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I must, I must, I must reduce my bust
October 6, 2006 7:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 5'2" 130 pound girl and I wear a size 32G (as in gargantuan) bra. I feel like a freak. Help.

It's taken me to the age of 24, but I've finally realized that my breasts are making me miserable. They are way out of proportion with my otherwise petite frame. I can't go running or play pickup sports with my friends because it takes at least one sports bra and a tank top to rein them in. Wearing button-down shirts, blazers or dresses is pretty much out since anything that fits my shoulders and arms properly doesn't have a prayer of fitting over my breasts and anything that fits my breasts is absurdly too big for the rest of me. The usual complaints about shoulder welts and back pain apply as well.

It's time to do something about this, but I'm not sure what. My question is three fold. I wil lbe asking a doctor about all of this, but I thought I'd query the hive-mind for personal anecdotes as well.

1) How much (if any) can breast size be reduced by exercise? What type of exercise is the most effective for this?

2) I have been taking birth control for five years. I don't remember how much smaller my breasts were before that, but I suspect there is a difference. I use Sprintec (the generic version of OrthoCyclin). Does the type of pill make a difference? If I went off the pill, how much of a difference is it likely to make and how quickly? What about switching to a different formulation?

3) I have always been somewhat wary of breast reduction surgery. It seems like such a drastic step for what is essentially a vanity issue. If you had the surgery are you happy with it? Are there techniques that are less likely to impact my future ability to breast feed? How long did it take you to recover? Did you lose nipple sensation? Did your insurance pay for it? Bonus points for surgeon suggestions in the Chicagoland area.
posted by fancypants to Health & Fitness (64 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
#1, weight training. Nothing has made my breasts smaller like weight training.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:11 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm a mere B cup myself, but it doesn't sound like a vanity issue if you're experiencing welting and back pain.
posted by Constant Reader at 7:16 AM on October 6, 2006


I dated a woman who had the same same problem, her breasts were smaller than yours (like a 38F) and she was five feet tall. She got a doctor to call her insurance company to tell them that this was a life-threatening condition, and got the surgery. She had scars, but she said it was worth it just to be able to run without carrying this enormous weight on her chest.
posted by parmanparman at 7:18 AM on October 6, 2006


With your situation, I really don't think its just a "vanity issue". Its clearly lowering your quality of life. Get some recommendations for experts in the surgery and talk to them to at least get informed before you dismiss it.
posted by rsanheim at 7:18 AM on October 6, 2006


I'm not possessed of female-type breasts myself, but I've had two friends have breast reduction surgery. Their quality of life immediately went up, and both of them are much happier with themselves.

I don't think it's a vanity issue: there are health problems, like back pain, that can be alleviated or eliminated by this. Yes, it is a serious surgery, and you should be aware of the side effects (sounds like you already know something about it).

In terms of recovery: they both regained nipple sensation, it took over a year for one breast (out of four; the others came around in a few months I believe). And I've had the opportunity to examine one set a couple of years after the surgery, and the scarring was extremely faint.
posted by flipper at 7:21 AM on October 6, 2006


I know one lady who had it. Apparently her procedure had to be radical and at one point her nipples were on a table next to her, and she permanently lost sensation.

It's a cool story about the nipples on the table. Overall she was glad she got it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:40 AM on October 6, 2006


I know two women who've had breast reduction surgery (my grandma, who waited so long that she has permanent inch-and-a-half deep welts in her shoulders from the weight of the bra straps) and a 20-something woman who went to college with a friend (and who lost close to 10 pounds as a result of the surgery). Both were extremely happy with the surgery and the resulting improvements to quality of life.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:44 AM on October 6, 2006


Reduction surgery leaves serious scars, be sure you are mentally prepared to deal with seeing those every day. I've never heard of someone regretting reduction, so if you are that miserable now: go for it and free yourself.
posted by Grensgeval at 7:48 AM on October 6, 2006


Sounds like it will keep you from exercising very much, so it will impact your health that way - not inconsequential.
posted by amtho at 7:53 AM on October 6, 2006


1) How much (if any) can breast size be reduced by exercise? What type of exercise is the most effective for this?

For me, personally, it made the problem worse.

As I've been dropping weight my breasts have stayed the same size. However, because my frame is getting smaller around them they might as well be getting bigger.

