5 Real Women Share Their Honest Experiences With Breast Reduction Surgery

5 Real Women Share Their Honest Experiences With Breast Reduction Surgery featured image
Oleh_Slobodeniuk / Getty Images

Breast reduction surgery is on the rise. According to a 2023 report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), which represents 92 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States, there was a 54 percent increase in breast reduction procedures since 2019, totaling a whopping 71,364 surgeries. Despite these high numbers, many individuals, like those who undergo breast augmentation, often choose to keep their experiences private. And while this desire for privacy is understandable, it can leave prospective breast reduction candidates feeling isolated and uninformed.

Plastic surgeons agree that breast reductions are becoming increasingly popular, even if many people choose to keep them private. “Currently, a natural look and comfort are trending after the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction these last years,” says Houston, TX plastic surgeon Rukmini Rednam, MD. “I believe more women are seeking out breast reductions not only for comfort and symptom relief, but because the current aesthetic has shifted from large, oversized breasts to balance, proportion, and harmony with one’s body.”

Missouri plastic surgeon Deniz Sarhaddi, MD, seconds Dr. Rednam’s perspective. “There has been an increased interest in breast reduction in my practice,” she says, adding that many of her patients have expressed a desire to avoid a top-heavy appearance and to have more wardrobe options, as “large breasts tend to require body-con outfits and tight tops to avoid looking too heavy or obscuring a lean torso and abdomen.”

To promote transparency and education, we spoke to five women who have undergone breast reduction surgery. They shared their personal experiences, insights into why they chose the procedure, what surprised them about it, and whether they wished they had done it sooner. Read on for their stories.

  • Rukmini Rednam, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Houston, TX
  • Deniz Sarhaddi, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Chesterfield, MO

Danielle Gray, 42, style and beauty influencer

What prompted your decision to undergo breast reduction surgery?

“I have this saying, ‘I always knew I could do more with less breast.’ [Laughs.] As I got older, gravity finally got a hold of my breasts, and I decided the time was right. But it took several years before I actually did the surgery. Around 2019, I asked my dermatologist if she knew any good breast reduction surgeons, and she gave me a list of about seven. I lost the list. Then I asked about it again in 2022, and this time, I immediately went through the list, found the person whose work I liked the most and scheduled a consultation. I had my surgery in January 2023.”

How did you feel post-surgery, and were there any significant aspects of the recovery process that stood out to you?

“The pain was insane for the first few days. I was given prescription painkillers, but they also tend to make you constipated. They prescribed constipation meds as well, but it was still a bit uncomfortable. I couldn’t walk at my normal pace for the first week or so. I had intense cabin fever because it was way too cold to go for a walk. My skin also suffered because it tends to get very dry in the winter, and I couldn’t use my normal body moisturizing products; on top of that, the antiseptic cleanser I had to use dried my skin out even more. Also, driving in NYC on our pothole-filled roads after a breast reduction is not for the faint at heart.”

Looking back, is there any advice you wish you had received before undergoing the procedure?

“I got my surgery in the middle of winter, and in hindsight, if I had to do it again, I’d do it early spring: early enough to be healed before summer, but not as cold so my skin isn’t affected as much and the cabin fever won’t be as terrible.

I also recommend looking into doing liposuction of the abdomen and/or back, if possible, while doing surgery. I got lipo on my back during the breast reduction, but I also wish I did my stomach at the same time. I wound up getting lipo in my abdomen, planks and arms later that year.”

Given what you know now, would you have had a breast reduction sooner if you had been aware of the outcomes beforehand? Why or why not?

“I paid for my surgery out of pocket, so I believe I got it at the right time. But if I had the money sooner or if I could get it covered by insurance with the doctor I wanted and the size I wanted, I would have gotten it sooner.”

Tiara Chesmer-Williams, 38, vice president and head of inclusion, diversity & equity at Moet Hennessy

What prompted your decision to undergo breast reduction surgery? 

