One of my aims this year is to get this blog going a bit more and tell you all a bit more about my life and my breastfeeding journey. This Breast Reduction Story gives you an idea of how I’ve felt about my body and how our problems breastfeeding came about. Please note that this blog contains some **triggers** for child abuse and sexual assault, body issues, drug and alcohol problems, BDD and dysphoria.
I come from two long lines of large chested women and I think I’ve got an older cousin on each side that’s had a breast reduction too. I started being ready for a bra at around 8 years old and when I was 9 I was measured in M&S as being a size 28C. I was thrilled to be grown-up enough to need one but I don’t think I needed the attention I got for having breasts so young. I don’t think any person should be objectified, especially not a child by adults. Perhaps I looked older but it’s going to take a lot of counselling to help me overcome some of the things that happened to me back then. I was 11 when I was assaulted by a neighbour in his car during a hot summer. He felt my breasts and told me what a beautiful woman I was. From that moment on I knew there was something wrong with the way I felt about my breasts.
When I was 14 I was in a serious relationship, totally in love with a toxic person who used to laugh at the way my 34JJ breasts hung. I think from the media and pornogoaphy he’d seen he thought large breasts should be a certain shape and have a certain size areola and have nipples pointing up or forward and be perfectly symmetrical. Almost every teenager has body issues but being bullied for something like that can mess up a person’s entire self image and eroded the foundations of my self respect. At 15 my grandmum died and I felt so horrible about myself I started to take laxitives and became more and more restrictive with what I ate. No matter how little I ate or how thin I got or how hard I rowed I always felt big because I was broad shouldered and large chested. I see photos of myself in that boy’s garden looking thin and pale with a couple of push-up bras and feel awful for that teenager. My boyfriend probably never realised what he was doing to my self-esteem.
Wanting a breast reduction isn’t always about the emotional consequences of having large breasts: it’s usually because those breasts are a pain in the backside! No matter how small my chest was I always needed a large cup. I went through most of the letters and usually skipped a few between measurements, going from E to G, H to a JJ in a few years. Those sorts of bras were only available at M&S and were frumpy. I’ll never wear lace bras on purpose now having been forced to. My mum was a single mum on benefits but she’d save up for months to afford the £60 contraptions. One of them had wide sections of plastic to literally frame the breast and it had holes in it to let the skin breathe. It lasted a few months before the underwires popped out from the strain. My back was in constant pain and I still have the scars on my shoulders where even the thickest straps would dig in and cause bleeding. The whole thing would chafe and sting, and I had to sleep in them or else I’d crush them in my sleep. The sweat where they hung down (even wearing the bra) would cause rashes all the time and the skin on the front of my ribcage is still bumpy and rough. The areolae were the size of oranges. Breasts that were widely spaced and flat and thin at the top that came down almost to my belly button. Nipples pointing to my toes that had no sensation. They hurt all the time and made life uncomfortable
I’m planning another post on what breastfeeding might have been like if I hadn’t had the surgery and why I had it before breastfeeding, but I might have still had issues.
At the age of 13 I read about another teenager having the surgery. I was told I could have the surgery on the NHS but no matter where I went I’d have to have finished growing. When I was 16 I wrote a bullet pointed list for my GP and made the appointment. On the day it was almost shocking that he said he didn’t need to see the list (but let me read it anyway). He agreed to refer me straight away and asked me to find a surgeon. That wasn’t difficult and I found a plastics consultant in Bristol and we met a few months later. I’d done my homework so on the second visit I was put on the waiting list. Sadly, they’ve changed the criteria now and it’s meant to be very tough to get the surgery on the NHS but it’s always worth a try.
The Breast Reduction
I had the operation about four months after my 18th birthday but I was devastated when there were complications. The tissue was dying because there wasn’t blood flow. I went back down to surgery on day two and the sutures were opened; I was left with open wounds for 24 hours. Day three was the third breast reduction surgery but this one wasn’t as neat. There were dog ears (corners where the skin doesn’t match) and each scar was longer. The nipple on the left was pointing in a different direction to that on the right. And the problem wasn’t fixed. At one point I thought I was going to lose my breasts and I became addicted to the painkillers. I was depressed, possibly with PTSD and spent two weeks in hospital crying and talking to the chair.
Leeches and Maggots
My breast tissue necrotised and although it was starting to recover on my right, the left hand side was not improving. After the third surgery they suggested using leeches to improve the blood flow, stumulating capiliaries. The leeches helped the blood flow but I still lost a lot of tissue. They talked about using maggots too but they removed the dead tissue by hand instead. I spent two weeks in hospital then the next month was spent going back and forward to GP’s and A&E and the surgeon with my worried mum. Eventually the necrosis stopped and I began to heal. Six months later they agreed to do a third surgery to try to remove the dog ears and put a skin graft from my labia onto my areola to move my nipple back towards the centre. A few years later I had temporary tattooing to try to draw the nipple back on but it was ridiculously painful even with little sensation.
I have no regrets though and would make the same choice any day. If you’re thinking about having a breast reduction there’s a lot of information out there, this is only my story. To read more of my blogs just follow me below.