I lost 60ish pounds I went from a D to an F.

However, your expierence may vary as I'm the same height but weighed significantly more than you when I started working out.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:56 AM on October 6, 2006


Thanks for all the comments so far. I just made my e-mail address visible in my profile in case anyone is uncomfortable with getting into details in the comments.
posted by fancypants at 8:01 AM on October 6, 2006


A girl I dated had the surgery. She was happy with it, but there was scarring.
posted by Leon at 8:02 AM on October 6, 2006


I know a girl who had a breast reduction because of a neck injury, and she found that she could sit in front of the computer for more than 5 minutes, play sport etc. She has full nipple sensation (I'm told), and will be able to breastfeed.

That said, she was unable to look at herself in the mirror for months after the operation, and the scarring (2 years hence) is still substantial.
posted by claudius at 8:05 AM on October 6, 2006


To reduce breast size through exercise you are going to have to get to below 6ish percent body fat for awhile, and maybe stay very low for the long term.

Surgery sounds like a reasonable choice in your situation. A doctor should be willing to help you get insurance coverage because it isn't cosmetic.
posted by ewkpates at 8:09 AM on October 6, 2006


I had the surgery when I was 30 (I'm 38 now), and it was the best thing I ever did purely for me. You're young, but in a few years your back will *really* start to hurt, all over, from an hour after you stand up until you go to bed, and eventually your arms and hands might go numb from the bra straps cutting into your shoulders.

This is not JUST a vanity issue, believe me.

The pain from the surgery and recovery was really not that big a deal, I was on a lot of painkillers for a couple of weeks but I don't remember much about it, just the freedom of taking a walk around the block with just a camisole and surgery bra on, it was the best! I felt so free, and for the first time in my post-puberty life I could feel the breeze on the underside of my breasts and the air on my rib cage. That feeling of freedom and gratitude never really has gone away.

And I actually have increased sensitivity, and I was very careful to pick a doctor who wanted to make sure I could breastfeed. I'm pregnant now, and I'm not at all sure he was successful, but I'll find out soon. You'll need to really get a lot of references and interview two or three doctors, but you'll eventually find one you like.
posted by pomegranate at 8:09 AM on October 6, 2006


Oh and I still have some scars but I have really keloid skin, but the people who see my scars generally already know I had the surgery and could care less.
posted by pomegranate at 8:11 AM on October 6, 2006


i am pretty much exactly the same size as you, but don't really have most of the problems you describe. well, i definitely can't wear button-up shirts unless i pin in between the buttons to prevent gapping, and i can't wear blazers, but i never have any problem finding cute dresses.

i haven't found any exercise to reduce breast size. i gained some weight over the last year and noticed a significant amount of it went to my breasts. when i lost the weight, some of it (but not all) came out of boobs. i still wear the same size bras, but now they fit slightly better.

i take ortho cyclin as well, and i've gone through periods where i've been off it completely, but never noticed any change in breast size. ymmv, but i doubt even your doctor will be able to tell you exactly what would happen if you switched.

my mom had breast reduction surgery a couple of years ago. she went from being ginormous to being a c cup, and she's really happy about it. i'm jealous of the cute clothes she can wear that would look totally skanky on me, but i'm not jealous of the crazy scarring beneath her breasts. i was with her during the pre-surgery and during surgery and recovery, and it was pretty um... gross. i still don't know if i would go through with it after seeing that. if i was planning to have kids, i would wait until after that to have the surgery. for my mom, her breasts went up a cup size permanently after each kid she had. if she had the breast reduction before, and then they went up that much, she would basically have been back to square one. that's something you might want to consider too.

on another note, feel free to email me and we can swap horror stories/bra/clothes-shopping tips or something. where do you get your bras? i went to townshop in nyc (on the recommendation of someone here, i think), but they only had one bra in my size and it was almost $200.
posted by booknerd at 8:17 AM on October 6, 2006


To reduce breast size through exercise you are going to have to get to below 6ish percent body fat for awhile, and maybe stay very low for the long term.

That's simply not true- I reduced my breast size through exercise without going to a ridiculously low body fat. I didn't even lose any pounds at all- something about gaining muscle helped balance out my breasts and make them a little more manageable.