“What prompted me was having a large chest my entire life. There were a couple of factors that really made my decision clear, one being my back issues because it’s a lot of strain on your back. That constant pain, combined with finding outfits and bras to fit comfortably, was one of the reasons. But the other reason was a bit more non-traditional and stems from working in finance, which is a very male-dominated industry. I just constantly had men staring at my breasts, so it drew a lot of attention. No matter how conservative I dressed, there was no way to hide such a large chest. While that was one part of my reason, I don’t think you should ever reinforce someone else’s stereotypes, especially when it comes to men reacting to your body. It was one of my factors, but not my only.”

How did you feel post-surgery, and were there any significant aspects of the recovery process that stood out to you?

“The thing that I was most scared about was the inability to breastfeed if I got pregnant because that’s a risk and all of those things. But my doctor made the process super easy and explained everything in detail. I always suggest to folks that if you are going to go under the knife for anything, whether it be a breast reduction or something minor, make sure that you write down your questions and bring them with you because you’ll forget at that moment. And a lot of doctors tend to rush you at times. 

The process itself was actually very, very easy, not what I expected it to be. They said that you can’t drive for the first three days; you can’t lift your hands past your shoulders, so you can’t lift them or anything heavy because of the stitching. But I literally drove the next day. The pain was very, very minimal. I didn’t take any pain pills at any point besides over-the-counter. Surprisingly, it was very seamless and easy for me.”

Given what you know now, would you have had a breast reduction sooner if you had been aware of how seamless the process was for you?

“One thousand percent. The other big factor is that my insurance didn’t cover it, so I paid out of pocket, and I obviously had to wait until I had the funds to take care of that.”

Lara Eurdolian, 40, fashion and beauty Expert

What prompted your decision to undergo breast reduction surgery? 

“I developed early—in my early teens—and I’ve just always been uncomfortable with how big my bust is. I was like a double D or like a 32 Triple D, so I wasn’t very big, but I was always thinking about breast reduction surgery. Nothing ever fit; I’ve always had to take in dresses to fit me and buy things like three sizes too big. Being in the fashion industry, I just wanted to wear what I wanted to wear, but this affected my style along with so many different parts of my life. But I didn’t really realize that until I got my reduction.”

When did you decide the time was right to proceed? 

“I decided to wait until I was 40 because I knew I wasn’t having kids. I just felt like I didn’t want to keep waiting, and I felt like I was talked out of it so many times. My whole life, people have been like, ‘People get implants to look like you, you know.'”

I also was very good at hiding them. I’m a stylist as well, so I found ways of making people think I was smaller than I was. And then, finally, working at NewBeauty, I was like, ‘I’m over this; let’s do this.'”

How did you feel post-surgery, and were there any significant aspects of the recovery process that stood out to you?

“Honestly, within like a week, I felt great. I didn’t even really need the pain meds or anything that they prescribed. And in a month, I was traveling kind of back to normal. I like to be very cautious when it comes to my body, but the recovery could not have been easier.”

You recently had the surgery, right?

“I actually had it done twice. The first time, we did the lollipop liposuction [breast reduction technique], but because my breasts are very dense, we weren’t able to get much from the reduction. And funny enough, even though it’s less [intensive], that procedure was a bit of a tougher recovery. I will say the two were very different recoveries, but both were much easier than I had ever anticipated.”

Debbie, 56, teacher and mom of 4

What prompted your decision to undergo breast reduction surgery?

“I had thought about it for a long time. I had four kids, and my body really changed after having them. I felt like, like no matter how much weight I lost, I would never lose it in my breasts. And I became very self-conscious and uncomfortable. I felt like people were always looking at them, and no clothes ever looked right on me.”

How did you feel post-surgery, and were there any significant aspects of the recovery process that stood out to you?

