Having plastic surgery in my early twenties wasn’t something I decided to do on a whim. I spent years contemplating whether or not I wanted to actually go under the knife, but I eventually decided to have a breast reduction because I was so self-conscious. Unfortunately, the surgery did nothing to fix that.
- Having plastic surgery didn’t erase the years of harassment. I believe it was my first day of middle school when a boy I didn’t know approached me, stared me right in the chest and said, “You have the biggest boobs in sixth grade.” This unsolicited remark was my introduction to years of unwelcome comments, catcalls, stares, and overall self-consciousness. Having the body of a 25-year-old at age 11 made it difficult to grow up at a normal pace, and over the years I faced harassment I didn’t even realize was harassment until much later in life. Eventually, I learned how to hide my body in a way that ensured my safety. It was a hard lesson to learn and it’s never left me.
- I went into things well-prepared… or so I thought. My type-A personality led to 10+ years of doing as much research as humanly possible before having plastic surgery. Because breast reductions are a fairly common surgery, I was able to hear many first-hand accounts from women who had gone through it. I heard horror stories of botched operations but also heard from women who said their only regret was not doing it sooner. Despite my level of preparation, I never could’ve predicted how I’d feel and how my body would fare after the fact.
- Recovery was no joke. There’s no way to make changing gauze sexy. Needing assistance to use the bathroom was also very unsexy, and I underestimated the toll being under anesthesia for eight hours would have on my body. This is the reality of having invasive cosmetic surgery. I relied on people in a way I hadn’t needed to before, and I cannot stress enough how much the mental and physical support of others made for a much easier recovery.
- Initially, I felt like I lost a part of who I was. I not only physically lost part of myself (~5lbs of straight boob to be exact), I lost the persona that came with having a large chest. People assumed things about my character because of it and I knew people described me to others in terms of how I looked. What I didn’t realize was that this was actually something I found comfort in. When people pay attention to your physical attributes first and foremost, you don’t always have to present yourself as anything else. It was surface level and it was my thing. After having surgery, I suddenly had to figure out who I wanted to be now that I was no longer “that girl with huge boobs.”
- My new body presented a new wave of insecurities. Imagine waking up in a different body. While I previously dreaded dressing myself and things like looking for bathing suits resulted in a significant number of tears, I was used to it. After my surgery, clothes suddenly fit wrong and that made me feel like I was living in someone else’s body. The few pieces of apparel that flattered me pre-surgery now made me look like I was drowning. For months I was constantly adjusting myself, totally insecure about how I looked and how I was carrying myself. I may have improved something I didn’t like about my body, but my overall anxiety about my appearance was as present as ever.
- I found new things to criticize about myself. How often do we actually get to change the one thing we really dislike about ourselves? Almost never. All of a sudden, the one thing that made me really uncomfortable both physically and psychologically was gone. The scars were healing but I noticed myself thinking, “Wow, I really wish my arms were more toned!” and, “My nose doesn’t look so great in profile.” I changed something I’d obsessed over for years, but I’m human and thus innately self-deprecating. Just because I fixed part of my body didn’t mean I was suddenly cured of all insecurities.
- Surgery didn’t stop people from sharing their thoughts on my body. The backlash I faced prior to having my breast reduction was something I understood. People felt it was necessary to tell me that changing my body went against God’s wishes or that I was so lucky to have something so many women pay good money for. However, people are still looking at me up and down, these days to analyze the new goods, and I’m just as self-conscious as I ever was.
- The decision to alter my body doesn’t mean there was something wrong with who I was. The moment I decided to have a breast reduction will forever be drilled into my brain. I saw a photo of myself at a major work event where I looked so disproportionate. I broke down and I knew it was time to talk to someone who could help. My surgeon was an angel that made me feel confident in my decision but also made sure I knew my procedure was cosmetic and not medically pertinent. Sure, I had some back pain and that is now eliminated completely, but really I chose to do this to improve something I didn’t particularly like about my outward appearance and there’s nothing wrong with that.
- I’ve never once regretted my decision. I trusted my gut on this one and truly am thankful for that. Even in those first few post-op days, when I was groggy on painkillers and couldn’t sit up for more than a few minutes at a time, I was glad I’d done it. Apparently as soon as I came out of anesthesia, I told the surgeon that I already felt better. This was obviously hyperbole (or the drugs), but I really did feel instant satisfaction knowing that some of the struggles my body had caused me in the past were long-gone. I was lucky enough to have the time and resources to have plastic surgery and fix what had caused me years of physical and emotional discomfort. It’s not right for everyone, but it certainly was for me.