Breast reduction is a really serious surgery- it's probably a good idea to exhaust all other options before going there. It doesn't sound like fancypants has.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:26 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


My girlfirend is naturally around a C, when she is on birth control she was a substantial D, and currently she is off of birth control and is running XC and is not quite filling out a B. I would suggest (please take these with a grain of salt as I am a dude) that you try getting off birth control for a while and take up low impact excersice like swimming or bicylcing both of which should be easy on your frame. That could get enough of a reduction that you would feel more comfortable, and it is at least worth trying before you seriously consider surgery.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:36 AM on October 6, 2006


My girlfriend has very large breasts as well, and suffers from back pain and deformed shoulders as a result. She went through a period of time where all she talked about was breast reduction, but now that I have figured out how to make her have an orgasm just with nipple stimulation, she rarely talks about it. Breasts are an important part of being a woman, and a reduction is major surgery with potentially devastating side effects. Please exhaust all possible alternatives first... I know I wouldn't consider penis surgery without considering all of the alternatives, and breasts aren't any different (they're both very defining features of gender identity). So, that said, I think it would be beneficial for you to try getting off the pill, as the hormones it contains can drastically increase breast size. Chest exercises meant for men who want to get buff can also help. Breasts are essentially big bags of fat, so exercising the muscles involved can only help.
Whatever you choose, good luck!
posted by fvox13 at 8:40 AM on October 6, 2006 [2 favorites]


Breastfeeding After Reduction
posted by anastasiav at 8:42 AM on October 6, 2006


There's a lot of, erm, support over at http://www.wapsisquare.com ... a webcomic that features a girl with about your proportions. If you duck into the forums (linked near the bottom of the page), there's a whole couple of threads on resources for customized bras, and there's also a lot of girls that hang out there who have some of the same problems.
posted by SpecialK at 8:54 AM on October 6, 2006


My sister had breast reduction when she was about 19 (she's in her early 40s now) and has been generally very happy with it ever since -- at the time, I recall especially how happy she was to fit more easily into clothes, as well as how much physical relief she got from the back pain, etc. She also said it improved her self-esteem when people started looking her in the face rather than at her chest all the time.

Downside: she did have difficulty breastfeeding her kids. (I don't know if she's had any permanent loss of sensation.)
posted by scody at 9:09 AM on October 6, 2006


A good friend of mine had reduction surgery from what sounds like similar parameters to yours and it went extremely well and she is extremely happy about 5 years later. Saved on back pain, and also on her perception of how people perceived her (if that makes any sense). She is still large chested, just not very large. She breastfed with no problems and no sensitivity issues in general. She'd do it again tomorrow. The scars were small and well concealed and generally not noticeable. Obviously, ymmv.

In the meantime, one of the recurring themes of the "what not to wear" duo on TV is that if you have non-standard proportions then buy fewer, good quality, classic clothes and have them altered by a tailor -- they claim it is surprisingly inexpensive and means anyone can have clothes that fit them perfectly, and the extra cost is saved by not buying a bunch of clothes that fit poorly or you don't like.
posted by Rumple at 9:28 AM on October 6, 2006


In my experience, going off my birth control pill did not change the size of my bust. I went up two cup sizes when I went on the pill for about six months. Now, two years after I stopped taking it, they haven't 'gone down'.
posted by featherboa at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2006


I had a breast reduction almost two years ago and it was one of the best things that I've ever done. At your size, this is not a cosmetic issue, its about quality of life. Most health insurances determine coverage based on the number grams planned for removal. Considering your size, you probably would have no trouble getting coverage. I will admit to a bit of a hard recovery but definitely feel it was all worth it! As for sensitivity, there are times now that my breasts feel more sensitive than before. Its definitely an option worth exploring. Good luck!!!!!
posted by rglass at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2006


My mother had a breast reduction about 8 years ago, after life-long back pain and, really, she should have done it long ago. Her back has never fully recovered and she's tried a lot of things to help it. She's due for surgery next year to try and correct some problems. There's no way to know that her back problems were 100% caused by her large breasts, but they certainly didn't help.

