From the age of 13, just after I had started my periods, I developed big boobs. I had a petite 5ft 3 inch frame, and while many might have viewed what they saw as an asset, I loathed them. My journey with my breasts was fraught with insecurities, health issues, and self-doubt, and it ultimately led me to a life-changing decision: having a breast reduction at the age of 39.
My struggles with large breasts began early. While my friends seemed to be embracing their changing bodies during their teens, I was trying to hide mine. The emotional turmoil of not fitting into my clothes right, feeling constant discomfort, and attracting unwanted attention was overwhelming. I coped by keeping covered up, wearing thick, ugly bras and using parcel tape to bind my breasts down to appear flatter under tops and dresses. It was a desperate attempt to reduce their prominence and feel more flat-chested. Little did I know that these early experiences were shaping my body image and self-esteem for years to come.
As the years went by, I couldn't help but notice the toll my large breasts were taking on my physical health. I developed upper back, neck, and shoulder pain, especially during and after exercise, which I now realise were directly related to the weight I carried on my chest. The pain was not just physical; it was psychological too. My self-esteem suffered, and although I won't go into this with too much detail, I gradually developed an eating disorder in an attempt to regain control over my body. I worked in the fashion industry in London for over 6 years, and seeing the models with their long limbs and no boobs didn't help at all. I would dream about being able to wear a t-shirt with no bra or even one of those skimpy, lacey ones from Agent Provocateur. I felt like that would never happen. Even when I got down to my lowest weight around age 25 my boobs were still big and out of balance with the rest of my body.
Things really worsened during and after my two pregnancies. My boobs enlarged significantly and became even heavier and more uncomfortable. They didn't seem to settle, even after I had finished breastfeeding and ever since would feel tender, lumpy and enormous. I refused to buy bras bigger than a 32F, but even then bits were popping out all over the place!
As a yoga teacher, the size of my breasts would also be a huge pain and definitely hindered my range of motion. Twists and inversions really hurt because of my chest, despite years of practice, and my balance definitely suffered from being too top heavy. Sometimes I would completely lose my train of thought in a class as I caught sight of my boobs popping out of my sports bra in one of the huge mirrors that surrounded my studio. I felt embarrassed and disgusted simultaneously. It's weird, because breasts are such a feminine feature, but yet they made me feel so unfeminine and matronly.
The Turning Point
For years, I had contemplated the idea of breast reduction surgery but always hesitated. There were many factors holding me back, from concerns about surgery risks to societal pressure to just love and embrace my body as it was. But when I reached the age of 39 and knew that my baby-making days were behind me, I decided it was time to take control and do something for me.
The decision to undergo a breast reduction was not made lightly. I researched the entire internet looking at before and after pics, and reading horror stories of ops gone wrong. I spoke with various doctors and surgeons for advice, and I talked to others who had undergone the procedure to find out first-hand, including my mum who had a reduction age 65. I also started to see a therapist fortnightly to address some of the emotional scars left by years of agonising over my body (among other things!)
In November 2022, I finally went through with the surgery in a hospital in Chester. I had tried not to think about the procedure too much in the weeks running up to it, but that morning I woke and I felt petrified. I nearly changed my mind just before the surgeon arrived, but remember taking a huge breath and visualising what was to come afterwards.
The procedure itself took four hours and was thankfully smooth. I was relieved to be in the hands of a skilled and utterly brilliant surgeon who understood me and my desired result. I stayed in hospital overnight and was looked after so well, but all the time I remember feeling this strange guilt towards the people looking after me. I guess I felt that they mustve thought I was so vain and selfish for making the decision to put my body through this trauma and then expect them to care for me while I was in pain. It was a weird emotion to experience, but having spoken to others since, I think it's a fairly common one with this type of procedure.
The recovery was a journey in itself, marked by pain, sleepless nights, and a whirlwind of emotions. In those initial weeks, I found myself questioning why I had put myself through this ordeal, burdened by guilt for what felt like such a self-indulgent choice. Tears flowed at any given moment, and exhaustion and despondency became my constant companions. I felt bad for my family who had to chauffeur me around and take over the chores for a few weeks and I missed being able to do excercise and yoga for what seemed like forever. But as spring 2023 came into view, something began to change. With each passing day, I felt a glimmer of improvement. Slowly, I mustered the courage to venture out, to shop for bras, swimwear, and tops with spaghetti straps. It was during these moments, as I saw the transformation in my reflection, that the realisation struck me that I had indeed made the right decision. It's weird because my breasts weren't gone. They were still there and weren't exactly tiny, but they were just 'normal' now. No one could say I had big boobs anymore. It was so refreshing. So life changing really once it sunk in.
A New Lease on Life
Having a breast reduction was not just about changing my physical appearance; it was about reclaiming my life and confidence. I no longer feel the need to tape my breasts or hide behind oversized clothing. I still feel self-conscious in swimwear, but so much less than I did before the surgery.
Today, I feel like I can stand a testament to the power of self-acceptance and the importance of making choices that prioritise your physical and mental well-being. My journey with a breast reduction was not an easy one, but it was undeniably life-changing. It taught me that it's never too late to take control of your life and that it's actually okay to make choices that lead to your own happiness and liberation. Its okay to be a little selfish sometimes and people will understand that. If they don't, then they might not care about you as much as you thought they did.
Of course, the idea of surgery and changing your natural body shape is a heated debate and not one that everyone supports, but I hope that by sharing my story, I might inspire others who may be grappling with similar struggles to consider their own path to healing and self-acceptance. My journey may have started with a deep-seated hatred for my large breasts, but it ended with love and appreciation for the body I now have. And, im so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way.