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Breast Reduction Surgery

Updated on September 11, 2014

A Necessary Medical Procedure?

Women who want relief of back, shoulder, and neck pain caused by large breasts are opting for Breast Reduction Surgery. Breast Reduction Surgery or Reduction Mammoplasty is becoming a common medical procedure. More than 70,000 women underwent breast reduction surgery in 1999.

When I was 16, I selected to have Breast Reduction Surgery. While I was still considered an adolescent and hadn't finished growing, I was still determined to take the risk and have surgery. Here's my story.

Life Before Surgery

Growing up, I remember one or two moments realizing I was "different" from the other girls in my class. Although I was considered over-weight, I was also far more "developed" for my age. It didn't get to me most days; I played sports at recess and was a pretty typical kid.

As I got older and moved into upper elementary classes, it was more and more noticeable. I was probably around a C-cup. That can be pretty embarrassing when you're in 5th grade. But I still had a decent self-image and although jokes were sometimes made at my expense, I let them roll off.

But I started having health problems. I developed what is known as Costochondritis, a type of inflammation in the coastal spaces of your rib cage. My back would hurt from carrying the excess weight on my chest. I began to grow self-conscious of my breasts.

Exercise didn't help to reduce them. At 14 I was diagnosed with clinical depression. A while after that, my pediatrician suggested we look into breast reduction surgery.

My family and doctors were surprised I knew what the surgery was. For years I had harbored hope of being able to have surgery to reduce my breasts. My self-image was shot and I hated that fact that I was a 44DD in size.

It was time for a change.

Pre-Surgery

Finding the right doctor for me

The first doctor I scheduled an appointment with turned out to be bad news. She acted as though I was to have surgery immediately. She pressured my mom and I to sign papers (my mom would have to give consent because I was underage at the time) and although she was very nice, something seemed "wrong" about our consultation.

A few days later, my mom received a phone call from our insurance, asking why some doctor was trying to submit for elective surgery for a 21 year old. The doctor tried to falsify paperwork on me! My mother explained the situation to our insurance and they took action against the doctor. We dodged a bullet!

A short time later we ran into some family friends. The lady had undergone breast reduction surgery not too long before with wonderful results. She gave us the name of her surgeon, Dr Richard Busby. After talking about it, we made an appointment to see him.

Dr Busby's office was very friendly and welcoming. He took time to explain the surgery to both me and my mother, listing out the benefits and the complications. He asked me how I felt about it; I told him point-blank I wanted surgery as soon as possible. He remarked that he could tell I was mentally prepared for what surgery would entail. Dr Busby had me watch a short video on the procedure, that explained details of the operation. He also explained that because I was so young, my likelihood of breast feeding any children I might have would probably be over, due to how much tissue he would have to remove. I said I understood, as this was about me and my health.

Dr Busby submitted the application for the elective surgery to my insurance, with my correct information, and was granted approval. I returned to see him once more, for pre-surgery pictures and one last consult before surgery.

Before You Consider Surgery

  • Consult your Primary Care doctor about exercise to reduce weight or if you might be a candidate for Breast Reduction Surgery.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of Breast Reduction Surgery. Is it right for you? Are you able to live with scars?
  • If you've decided on Breast Reduction Surgery, try to select two doctors and make appointments for consultations. Opinions may differ and it is important that you trust the doctor who will eventually operate on you, as your life is in their hands!
  • If something feels "off" or your gut instinct says "no", then find another doctor. If they aren't willing to listen or give you genuine answers to your questions, nor do they make you feel comfortable, do not have them as your surgeon!
  • Commit to the operation. Breast Reduction Surgery is a life-changing experience for a woman; it will affect you for the rest of your life. Read up on it, make plans for post-op recovery, involve your family!

Have you considered having Breast Reduction Surgery?

