Stories from Breast Health

Breast reduction surgery helped me regain autonomy over my own body


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When I was in middle school, all I wanted was boobs.

This isn’t hyperbolic—I can vividly remember getting changed before gym class with my friend, Lindsey, who was an early bloomer and seemed to be perpetually clad in cute bra-and-panty sets. To me, Lindsey was a woman. I, on the other hand, was a gangly sixth grader with rainbow braces who couldn’t even fill out a training bra.

Eleven-year-old me thought my flat chest was the worst thing in the world. My mom, who was a DDD herself, would laugh before placating me with a “be careful what you wish for.” It infuriated me.

Four years later, I got my wish. In my sophomore year of high school, I had gone from an A cup to a D cup in under three months. For a while, I felt like a force. In my mind, I had reached the pinnacle of femininity I had only dreamed of four years before in that middle school locker room.

But, as with anything, the novelty wore off. By my junior year, I was a full 34DD. My new proportions made it extremely difficult to find clothes that were cute and flattering while still accommodating my breasts. I’d go weeks at a time wearing sports bras and oversized T-shirts to try and hide my chest. Exercise suddenly felt impossible, too. I had been riding horses since I was five; in order to continue doing the sport I loved, I doubled up on sports bras for extra support, which left my back sore and shoulders endlessly indented with deep, red divots.

I learned very quickly that having big boobs invited unwanted attention from men and women alike, who would remark or demean my individuality down to my cup size.

There’s also this strange and quiet stigma that surrounds women with large breasts, as if being busty is synonymous with being provocative or promiscuous. I learned very quickly that having big boobs invited unwanted attention from men and women alike, who would remark or demean my individuality down to my cup size. Case in point: When I was 16, two older women who led my local youth group sat me down to talk about the importance of modesty…after I wore a v-neck maxi dress.

In moments like these, I truly understood what my mom meant all those years ago. If having big boobs meant constantly fielding unsolicited opinions and gross perceptions, I sure as hell didn’t want them.

By the time I graduated college in 2015, I, quite frankly, hated my body. Physically, I was tired and ached from carrying around the extra weight. I was drained from never being able to find clothing that fit properly, or worse, feeling provocative and uncomfortable when I did wear anything even remotely revealing (like gasp, a V-neck). The one thing I thought I wanted had successfully stripped me of all my self-esteem and security.

Around this time, my mother had announced she was getting a breast reduction for her 50th birthday. I watched with awe and jealousy as she went from a 42DDD to a 38B in less than four hours. Two weeks later, she looked and felt like an entirely different woman who beamed brightly with a new-found confidence. Her transformation alone was enough for me to confirm I wanted a breast reduction of my own.

Thus began a year-long battle with insurance. Breast reductions are one of the few cosmetic surgeries that, if you can prove it to be medically necessary, can be fully covered by insurance. But reduction mammoplasty is often difficult to “justify” in younger women, especially those who haven’t gone through pregnancy and childbirth. This meant requesting letters from doctors, months of preventative care in physical therapy, and ongoing chiropractic sessions to validate my breasts were causing severe, life-altering discomfort.

After two denials from insurance and one appeal from my surgeon (the same doctor who did my mom’s reduction), I finally got my wish. In May 2018, I went into surgery on a Friday morning a 34DD—I came out four hours later a 34 C.

I spent so long worrying about what I looked like that, for the first time in a long time, I can just be, which is freeing in and of itself.

It’s been a year and a half since surgery, and I can honestly say that getting a breast reduction was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel physically lighter, no longer fighting the constant back and shoulder pains I had suffered from for years. I’m no longer top-heavy; my body feels proportionate and I can confidently wear things (halter tops, bralettes, string bikinis) I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing as a 34DD. I can also finally exercise and do things comfortably without having to compensate via sports bras or modify for my chest size.

But more importantly, my confidence has rebounded and my relationship with my body has completely evolved. Now, I genuinely like what I see in the mirror and don’t feel the stifling self-awareness and psychological distress that had weighed me down, literally and metaphorically, for over a decade. I spent so long worrying about what I looked like that, for the first time in a long time, I can just be, which is freeing in and of itself. While I’m not perfect and still experience small, normal bouts of self-doubt, the constant fretting over my appearance and people’s perceptions of me has subsided tenfold. My body is finally mine, free from self and public scrutiny. And man, does it feel good.

Femininity and womanhood isn’t dictated by your curves or your cup size, as I once misunderstood many moons ago.  Life as a C cup has been liberating and empowering—I more myself than I ever did before, with a new-found agency over my body and how I want to live in it.

When it comes to finding clothes that fit, having big boobs can be tough. Definitely don’t double up on your sports bras—try, one of these zip-front sports bras, or consider investing in a minimizing bra. 

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