My advice: try and find a solution now. Don't wait until you're older because you'll suffer much, much more.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:45 AM on October 6, 2006


If you are having welting and back pain, then you should do the surgery. In fact, a friend of mine used her back pain issues to have her insurance cover the procedure, since covering plastic surgery is less than covering other conditions that will surely encroach later on. My friend had her surgery done in Atlanta, so I can't direct you to a surgeon, but my understanding is that you need to be sure to find someone who considers all of the issues you are concerned with, and who is also realistic about the reduction. There is only so much they can do with the breast and still retain the milk ducts' functionality - so my friend's breasts could only be reduced to a D cup, but it was an improvement over what she'd had before.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:56 AM on October 6, 2006


I would highly recommend that you wait until you are done bearing children, if you plan to do so, before you think of breast reduction. The emotional pain of not being able to breastfeed your child will be greater than your current physical discomfort. See BFAR.org and especially look at the "Stories" section. I haven't read the mailing list for a while, but I don't think there were any moms on it who said, "Yes, I'd do it again," or even "Yes, I can supply 100% of my baby's nutritional needs without supplementation."

Consequences like nipple sensation, milk production, and scarring can not be calculated to any degree of certainty. You may find a surgeon who has a beautiful portfolio book, but you end up making keloids (the big, raised scars). Or have dog ears (flaps of skin under your arms). Or, as I did, have part of the scar tissue feel like a lump in your breast and end up having to have an excisional biopsy.

As for the back pain - see if you can find a proper foundation shop near you who can do good fittings and have well-made bras. A good bra can make all the difference in the world.

Anyway, I'm not trying to scare you, I'm just saying that this is a life-long alteration to your body with some potentially unfortunate side effects which may be worse off than your original problem. Please weigh the decision most carefully.

*Wishes someone would have told me this stuff way back when.*
posted by Addlepated at 10:12 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


I didn't even lose any pounds at all- something about gaining muscle helped balance out my breasts and make them a little more manageable.

Yeah, the goal with exercise would not just be losing weight/fat, but building up the muscles in your back, especially, that would help support the weight on your chest.
posted by occhiblu at 10:16 AM on October 6, 2006


My sister just had it, and her insurance covered it as it was a "back pain relief" surgery. I think she had a cooperative doctor w/r/t insurance forms, btw.
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:17 AM on October 6, 2006


Seconding SpecialK's referral to Wapsi Square and associated forums for commisery and resources. Here is a thread you may find useful; here is a page of information and links regarding bras.
posted by moira at 10:37 AM on October 6, 2006


If you do go the exercise route the #1 goal should be your core strength and posture. That means working out very differently from what most women do in the gym. You'd want to do thinks like plank variations, bridges, squats, crunches, hyper extensions and deadlifts, rows, etc. Don't waste time on: ab/adductor machines, 20 reps of tricep extensions, or 60 minutes on the treadmill if it means you don't lift.

As always, Krista's site would be a great place to start.
posted by rsanheim at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2006


I had reduction surgery at age 18 (I'm now 34). It was THE best thing I've ever done for myself. Took off 8+ pounds, and what a difference it made in everything - physical comfort, fitting of clothes (no more army surplus bras!), perception by others, and so on. I gained a lot of nipple sensation, actually. I had very little prior to surgery, and now, holy cow. I can't answer to breastfeeding, as I have no children.

My insurance paid 100%, as they determined it was definitely a medical need, not cosmetic.

My surgeon used a technique (inversion? not sure), where the nipple actually stayed connected the entire time - no nipple on the side table for me! He advised that this gives the best results for retaining sensation and the ability to breastfeed.

As far as scarring goes, honestly it's *not* pretty at first, but it does get better. The first year or two my scars were rather distinct, but have faded significantly over time. I've even found that in recent years I've had to point them out to people for them to even notice.

Overall, my best advice is ask around - you'd be surprised how many people have had this done. Find out who they recommend for surgeons, and then set up a couple of consultation appointments, to see who you connect with best. A good surgeon will be happy to explain the procedure (which has probably been improved/refined in the last 16 years), and answer your questions. A good surgeon also will *not* try to push you into surgery if you're unsure about it. Remember, YOU control the situation - you can walk away at any point. Best of luck in your search!
posted by spinturtle at 11:03 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


One more note...my large-breasted wife has had problems breastfeeding simply because of her large breasts. She's definitely wished for smaller while doing this the last four months.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:03 AM on October 6, 2006