See results

The Day of Surgery

July 1997

My parents and I arrived in the early morning at the hospital to check in and get prepared for surgery. I'm not a morning person, so being up way early was rough. They gave me an antacid for my stomach and gave me a gown to put on. A nurse put an IV line in the back of my hand for the anesthesia.

The waiting was the hard part. Eventually, Dr Busby came in, dressed in his scrubs, and drew lines with a Sharpie on my chest, which would become the incision lines. After that, things moved quickly. After saying goodbye to my parents, I was wheeled in on a gurney into the operating room. Everyone on the surgical team was cheerful and friendly. They explained everything they were doing in preparation for surgery.

The anesthesiologist explained that he was going to start the anesthesia soon, and asked me some questions. Somehow we got on the topic of Disneyland. Then he asked me to start counting backwards from 10. I made it to 8 and everything went blank.

During Surgery

During the surgery, Dr Busby made incisons following the lines he had drawn before the surgery had started. The incisions encircled the areola (the darkened area around the nipple) and extended downward and around the underside of the breast. It looks sort of like a "key-hole".

The nipple is left attached to a strip of skin, so it can continue to receive a fresh blood supply. After the incisions are made, the doctor begins to remove breast tissue, fatty tissue, milk ducts, and excess skin. He may also choose to do liposuction to remove extra fat from the armpit area. When he is satisfied with the results, he then positions the nipple higher on the breast.

After the nipple is moved, excess skin around and under the nipple are excised (removed) and he begins to suture the area internally and externally. This can require hundreds, if not thousands of sutures. Most are what are called "dissolving", meaning they will dissolve and disappear as the wound heals.

The doctor also inserts drains, a tube that helps carry away blood and other fluids away from the incision site. Mine had little bulbs at the end to collect the fluids.

The procedure is then repeated for the other breast. The entire surgery can take anywhere from 2-4 hours.

After surgery is completed, you are wrapped in surgical gauze and padding, then wrapped with a pressure bandage. Amazingly, I woke up just as they were finishing wrapping me up.

I was told later that I was one of the youngest patients to have this surgery, and that Dr Busby had removed roughly a pound of flesh from each breast.

How Breast Reduction Works

Post-Operative Recovery

After being wheeled into the recovery room, I was in and out of consciousness. I was wrapped up tight around my chest, much like a mummy, and found it hard to get comfortable. Eventually it was decided that the time had come to move me upstairs to the room I would be spending the night in.

Most people will spend the night in the hospital post-surgery. Others might have to stay longer if there is complications.

I remember being very chatty in spite of my recent surgery as the orderly took me upstairs. But that's when the not-so-fun stuff started. The nurses brought me some juice to drink but now that I was moved to a sitting position, my head realized that my center of balance was now much different.

For several hours I threw up. I couldn't keep things down. Walking the few steps from the bed to the bathroom was terrible. It was like trying to walk on roller skates. I was monitored but eventually the vomiting stopped and I kept some juice down. My mom spent the night with me in the hospital. Every hour a nurse would come in and check my vital signs. Sleeping was pretty impossible. I was uncomfortable and one of my drains was working its way out.

In the morning, it was a waiting game. Dr Busby was going to come and check on me, as well as change the dressings. I was practically bouncing off the walls. Although I was heavily bandaged, this was the first time in my life I felt free. I could cross my arms over my chest, something I had never been able to do before. I was recovering from major surgery far faster then expected.

After what seemed like an eternity, Dr Busby arrived. He removed the drains and the dressings. I had my first look at his work. Both breasts were hard, swollen and bruised. They felt and looked like rocks attached to my chest. Dr Busby told me how much tissue he had removed; I went from a 44DD to a 42B/C. He redressed my incisions and bandaged me up again, then went to sign the discharge papers.

Shortly after, I was wheeled out to the entrance of the hospital and sent home. I was so excited I felt like running around the yard as soon as we got home!

