FOF Joan*, 61, has had “large breasts” her entire life. (Or at least, since puberty.) “When I was younger, it was great,” she says. “I had a phenomenal figure. They were a solid D cup—high and full… the best accessories I could ask for!” But as Joan got older, they started getting… less great. “By my 50s, I was up to a 34 DDD, and I just didn’t like the way they looked any more.” Although Joan’s weight was the same as ever—”I’ve always worn a size 8”—her breasts seemed too large—and saggy. “I had deep grooves in my shoulders from where my bra straps dug in,” she explains. “And I felt self-conscious.”
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Breast reduction and lift performed by Dr. Friedlander.
So when one of Joan’s interior design clients got a breast reduction, Joan peppered her with questions. “She looked fabulous,” Joan says now. So I got her doctor’s card.” She went to see Dr. Friedlander that March, just for a consult. “After two hours in her office, I booked the surgery that day,” she says. Here, Joan talks about her procedure, the aftermath, and what she’d tell other FOFs about breast reduction surgery.
So it only took you two hours to decide to have this surgery?!
Oh, not at all. I had thought about doing since I was about 50. Over 10 years! I waited another year after my client gave me the card. I had never had major surgery in my life, and I thought, is this vain? What if there are complications?
So what changed after you met with Dr. Friedlander?
I just got a good feeling from her right away. I felt like she listened to me. I didn’t want to be small breasted. I’ve always had large breasts and I still wanted them. I just wanted them to fit my size. She understood that.
How was the surgery?
The surgery was easy. It took two hours. I went in a Tuesday morning, went under anesthesia, and she took one pound off of each side of my breasts! I’m still a D, but I’m a smaller D.
Did they have to do an implant? I’ve heard the to get lift you need to get implants as well.
No! Dr. Friedlander uses a technique that actually lifts the breast without an implant. She makes marks a triangle shape at the bottom of each breast and then cuts that tissue out and puts the two sides of the triangle together. So all that extra flesh gets pushed up. You get all that fullness at the top of the breast again. I didn’t completely understand it before I saw the results, but now I do. It’s great…it also gets rid of that extra flesh on the sides—the stuff that sort of spills out of your bra near your armpits.
Breast reduction and lift performed by Dr. Friedlander.
How was the recovery?
Easy. By the afternoon of the surgery, I felt wonderful. I came home and took one pain pill, but it made me feel a little nauseous, so the rest of the time I just took Tylenol. That Saturday—4 days after surgery—I went to a dear friend’s daughter’s bridal shower. I put on a little dress and my post-surgery bra, and drove myself! I never really felt pain… just soreness. It didn’t hurt as much as nursing my kids did!
What did you think of the results?
Oh my God, when I saw them I was giggling like a 16 year old! I was thrilled! I know some FOFs probably think, why bother, are new breasts really important in the whole scheme of things? But I can’t tell you what a difference this has made to the way I feel and look. My whole life, I’ve never before had a blouse I could button across my chest like I do now. I’d always have to buy a size 12 jacket and have everything altered. Now I buy right off the rack. I don’t feel self-conscious about my cleavage anymore. And I don’t have grooves digging into my shoulders and pain in my back…
How have your friends reacted?
Everyone always asks me, how much weight did you lose? It’s not a drastic change, but I look much smaller all over than I did.
What does your husband think?
When I first said I was getting the surgery, he thought I was crazy. He was just like, why take the risk? He worried something would happen to me. But in the end he was totally supportive and he thinks they look beautiful. I’m in a happy, long-term marriage. This decision was really for me….I didn’t even tell my husband when I went for the initial consult. I wanted to think it over completely on my own.
Is there anything else you’d like to get done?
I haven’t had any other work done yet. OK, I did a little Botox! But I’m not unhappy with anything else. Somewhere down the line, perhaps I’d have my eyes done. It has to be just like this, where one day I wake up and I’m just ready. Maybe when I can’t get my makeup on right. It’s not at the top of my wishlist right now.
A note from Dr. Friedlander:
Breast reduction is one of the most gratifying procedures I perform, for both my patients and myself. Upon awakening from surgery there is a tremendous sense of relief, of having a weight lifted off of the shoulders. The most common reason for undergoing breast reduction surgery is to relieve the symptoms caused by the large size of the breasts such as neck pain, back pain, and bra strap grooving which have not responded conservative interventions. When this is the case, surgery may be covered by insurance. The next most common reason is that the breasts have become large and droopy resulting from pregnancy, nursing, weight change and hormonal changes and there is a desire to restore the breast to a smaller perkier size and shape.
All patients are fully evaluated to make sure they are excellent candidates for the surgery. No two women are exactly alike, or have the same needs or goals, so the approach to surgery is fully individualized from the consultation to the surgery to the post operative care.
Breast reduction surgery makes the breasts smaller, and brings them into better proportion with the remainder of the body. This surgery is appropriate for teenagers with overly developed breasts that have stopped growing, as well as for mature women whose breasts have changed over time. In the case of teenagers, it helps to make them feel more comfortable with themselves, not only physically, but psychologically as well.
This procedure removes fat, breast tissue and skin from the breasts making them smaller. It involves elevating the nipple to a better position and tightening loose breast skin and tissue to create a more youthful contour. Incisions are placed around the areola, vertically extending to the fold, and within the fold itself creating an “anchor” or “keyhole” shaped scar. The scars will sometimes vary, depending upon the amount of tissue to be removed. Sometimes the procedure can be performed with a lollipop incision, eliminating the scar that runs along the fold. Rarely, liposuction alone can be used to improve the breast size. Liposuction can also be performed as an adjunct to improve fat deposits along the side of the breast and arms.
There are risks with every surgery. These risks are nonspecific and include scars, bleeding, infection, asymmetry and altered sensibility. It is important that the breasts have stopped growing before the surgery is performed. Women aged 35 and older are advised to have a mammogram within one year of the surgery. Women of child bearing age are advised to postpone the surgery if they intend to nurse.
The surgery is performed as an outpatient. Most women are sore for a few days after the procedure. They are able to return to work approximately 1 week after the surgery, and they must refrain from heavy or strenuous activities for at least 4 weeks after the surgery.
Joan was an excellent candidate for the surgery. It was evident from the moment I met her that she was comfortable with herself, and the prospect of surgery. This is something that she had thought about for many years, and she was ready to move forward. She had become uncomfortable with the restrictions in her life caused by her breasts… the heaviness and pain, the grooves in her shoulders, the wardrobe issues… Joan, like so many women today, was a young vibrant and active 61 year old who knew exactly what she wanted… to look and feel good about herself in all aspects of her life.
Her surgery was designed to restore her breasts to a smaller size without compromizing her shape or fullness. It was successful in all aspects. Her bra size changed from a 36G to a 36D cup. Her initial asymmetry was improved . She returned to all activities shortly after the surgery. This included a trip to Haiti with her sister, a nurse, to provide humanitarian help and resources to many people who remain impoverished after the earthquake.