Nearly every woman in my immediate family has had breast reduction surgery, my grandma, my mom, and my aunt. They are all tiny women, 5'1" - 5'4", all under 115 lbs, but had ginormous boobs in the 40D + range - post surgery they're all 36C. They're beyond thrilled with the results, and will go on and on about it if you ask them. My mom has absolutely no scarring whatsoever, but she had hers done when she was 17 years old, so her youth plus the fact that she's very pale skinned figure into that. She says she had very pale scars (under the breast, up toward & around the areola) for just over a year before they simply faded away. At the time there were no techniques that would allow for future breast feeding. Initial recovery was about 4 weeks, before she could take any gigs as a dancer, or resume her pilates & dance classes, and since we're Canadian it was covered under our universal health care. Both my grandma and aunt had theirs done in their late 30s & early 40s and have only a very faint white scar that goes from the middle bottom of the breast up toward the areola. All 3 women have normal nipple sensation, although full sensation wasn't immediate, took 1-3 mo after surgery. I hope that helps. My mom invites you to email her (by emailing me to get her addie) if you have any more questions.
posted by zarah at 11:12 AM on October 6, 2006


In regards to option 3, and on behalf of all men I must plead: Don't do it! I'm only half kidding.

A woman I was dating about 15 years ago had the reduction surgery. The doctor underestimated how much she wanted them reduced, so the benefit was marginal. The surgery was far more complex than enlargement. The scars were around the nipple and with spokes radiating out from the center. The technology may have improved since then, but it is hard to tell. They undersold the issue to her at the time, and they may be underselling it now.

The extent of the scarring was somewhat of a surprise to her, and a complete shock to me as a partner. Since you describe it as a "vanity" issue, more than the back pain, I just wanted to point out that the scarring can be really jarring to men, in perhaps a way that women don't really understand. If you have a permanent male partner, I recommend making him part of the decision, or at least preparing him for it.
posted by Manjusri at 11:21 AM on October 6, 2006


I'm a guy, so I'll be roundly mocked, but it would be such a shame to get surgery for something like this. I know lots of people are advising for the easy fix of getting breast reduction, but it seems so... extreme.

I would think tailoring and a professional bra fitting would help greatly. There was a great "What Not To Wear" about a woman with very large breasts who didn't really know how to dress- she ended up buying clothes and cutting/safety-pinning them together. They explained that she could buy larger and get custom tailoring to fit her chest- 'dress the largest part of you' is what they said. She also hated bra shopping, but after getting a professional fitting not only did her breasts look 'under control' but she said it felt really comfortable. A well made, well-fitted bra can be comfortable, attractive, and not give you welts. Exercise might help with any back pain issues; lots of large breasted models who are like you slim, petite, and 32G/H etc, for example say they don't have back pain or problems with their chest limiting their life. Talking to your doctor about whether the birth control pills might be making you larger up top can help.

The point being, you should explore all options to live with your 'condition' before you go under the knife. And besides, surely there are some benefits to being very well endowed? I know in my life, as I go achingly alone through this pitiful existence and pray for the sweet release of death... it sure would have been nice to have something that even if tawdry and superficial made me attractive to the opposite sex. It's all well and good to have a nice personality, blah blah blah... but it all depends on having something that draws people in. Scorn it all you want, but having a large chest means that you can meet more people, and increase your chances of finding real love. I suspect you even take completely for granted how easily you meet people... that must be nice.
posted by hincandenza at 11:43 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


And on behalf of the rest of the men of the world, who are not complete dicks, do whatever you think you need to in order to improve your quality of life. Someone who loves you isn't going to care about scarring.
posted by Loto at 11:44 AM on October 6, 2006 [5 favorites]


Manjusri, surgery techniques for breast reduction have advanced immmensely since fifteen years ago. Fancypants would be better off hearing the first-person experience of someone who's actually had it recently.

Exercise for breast reduction may or may not work for you; same with switching pills. Everyone has a different reaction to both. Some people lose more weight around the waist and the breasts stay the same, others lose the fat from the breasts--reducing overall body-fat composition will theoretically reduce your breast size, but it won't necessarily result in a not-disproportionate look. As for pills, sometimes it makes 'em grow, sometimes a switch makes 'em shrink, you have to shop around to see what different pills do for you.
posted by schroedinger at 11:46 AM on October 6, 2006


Breasts are an important part of being a woman, and a reduction is major surgery with potentially devastating side effects. Please exhaust all possible alternatives first... I know I wouldn't consider penis surgery without considering all of the alternatives, and breasts aren't any different (they're both very defining features of gender identity).

