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A new lease on life

A young woman gets breast reduction surgery after suffering for 15 years
  • A young lady who is still contemplating having her breasts reduced. TORRELL GLINTON TNG 2013

  • A young lady who is still contemplating having her breasts reduced displays the groove her bra straps have cut into her shoulder. TORRELL GLINTON TNG 2013

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Jun 11, 2013

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All of her life Tracy Smith (name changed) was a relatively thin person, with one portion of her anatomy she considered to be freakishly out of whack — she had very full breasts. She was one of those late bloomers, but in high school, her breasts ‘just exploded’. She said when people saw her they didn’t see her – they saw her breasts.

At her biggest, Smith wore a 34DDD on a size four to six body. She stood a mere five feet four inches in height, and weighed in at around 125 pounds.

“I was very conscious about it. I found my posture wasn’t very good because I had to slump to compensate for these huge breasts,” said Smith. “Even though I knew men liked the huge breasts, I was not really comfortable because instead of people looking into my face, they were basically talking to my chest. It was not a very comfortable feeling,” said the working professional who has a master’s degree.

Besides the emotional pain she had to endure, Smith’s breasts, which weighed three pounds each, were also a source of physical pain. The weight of the breasts also resulted in medical issues. For years she endured painful back pains due to the weight of the breasts. Because her bras had to hold up so much, they bit into her shoulders — that resulted in deep grooves that did not go away.

Smith suffered, but she knew that she wanted relief. When she heard a friend talking about having breast reduction surgery (also called mammoplasty), she realized that it could be an option for her. She consulted a local doctor who told her that she was a good candidate for breast reduction surgery because the size of her breasts were a lot for her to be carrying around. And she’d already had a child.

Breast reduction surgery is a procedure used to remove excess fat, tissue and skin from the breasts. The surgery alleviates discomfort or to achieve a breast size proportionate to a person’s body. Breast surgery might also help to improve a person’s self-image and self-confidence as well as their ability to participate in physical activities. People considering breast reduction surgery should  consult a plastic surgeon to understand what breast reduction surgery entails, including possible risks and complications.


Breast reduction surgery has the same risks as any other type of major surgery — bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia, according to mayoclinic.com. The website said other possible risks include loss of sensation in the nipples and areolae; loss of the nipples and areolae; scarring; difficulty breast-feeding; asymmetry in size shape, position and contour of the nipples or breasts which might lead to further surgery to improve appearance and allergic reaction to surgical tape or other materials used during or after the procedure. In addition, the risk of poor wound healing after breast reduction seems to be higher for women who have a higher body mass index.

Within six weeks of her consultation, Smith had gone from the consulting stage to having her breasts reduced — and paid for by her insurance. The bill she said would have run her approximately $10,000. If her insurance had not covered the procedure she said she was willing to pay for it, even if she had to get a loan to do so.

At the time of her consultation, Smith was uncertain whether insurance would pay for the surgery.  She applied and was told that it was an elective procedure. Her doctor then made a case to the agency as to the medical reasons why Smith needed to have the breast reduction procedure done. The doctor sent the insurance agency photos showing the grooves in her shoulders. Within a week Smith said she had approval and it was just then a matter of scheduling the surgery.

After years of suffering, Smith is now a comfortable 34C. She had wanted the doctor to take her down to an A cup. (Her sister had been taken down do to a B cup through breast reduction surgery). The doctor could only reduce Knowles to a C cup.

“He can only take you as small as your body allows,” she said.

The petite Smith said her recovery went very well. Initially she could not move her arms higher than a right angle, and needed assistance for about a week. After the initial week she had to wear a special bra for a three-month period, but after that she said she was fine. During her recovery she said she was taken off caffeine — no coffee or tea which has small traces of caffeine, whether decaffeinated or not — for a while because it causes scarring.

New lease on life

Six years after her breast reduction surgery, Smith said she has a new lease on life after suffering for 15 years.

“God I’m so confident! I can now wear my little sexy tops and not look like a slut — and that was how I felt like I looked because it was almost like I drew the attention of men without even wanting it… because you just look so provocative… and I had a little waist,” she said.

With many women opting for breast augmentation to get bigger breasts, Smith said it’s not something that’s attractive to her.

“You always want what you don’t have,” she said. “I don’t get it. It’s not attractive to me, and to me it even looks worse because it looks false. No one’s breasts stand up that upright. I don’t understand why they get augmentation. I can understand maybe somebody with an A cup wanting to get breast augmentation, but these women who go to D and DD cups — oh my goodness gracious me! It makes absolutely no sense. I’m the complete opposite. I’m a woman… maybe for a man it’s attractive, but not for me,” she said.

Smith recently heard a coworker complaining about her breasts and spoke to her and told her that she does not have to complain — that she has options. She told her about what she did. Smith said she doesn’t go around talking about her breast reduction surgery, but if she sees a real need, she does not mind sharing.

“If I’m talking to someone and realize that they feel what I felt, I would share, but I don’t go around announcing to the world that I had my breasts done,” she said.

Who is a candidate?

Breast reduction surgery is meant for women who have large breasts and want to resolve issues such as low-hanging breasts and stretched skin; chronic back, neck and shoulder pain; chronic rash or skin irritation under the breasts; deep grooves in the shoulders from bra strap pressure; poor posture; restricted activity; poor self-image related to large breasts and difficulty fitting into bras and clothing.

Breast reduction surgery can be done at any age, even as a teenager in some cases, but it’s usually best to wait until the breasts are fully developed.

After breast reduction surgery it might take time to get used to the change in appearance.

Successful breast reduction surgery can relieve pain in the upper back, neck and shoulders. It might also increase a person’s ability to participate in physical activities and promote a more healthy self-image.

Although results will be seen immediately, it can take months for the swelling to completely subside and the surgical scars to fade.

The final result is generally permanent — although breast shape and size can change due to factors such as aging and weight gain or loss.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 15:17