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How a breast reduction changed one women's life

Posted by Dr Jamie Burt on 13 October 2015

This article was written on the shape.com website but I felt it was such a genuiune story it was worth sharing as so many of you will be able to relate to it. Read Cassie's  full story. (link)

"In 2010, when I was 22, I started thinking about having a breast reduction. I had just graduated from the University and had gained a bunch of weight throughout college. My boobs had grown bigger than they already wereand they had always been big. By graduation, though, I was an H cup.

Friends had always said how lucky I was: I had big boobs! But I just never felt comfortable. In fact, my breasts hurt.

For one, they made it hard for me to work out. Exercise has always been a part of my life; in high school and college, I played sports, but running was really difficult. The bouncing up and downit was like something was pulling on my chest with every step. No sports bras fit. I had to wear a regular bra and two sports bras for anything more rigorous than simply walking.

The weight was really hard on my back too. I couldn't stand for even 10 to 15 minutes without something hurting. I was in chronic pain and my posture was suffering. I would throw my neck out all the time just because I would tense up from hunchingI even pinched a nerve in my neck! At my part-time job at Pottery Barn, when I went to pick boxes up, my breasts would even be in the way of that.

I always knew that breast reduction was a possible procedureI had a few friends who had done itbut I hadn't really researched it, and I didn't know much about it.

The Decision
While I started toying with the idea after graduation, it wasn't until 2014 that I called my mom and told her I was thinking about having the surgery. It had gotten to the point where the pain was simply too much.

So I started doing more research and decided to go on a high deductible healthcare plan. If my doctor and insurance company decided I was a candidate, I'd pay the $2,000 deductible and the rest of the surgery would be covered by insurance. I was fortunate that my mom also said she would help me pay.

I also set a goal for myself: to lose 20 pounds before the surgery. This wasn't a requirement, but I did this so that I could go in there and say, 'I know I can do this and I know I can maintain this lifestyle post-surgery.'

The Consultation
Three months later, after cutting out drinking and switching up my diet, I had successfully lost 20 pounds. That felt good, but I was still in pain, so I knew I had made the right decision.

At the consultation, your doctor basically assesses the situation. I took my shirt off and my doctor measured my breasts and took a photo. He said he strongly recommended I do the surgery: My breasts were so big that they were bad for my frameand he could tell that my posture wasn't good.

My doctor also showed me photos of some of his past work. 

As for the surgery itself, he explain that because my breasts were so oversized, the incisions would be different than with a breast augmentation. Staples and stitches would go under my breasts and then up to my areola, and he would also make my areolas smaller. The surgery would remove fatty tissue and skin and take me from an H cup to a C.

My doctor also explained the downsides of the surgery: because of how the incisions are made, I might not be able to breastfeed when I'm pregnant, and there was a possibility I may never get sensation back in my nipples. Besides that, though, the surgery is fairly common.

To be honest, I didn't even think twice about the negatives. I was 26, single, in constant pain, and this was the right time to do it.

The Surgery
My surgery was on a Thursday. I went in around 6 a.m. Before it started, I was a little bit nervous. I'm not the type of person who does a lot of things to changeso to do something as big as surgery was a bit scary. I'd never even broken a bone, so I was overwhelmed and flushed. But my doctor talked me through it, marking where the incisions would go and telling me to take a few deep breaths. When the surgery started, I think I was out from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

When I woke up, I felt fine but I was very, very sore. My breasts were completely Saran wrapped and then wrapped again with an ACE bandage. I wasn't to touch the ACE bandage until my follow-up appointment three days later. And I needed help putting my clothes on those first few days, to make sure I didn't strain my arms too much. It's really difficult to lift your armsthe incisions go up the sides of your chest too.

And though I was in and out of sleep and bandaged during those next few days, I could tell that my chest was a lot smaller. The pressure was different. Two pounds of weight was removed from each breast.

Post-Surgery Success
Three days after the surgery, at a follow-up appointment, my doctor took the staples out and took a look. His reaction was so funny: "Great work. This looks really great." He took the ACE bandage off and gave me a post-surgery bra since I couldn't go bra shopping until the swelling had stoppedwhich wouldn't be for about six weeks. I was back to work in six days. 

As the days went on, I knew the surgery had worked. I like to wear button-down shirts, but now the buttons were actually closing. I didn't feel vulgar. When I wore clothes before, a lot of times, they didn't fit or I'd have to wear a scarf to cover cleavage. A couple of weeks out, I realized I could wear a lot of clothes I had worn in college that I hadn't been able to wear in years.

How a Breast Reduction Changed One Woman Life

When I went out six weeks later to buy my first C cup bra, it was great. I could finally buy a buy pretty bra like the ones my friends always wore. Before the surgery, I always had to meander over to Macy's and buy some skin-tone, full-coverage piecepretty much the most unattractive thing in the store. That was all I could buy without underwire digging into my armpits, straps pressing into my back, or constantly making sure my boobs didn't fall out of the cup.

Post-surgery, I really nervous about everything, from running to rolling over in my sleep to the pressure from the showerhead. But in March, I started exercising again. My roommate at the time had a dog, so I'd take him on walks then gradually I would run for a mile or even just for five minutes to gauge my comfort level. Soon, I was running again and I lost another 10 pounds. I was ecstatic! I hadn't been able to run for a mile, let alone five minutes, without being so exhausted before the surgery. Each time I ran, I remember just being shocked that I could do it! Gradually, my scars and my body completely healed.

Today, I am completely back to full strength. I have hardly any back pain, my posture is a lot better, I run four times a week (which improves my mood!), and I can walk for a long time now without any sort of issue. I've also found I can pick things up much more easily.

The surgery also helped my confidence levelI was confident before, but I'm even more confident now. It was the best decision I've ever made."

If you have a story like Cassie's we would love to hear about it. If you would like a consultation just to answer some questions, I'd love to meet and hear your story.

Dr Jamie BurtAuthor:Dr Jamie Burt
About: Dr Jamie Burt was born and educated in Melbourne, attending the University of Melbourne and graduating with MBBS in 1998. He is a member of the Senior Medical Staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, and was Head of Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute until 2004. Known for his respectful, informative, and caring approach, Jamie has been caring for women with breast reduction concerns for over 15 years. During this time, one moment stands out as defining what he aims to achieve with The Breast Reduction Clinic.
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