According to my doctor, breast reduction surgery takes up to a year to recover, which surprised me. I didn’t think it was going to be that long. After the first few days, like looking at myself in the mirror, I felt like I made a mistake. I was like, ‘Good god, what did I do to myself?’ because it was very traumatic-looking, like with the bruising and the scarring. It took me aback. My doctor had warned me about that ahead of time, but it was more than what I expected it to be. 

It’s been about three months, and I’m still not back to a hundred percent. I’m still recovering. I think that at the end of the day, I’m tired, and it’s still sore because the scars go off to the side a little bit, and that’s the area that’s most painful. And then, just trying to find a bra that fits comfortably has been a challenge. It’s funny; there are so many mixed opinions. Some people say they had to wear compression bras for up to six months, but my doctor told me I don’t even have to wear a bra, so I think it depends on who you’re talking to.”

Looking back, is there any advice you wish you had received before undergoing the surgery? 

“A friend of mine that I worked with had the surgery done last year, so I talked to her a lot about it before. And she gave a lot of advice, like just about how much time you should take off work [Editor’s note: Debbie took a week and a half off] and what things you can and can’t do. I felt like I was pretty knowledgeable before I even made the appointment.”

Given what you know now, would you have had a breast reduction sooner?

“I definitely would have. If I had done it sooner, it wouldn’t have cost me so much money, either. My insurance covered it, but it would’ve been $1,500 rather than $2,000. I also think the benefits definitely outweigh the recovery. I feel like my clothes already fit better, and I feel better. I’m still a little bigger than I would’ve liked, but according to the doctor, there’s only so much they can take out with the surgery that I had done.”

Celia San Miguel, 45, editor-in-chief of Sicka Than Average

What prompted your decision to undergo breast reduction surgery?

“I was really young when I had breast reduction surgery: 17. I was a late bloomer; I literally had no chest. Then, all of a sudden, when I turned about 15, almost 16, it just went from zero to 60. It was causing me quite a bit of back pain. Around 16, I regularly started to go to a chiropractor and get adjustments, but nothing was doing the trick. At the same time, clothes didn’t fit. I always had to buy bigger-sized tops, and it made me look a lot bigger than I was, which, as a teen, really messed with my confidence

My stepmother was the one who talked to me about it and said, ‘You know, if you could get them reduced, would you be open to that?’ And I was like, ‘Yes. Like, yeah, all day, every day.’ And so she took me to a plastic surgeon, and he was like, ‘Yeah, she’s 100 percent a contender. So once we found out that insurance was going to help me for it, it was pretty much all systems go.”

How did you feel post-surgery, and were there any significant aspects of the recovery process that stood out to you?

“I was very achy. I remember being shocked when I first took off the bandages and looked at my breasts because you see all the yellow and the bruising, and that stays for quite a while. So, it was a little freaky at the time. The other thing is they had to reconstruct my nipple, which was kind of a weird sight in the very beginning. I did heal pretty quickly, partly probably because I was so young. But I was also very good about following the instructions. 

They warned me that I might not be able to breastfeed when I became a mother. At the time, I was like, ‘Who cares?’ because I was 17. But when I did become pregnant, I wasn’t able to breastfeed. There was a part of me that I guess felt like I missed out on that experience, but the reality of my life and the work that I do is that I’m not sure that I would’ve been able to maintain that long-term anyway. I think, more than anything, it was the fact that I didn’t have the option that kind of bummed me out.”

Do you have any advice for those considering breast reduction surgery but are still unsure?

“For starters, figure out your ‘why?’ For me, it was very much dictated by the fact that I had such horrible back pain. If that’s something that you are struggling with and you’ve tried all the stretches, you’ve gone to your chiropractor or your physical therapist, and you’ve done all the things, then, by all means, look for somebody who can perform the surgery because it’s life-changing. My back pain went away completely, so I can’t even fathom the back pain that I would have now if it were that bad when I was 16 years old, now that I’m like 40.”

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