With all due respect, this is not true at all. Read the comments in this thread - so far not one woman who has had the surgery has regretted it. It's always seemed to me that breasts are an important part of being a woman to a man more than they are to a woman. If a woman's breasts are huge and pendulous and uncomfortable and prevent her from wearing flattering clothes and looking sexy, do you really think they're going to identify sexually with them in a positive way?

Manjusri, she says it's essential a vanity issue, but did you read her post? She has back pain and shoulder welts and her breasts are preventing her from doing things that everyone else can do.
posted by iconomy at 11:53 AM on October 6, 2006


Holy crap, and Fancypants, I am so sorry that you have to encounter some of the responses you're getting from some of the posters here. If you take out "OH EM GEE DON'T KILL YOUR WOMANHOOD bigboobiez r teh awezomezlolololsdfkljasd;f!", the only useful negative post is Addlepated's. Back pain, rounded shoulders, and welts are not a vanity issue.

And for posters recommending better foundation garments and custom tailoring--you're assuming the OP has the money to get custom-made and fitted clothing for the rest of her life. D'you have any idea of the time, money, and hassle that would be involved in that issue?

My breasts are D-cups, relatively proportionate, and buying clothing (especially button-up shirts) can still be trying. Bras? Don't even ask. I'm either regulated to buying really expensive bras, settling for less-expensive with lesser shaping and support, or creating a monstrosity out of two bras and safety pins that a friend helped me with once to get me ready for an interview. If your ideas about life with large breasts come from watching women in porn movies or bikini shoots, kindly shut up.
posted by schroedinger at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2006 [3 favorites]


Thank you to everyone, even the guys telling me . I already wear pretty expensive bras and I shop at the "miracle" bra shop that's supposed to make everyone feel better about their breats (Intimacy - seriously it's been on Oprah and What Not to Wear and in about 9,000 magazines and it's a really nice store). While they do help, it doesn't do much for how I feel about having breasts this big (or for my wallet). I have a gyn appointment next Tuesday and will definitely ask her about different pill formulations and possibly a referal to a surgeon who I could talk to about my options more extensively.
posted by fancypants at 12:03 PM on October 6, 2006


Whoops! That should be "thank you to everyone, even the guys telling me OMG! don't do it!"
posted by fancypants at 12:06 PM on October 6, 2006


I think it's really sad that women are lead to think that this is "just a vanity" issue. It's not a vanity issue, it's a medical condition which causes you ongoing pain and which is having a negative effect on your life and body. If the vanity thing is what's getting in your way, than don't think of it as cosmetic surgery, think of it as corrective surgery, which is exactly what it is.

I have known many women who have had reductions... not for vanity, but for a better and pain-free way of life. Not one of them have regretted their choice and all of them say it's the best thing they've ever done for themselves. I am appalled that someone here has actually suggested that you keep on suffering for the rest of your life with this condition because it will attract the opposite sex and bring you a chance at real love... give me a break! Yeah, that's real love alright... a guy who "loves" you because your breasts are so large that you can hardly walk without grimacing in agony. How romantic.

Please please please don't let what you assume to be a social stigma get in the way of allowing yourself to live comfortably in your own body, without pain.

Also for the record, with breast your size, exercise _might_ make them a little bit smaller, but not as much to make a real difference (your large breasts are not caused by you being fat)... and as often happens, especially because they are so large, they will end up sagging quite a bit if they lose enough tissue... which will only contribute to more pain and pulling on your shoulders and back... with the added vanity concern of them not looking as nice as they used to.

Breast reduction surgery is a miracle for many people. I'm willing to bet that you've been thinking about it all your life and it sounds like you are ready to address this concern responsibly. Meet with a reputable board certified surgeon and discuss your options. Visit websites with forums dedicated to this sort of thing... you'll get good advice and feedback, as well as insight into how other people have dealt with your same concerns over vanity versus quality of life, etc... This is a useful site I visited frequently before, during and after having my own procedures done.