A few weeks after surgery I felt a sharp pain along the incision site of my left breast. A check up with Dr Busby revealed one of the dissolving stitches didn't dissolve. It hurt when he snipped it free and removed it but that was the only complication I had. Dr Busby remarked on my progress, which was fantastic for a 16 year old after major surgery, and one last appointment was scheduled for after photos.

A Decade Later

Life Post Surgery

It has been almost 20 years since I had Breast Reduction Surgery. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for having had surgery. My body image has gotten better, and I feel more self-confident, instead of self-conscious about my breasts.

Most people have no idea I've had surgery. It is only when I tell them that they are amazed. I've recounted my story to many people, young and old. If telling my story helps one person, then it is worth telling.

My scars have faded dramatically since the operation. You can still see them but they aren't as noticeable as they were during the first couple of years. I suffered no complications. There have been minor changes, mostly due to weight fluctuation, but nothing outrageous.

I still find joy in being able to cross my arms over my chest. Sometimes it's the little things that are most important.

© 2009 missbat

Thank You For Reading If my story has helped you or brought attention to the option of Breast Reduction Surgery, I wish you luck! If you have comments or questi

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    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      This is very informative. I have always wanted more. Though after having my daughter, I do now. But I do know girls and women that have this problem and are happy when they have gotten breast reduction.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This post is very nicely describe about Breast surgery clearly which is very nice and helpful. Well done

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Ive just had Breast reduction a week ago, gone from 38G down to a 38D and im absolutley shocked, at the differents and feel like ive made the biggest mistake ever, so flat cheshed i can even face getting dressed let alone see anyone. please someone tell me i will feel better, i feel like ive had an amputation!!!... greiving badly!!!!!!!!.............

    • Loulie LM profile image

      Loulie LM 5 years ago

      Hi Miss Bat! Though I am not a candidate for this surgery, I wanted you to know that I added a link to this lens at the bottom of a lens I just published called "Does Acupuncture Hurt?". Check it out if you get a minute. This is a well-done lens. :) https://hubpages.com/health/does-acupuncture-hurt-

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      Although I'm not as large as some here, I've been wanting to do something for a long time. Perhaps a lift more than a reduction, but I wouldn't mind having some taken out too. They get in the way, they hurt, and clothes just do not fit right. Thanks for telling your story.

    • chrisssy profile image

      chrisssy 5 years ago

      I've been waiting 8 months for an appointment with a doctor to get a breast reduction. My appointment is in May. Right now i'm at 34H and, believe it or not, i've never actually had a weight problem. I've heard so many horror stories about breast reduction surgery i'm absolutely terrified but your story has given me some inspiration to feel a little better. I'd still like a bit more info but thank you and great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading your success story in hope of being able to tell my own one day. I have been suffering with extra large breast as well since I was about 16 and it has been a load to deal with, now that I'm about to turn 33 in a week I think it is time for a change. One problem, right when I had built up the nerves to have the reduction done, they are shutting down my place of employment. I haven't had any consultation appointments yet, but have two doctors in mind. I have saved of $3,500 so far towards the surgery, but now since I am about to be unemployed, I don't know how I'm going to come up with the rest. Hopefully I can find a charity or someone to help me. Again, I enjoyed your life changing story...... :) :)

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. I had my surgery four years ago and it was the best decision I ever made. My favourite part of the whole thing is being able to wear camisoles!

    • Lisa-Marie-Mary profile image

      Lisa-Marie-Mary 7 years ago

      This was totally awesome of you to share your story in the hopes of helping someone else out! When I was 18, my friend had the surgery (she was 18, too) and it made a dramatic difference for her!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I loved your story! Thank you for being so honest, open, and trusting to share your story with the world. Not many people say nice things about plastic surgery out in the public, but behind closed doors they're secretly wishing they could afford it or even making their appointment with a plastic surgeon. It's nice to see someone else who is proud of what they had done and who isn't afraid to tell it like it is. You go girl!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      i just had my breast reduction 3 days ago and i am 15 wat happened to u sounds like a horror story none of that happened to me. i did not puke at all. and i did not stay the nite i got to go home and the day after my surgery is when i got my tubes out which were very painful they bothered me more than my actual reduction,lets hope what happened to ur stitches dosnt happen to mine.

