(The Rack is a weekly Friday column by musician, fit model, waitress and–finally–former babysitter, Tammy.)
I arrived at my breast reduction consultation with a mix of fear and excitement. I had chosen this doctor from a huge list on my insurance provider’s website, where she stood out from the other doctors for a few important reasons. The first was that she has been performing breast reductions for 20 years. The second was that there was a wealth of information available about my doctor–she’s been featured on Dr. Oz and has dozens of before and after pictures of the surgery available on her website. I was thoroughly impressed with how perfectly shaped and lifted the “after” breasts looked, and after waiting about three weeks for an appointment, I arrived at her office, located in a posh little townhouse on the Upper East Side.
My biggest fear going in was my weight. I’ve put on about 15 pounds in the past couple of years, and while I don’t think I’m terribly overweight, medically speaking I am slightly over my ideal “healthy” weight. I worried that my insurance company might argue that my breast size is weight-related and demand that I lose the extra poundage before attempting to surgically alter my breasts. While I could definitely benefit from losing the weight, I know my breasts aren’t going to budge–they were a 34DD (just one cup size smaller than they are now) when I was 15 years old and weighed 20 pounds less than I do now. With this possibility weighing (ha!) on me, I filled out some forms about my medical history and nervously awaited the doctor’s professional opinion.
When she walked into the room, we talked a bit about my reasons for wanting the reduction–difficulty exercising, breast soreness, skin problems from my bra straps, fit of clothing. She took one look at my small frame and commented that my breasts were definitely “disproportionate.” When I removed my clothes, I was surprised at her reaction. I’m so used to my girlfriends saying I’m “Soooo lucky!”, and the only people who have seen me without a bra are boyfriends, fitting ladies at my favorite bra store, my gynecologist and my mother. Boyfriends are always big fans, the bra fitting ladies are thrilled to find me a great bra, my gynecologist says she’s jealous, and my mom would love me even if I were 300 pounds, so the negative feelings I have about my breast size have always come from inside of me.
The doctor was right there with me. The look on her face was part sadness and part pity. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this, it seemed to say. What she really said was “Wow, they are quite large.” She palpated them, similarly to how the gyno does in a breast exam, and began lifting and pinching to see where she’d be slicing and dicing.
I asked if she thought I’d be a good candidate for the surgery and whether my weight would be an issue for the insurance company. She recommended an orthopedist for me to see for the postural issues I didn’t even realize I had developed. (My shoulders hunch forward slightly. In the past, I had amazing posture, but now it has become difficult to push my shoulders back and down, a strain that was undoubtedly caused by my breast size.)
As for the weight issue, she said that it has nothing to do with my breast size, because my breasts have “very little fat on them.” Very little fat? Breast tissue is made up of glands–not fat. There are fat cells in your breasts, which explains why some women go up and down cup sizes as their weight fluctuates. But not me! The doctor said my breasts are made of dense breast tissue, which is also why they are so heavy. She seemed very positive about the possibility of my insurance covering the costs of surgery.
After a visit to the orthopedist and some x-rays, my next stop is a few physical therapy sessions to teach me some exercises that will help with my postural issues, and then hopefully a green light from the orthopedist. I could have the surgery as soon as May or June!
Triangle bikinis and backless dresses are dancing through my head.