Good luck!
posted by RoseovSharon at 12:14 PM on October 6, 2006


I'm a guy and I say "go for it" because you'll probably be a heck of a lot happier when the back pain/etc goes away. I dated someone that was in a similar situation (not as small as you, but still had a huge rack) and she had a reduction done. She's a nurse and researched it quite a bit. After the surgery, she reported that "everything felt just fine, and my back has never felt better." She's also sleeping a lot better, too.
posted by drstein at 12:16 PM on October 6, 2006


having a large chest means that you can meet more people, and increase your chances of finding real love. I suspect you even take completely for granted how easily you meet people

Yeah. Those construction workers, they will really love you for you, just as soon as they finish introducing themselves by screaming across the street what they'd like to do to your breasts. For those princes, it's totally worth living with back pain!


I'm 5'8", a 36DD, and at 19 I already have grooves in my shoulders. I wouldn't be willing to put up with any more side effects than that -- I can't imagine having both a smaller frame and a larger chest, like you do. If I were you, I would already be at the doctor asking him about my options. Please don't feel guilty about doing this for yourself to take care of your health and quality of life.
posted by booksandlibretti at 12:16 PM on October 6, 2006


I know a bunch of women who have had reductions, and they all were fine and didn't lose any sensation--it's something about the distribution of fatty tissue i think. They rave about it still--their backs never ache, and they fit in clothes better, they say.
posted by amberglow at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2006


(or about having a good doctor? none of them had their nipples taken off at any point)
posted by amberglow at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2006


Oh and in response to those trying to freak you out about the scarring... it's really not that bad. The scars fade significantly within one to two years... your ongoing back pain and other issues won't.

Most women can still breastfeed and most women don't have the nipple fully removed during the surgery (depending on the surgeon and what needs to done), usually the nipple remains attached durging surgery and only a small amount of your many thousands of milk ducts will be affected.

Someone mentioned dogears as a possible complication. Dogears are not a big deal (it's a small "poof" of skin that can stick up at the end of the scar where the two ends of skin come together) and after you've healed enough the doctor should be able to take care of them in about 5 minutes as an outpatient office visit... if you should happen to develop them (there is no reason to assume you will).

Yeah, of course surgery is a risk. But so is going outside. So is getting in a car. So is having a baby. Some risks are just worth taking, especially if the outcome involves a significantly better quality of life.
posted by RoseovSharon at 12:32 PM on October 6, 2006


Oh, and there's a previous thread about breast reduction.
posted by schroedinger at 12:37 PM on October 6, 2006


[few comments removed, metadiscussion can go to metatalk. xo, your chesty moderator]
posted by jessamyn at 1:03 PM on October 6, 2006


There's always risk with any surgery. Get a custom fitted bra with wide straps, start weight training, and give that six months to a year before you go with surgery.
posted by orthogonality at 1:51 PM on October 6, 2006


Not speaking from experiance, but I've heard scary things about breast reduction. Cutting off and moving the nipple just sends shudders through me. However, I had an aunt who was built similarly to you, and breast reduction helped her with back pain and general happiness.
posted by juliarothbort at 2:05 PM on October 6, 2006


Several of the male comments on breasts have been crass or poorly thought out but there is a valuable message hidden in there. You've only got to look at how much money so many women spend on implants to realize that the percentage of the population that thinks 'attractive' breasts are more important than many other body parts. That's not a personal judgment from me, that's a recognition of the reality of the value men -and- women place on breasts in our culture.

You should definitely give this at least as much thought as someone getting implants should about how it will impact your self-image. Were I in your shoes I have no doubt I'd be pursuing the surgery, but don't set yourself up for buyer's remorse on your body, the one item you're going to be utilizing till the day you die.
posted by phearlez at 2:21 PM on October 6, 2006


There's just as much argument to be made that the importance some (many) place on large breasts is exactly what could be keeping people from noticing anything else about fancypants, and that reducing them would help people pay more attention to who she actually is.