    • Kate Phizackerl1 profile image

      Kate Phizackerl1 8 years ago

      Why can't all Squidoo health lenses be this good? Blessed.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 8 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi, just returning to some of my favorites now that I can finally give you more than 5*.

      Blessed by an angel - and will be featured on my in-progress angel lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to Ramkitten] I am a G size bust and I am considering having this procedure.

      A docter was sure that I could be a c size bust. I have found 2 surgeons, one seems to do a not so good job another has been doing this for over 20 years. Surgery center or hospital better?

      thanks

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I had this surgery as well. I think it was 1993. The aftermath was tougher than I thought, but I too have never regretted it, especially because I'm an active person--aerobics/Jazzercise, running, hiking. Post-surgery, all of that was so much more comfortable. And so was I with myself. You did an excellent job here of explaining the surgery. It's a must-read for anyone considering it.

    • missbat profile image
      Author

      missbat 8 years ago

      [in reply to Betty Carson] Betty, I hope you see this reply. I honestly cannot give you a guarantee that a reduction would improve the costochondritis. I know that it did improve mine in some ways; I'm sure from a physical standpoint that having excess weight removed would certainly help. Since Costochondritis is also stress-related, reduction surgery could alleviate some of the mental/psychological stresses. The best thing I can recommend is finding a surgeon who is familiar with Costochondritis (or is willing to become educated about it quickly) and is also willing to work with you to the benefit of your health. Many older ladies are having this surgery and the comment I've most often heard is them wishing they'd done it sooner. Much luck and best wishes to you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I am 63 years old. Have had costo since 20's. Have been well-endowed since early 40's. Am seriously considering reduction, but wonder if procedure may worsen costo symptoms. Would appreciate comments. Thanks for sharing both of your stories.

    • puzzlerpaige profile image

      puzzlerpaige 8 years ago

      I'll have to admit the intro picture got my attention!!! Thanks for sharing your story. I have a relative considering the surgery. I will share this with her when the time is right.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very interesting...thanks for sharing.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 8 years ago

      Well done for telling your story. I remember as a child having a good friend who had this problem and was always terribly embarrassed by it and then at about the same age as you had it done and was always happier afterwards.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. I think it will help more women than you will ever be aware of.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 8 years ago

      Most excellent lens and well-told story. Thank you for sharing. :)

    • CoolFoto profile image

      CoolFoto 8 years ago

      What a gracious thing to do, sharing this intimate problem and its solution. I was average when young, but after 2 babies, went from B to C. Then to D. My only problem was with golf. Breasts did interfere with my swing. lol BTW I found you on JJJJ.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Well done! So many people will benefit from reading your story. I have had close friends who have had the Breast Reduction Surgery and they would agree with you 100%. Thank you for sharing.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 8 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you for writing this. I read every word. This is something I have always felt I should do, but am too afraid of the surgery and how I will feel after. It was really useful to hear your story. Wish I could give you more than 5*s

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      What a terrific example of a genuinely helpful Health & Medicine Lens. Personal stories like this are of such help to people looking for advice. Thank you for rising to the challenge! SquidAngel Blessings for you!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story and Welcome to the Sharing Hearts Group!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      Great info that could quite likely help someone else wondering about this.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I find this very valuable information. I'm glad that you were able to get the relief that was needed.

    • Kate Phizackerl1 profile image

      Kate Phizackerl1 8 years ago

      Well written. Layout was good so I could read it in under a minute - I have the attention span of a gnat. Kate

    • profile image

      Joan4 8 years ago

      Stories like this on the internet are of such huge value - you may never know who you have helped, but for sure you have helped someone. Have no doubt. Blessed by a joyful Squidangel!