleep with 34 DDD cups (and that was when I was at my most normal, typical weight) and I woke up a size 34C, 250+ stitches, and a huge weight lifted off my back ... and chest, and heart, and head. It was the best thing I ever did. I do still have some scarring, but it's fading gradually. I don't have weekly trips to a massage therapist, or headaches from not being able to sit at a desk for an entire day. In conjunction with having lost a lot of weight, I now wear dresses 3-4 sizes smaller than I did in college, and for the first time, my cleavage doesn't spill out of everything I wear (that is, unless I want it to.)

This was me about a half hour after waking up from the surgery. A lot of people have wanted to know a lot of things about it. I guess any kind of physical augmentation is interesting to people, but perhaps especially one so deeply associated with femininity. Regardless, here are the most common Q's (and the totally honest A's):

"Why did you do it?" (usually followed by "But you didn't look that big!")

I did it out of medical necessity. But you know what? I didn't need that reason. I could have done it because I had huge breasts and, shockingly enough, I care more about my personal comfort than living up to a social ideal. I also did it because I was generally miserable with my chest size. I had shoulder and neck pain almost constantly, took Tylenol most days, couldn't wear a lot of clothes, and felt generally so out of proportion that I was uncomfortable with myself. As for the whole "But you didn't look that big!" thing, I think that's meant to be a compliment (?), but it's not, because all I hear is: "You didn't appear to need to do it. Your appearance wasn't bothering me, so why did you?"

To that, all I can say is: No shit. I know I didn't "look that big." When you get to the point of needing to surgically reduce the size of your breasts, you're usually already taking steps to reduce your daily discomfort. I wore a size XS sports bra over my $75 memory foam specially-wired bra that made my chest look about half the size it was. I never wore shirts that were tight around my waist, because the difference was unflattering. Of course I didn't "look that big." I went out of my way to make sure I didn't.

"Do you regret it?"

Not for one second. I have actually stopped and asked myself, "Are you sure you're not going to regret not regretting it?" I say this to a lot of people, and mean it sincerely: It changed my life. It changed my lifestyle. It changed the way I physically feel every single day. I had heard from a number of people who had it done that it was the best decision of their lives, and I rally with them too now. (It was. It seriously was.)

"What was the recovery like?"

Pretty painless. I left the hospital an hour post-op. This was me when I got home:

I took a Percocet when I woke up, but after that, I didn't need more than a little bit of Tylenol (my breasts were numbed with Novocain). I literally didn't feel anything. Actually, that was the tricky part: I was so numb that I had to make sure I was still and careful enough, because I couldn't really sense if I was tearing a stitch or doing something that otherwise compromised the healing process.

Basically, I took a few days off work, spent a day in bed, had an excuse not to carry crap for a few weeks, and then went about my life as usual.

"How different do they look?"

Very different! The process ultimately lifts and reshapes them, so they don't look anything like my natural breasts, but I'm getting to know them. How many people get to have two great pairs of boobs in one lifetime? (A lucky few, that's who).

"What happened to your nipples?"

So, I still have my real ones, but the areola was cut so that it would be a size that was proportionate to my new breast, and the smaller nipple was moved up, so as to lift them. But yeah, the actual nipple is still mine, just smaller.

"Will you still be able to breastfeed?"

Yes. That was something very important to me. But I dislike this question, because it almost suggests there's something wrong with not breastfeeding, or that my breasts would somehow be less real if they weren't able to perform that function.

"How much did you actually lose?"

Four cup sizes. Between four and seven pounds (I don't really know because I also lost weight while recovering). 3-4 dress sizes. An untold amount of physical pain, strain, stress and discomfort.

"Do you really not have to wear a bra?"

Yeah! The myth is true! I do not have to wear a bra anymore. You can't tell the difference. The way they were reshaped makes them look as though they are naturally positioned as a bra would do. It's amazing.

"How did your significant other react?"

I don't appreciate this question, and I don't think anybody who has, is having, or has had a breast reduction would. (Who cares how they react? If they're unhappy about it, they're kinda assholes anyway???) The answer: I wasn't dating anybody at the time, but nobody who I've been with since has really cared (even when the scarring was worse). If anything, the collective opinion seemed to be pride that I had done that for myself, or interested because (especially at first) they looked really different, but otherwise pleased. Boobs tend to have that effect on people.

Images: asitansuave/Flickr; Brianna Wiest(3)