Really, people, women don't need a lecture on the importance of breasts in American society. We know. Really. And it's not an unmitigated good thing. Stop assuming that fancypants is so out of it that she's somehow unaware of these issues. She's likely thought about them more than you have.
posted by occhiblu at 2:26 PM on October 6, 2006 [4 favorites]


An Australian blogger named Rhiannon (goes by Livian online) had a breast reduction recently. She documented it in a journal and has lots of photos of before and after that you can check out. She seems very happy with it. Her blog is called Munted Mess and here is the Breast Reduction Journal that she kept, along with her photo gallery.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 3:10 PM on October 6, 2006


Perhaps it would be refreshing for the poster to meet the kind of people who don't focus on breasts as such an important part "of a woman".

hincadenza, you wrote "It's all well and good to have a nice personality, blah blah blah... but it all depends on having something that draws people in." Plenty of very interesting and very worthy people _are_ drawn in by a fabulous personality. It may take a little longer to perceive, but it's a much better way to find a good friend.
posted by amtho at 3:18 PM on October 6, 2006


I have B-cups, always have, and it hasn't hurt me in the least. I look skinnier than bustier women, because I can easily wear fitted shirts. I've dated, fallen in love, married, and I live a happy life with my husband. I even know women with A-cups (shocking!!) who live happy and satisfying lives. Lots of men have found me cute/attractive over the years. The idea that you'll never find true love or be sexually attractive without jinormous gazongas is idiotic.

I've never dated anyone with a huge breast fetish, but I think that's the only thing missing from my life as a result of not having huge breasts. The women I've known with huge breasts, on the other hand, have lots of problems. Back bain, deformed shoulders, difficulty running. One friend has found that she can't climb certain mountain routes with her boyfriend because she's too busty for the crevices.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:51 PM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


I absolutely say you should talk to a few doctors about the surgery, find one you like and go for it. After you have healed up and its safe to exercise i reccommend also doing some exercises to strengthen your back as well. My sister has always been about 100lbs 5' with a breast size of DD.. sure lots of guys hit on her. Lots of cat calls from the street.. she was even raped. I have always considered myself immeasurably lucky to have small breasts to not have to worry at least about that aspect of how shallow people can be. and there is no way ill ever forget her crying in the evenings because her back was in so much pain.


Scars build character, imperfections are beautiful, and nothing should EVER be more important to yourself then your health and not being in pain.
posted by trishthedish at 6:46 PM on October 6, 2006


I'm a guy, and I'm saying this, not because I'm trying to be a nice guy, but because it's true.

If I'm attracted to you enough when your clothes are on that I want to see you undressed, we're probably good.

It's hard for me to imagine a guy telling an anecdote that ends in 'and then I realized she'd had breast-reduction surgery! I was so outta there!' Not even the crassest, most superficial and banal guy I know.

People have scars. I have them on my knee and lower back. Those scars represent necessary and important surgeries that made my life better. When I see scars on someone else, male or female, I know that the same is probably true of them. People who have scars from surgery often understand something about themselves and their mortality that a lot of others don't, and that's sexy. Finding a scar on someone you're intimate with opens up the possibility of a another whole level of intimacy. Seeing a scar when a shirt comes off is one thing. Reaching a point when you can trace your finger over that scar and look the person in the eye and know the whole story and that they're okay with you knowing the story, and that they feel good about the scar and good about you, that's quite another.
posted by bingo at 6:46 AM on October 7, 2006 [4 favorites]


I'm on the larger end of 34DD here, and it used to give me a fair bit of physical trouble -- not as much as you've got, I'm sure, but still ow. But since I started strengthening my core and my shoulders, I've been trouble-free in that regard. It's been night and day.

Like everybody, I've heard good and bad stories about breast reduction. It sounds pretty reasonable to me at your size, but you might be able to avoid it and still eliminate the pain. I'd recommend that, in addition to talking to your doctor and a surgeon, you talk with some good physical therapists. They should be able to analyze your stance and gait, and give you some very specific direction about strengthening.

In addition to gaining strength, you may need to regain some range of motion in your chest and upper back in order to adopt an optimal posture. A PT can help with that too.
posted by sculpin at 12:00 PM on October 8, 2006


Hrm, that "Breast Reduction Journal" kind of made it sound like she had it done purely for cosmetic reasons. The OP seems to have much much larger breasts and they're causing her medical problems.

Her scars are far worse than what my friend had.

fancypants: go for it! Get consultations from several doctors first, and see if they'll show you before & after photos.
posted by drstein at 12:21 PM on October 9, 2006


Yeah, she did seem to do it for cosmetic reasons. The surgery would be the same sort of thing, though, which is why I posted the link.

Frankly I think she looked more than fine before the surgery. Maybe she had some pain issues - I don't know.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 12:16 PM on October 11, 2006


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