Part 2 - the journey to finding the right surgeon... in the middle of a global pandemic. To read part 1 of Freya's breast surgery journey, click here.
The decision to undergo breast reduction surgery has been a very long journey for me. Since I was a teenager I’ve known I would eventually have the surgery but have always wanted to breastfeed, I was told to wait till I’d had all my children first. Ironically, mostly by people who weren’t plastic surgeons.
What this meant was a very uncomfortable twenty years.
During my twenties, I extensively researched how to make my boobs smaller. From targeted exercise (none worked) to the too-good-to-be-true option of a liposuction breast reduction (my boobs were mostly tissue and even if some fat were removed, without a lift, it would mean epic sag), I had explored everything.
Knowing that a breast reduction was really my only answer, I put it out of my head until after my daughter was born. The second my milk came in (and it really happened in a split second four days after her birth) my boobs became unbearably heavy and occupied my mind 99% of the time. Breastfeeding was hard but we got into a groove (one bonus of big boobs is you can lie on your back and breastfeed because your boobs flop to the side for your baby! So it’s not all bad) but after a year of copious online shopping, beautifully gifted swimwear and bras from all the best busty businesses going round and STILL not being able to properly fit into anything, I was DONE.
I started researching breast reduction and emailed a few surgeons. The replies I got were disheartening as they didn’t recommend surgery with the knowledge that I wanted to breastfeed again so once more, I let that idea go and another year went by.
As I was finishing up my breastfeeding journey with Rory, I had a strong urge to look into breast reduction once more. It was summer, I was beyond uncomfortable and we had just decided we didn’t want another kid for a few years. This meant living in a body that was almost unbearable for another five years at least and I couldn’t stand that thought so I delved into surgeon research once more. After a lot more investigation, I found a plastic surgeon I felt compelled to email.
The response from his practice manager was similar to the previous responses of waiting until I’d had all my children but with a little glimmer of hope:
… we certainly have assisted ladies in your position who feel they would benefit from surgery before they have finished having children. So it's not off the cards, so to speak if that is your preference.
And with that, I was in.
The day of my consult arrived and I was a ball of nervous excitement! I arrived at my surgeon’s rooms and sat in the waiting area. Through the windows was Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens and the music playing on the speakers was from my favourite film – I took it as a good sign.
The nurse took me to a consulting room and had me put on a hospital gown; she took photos of me and told me the surgeon would be in soon. Sitting in a fancy office half-naked with floor to ceiling windows that I could see out of very clearly (I was assured it was two-way glass) was an experience I won’t forget. You know how your hands sweat when you’re nervous? Try having 2kg baps attached to your chest and see what happens. It’s a river of fun I can tell you.
When my surgeon came in I immediately felt at ease. He’s curly hair reminded me of Gene Wilder and he’s relaxed manner had me laughing and relaxing in no time. We had a chat, and I briefly told him where I was in life – just finished breastfeeding, wanting another child one day but really in need of a breast reduction now. He was so un-phased by all of this, which was such a breath of fresh air I could’ve cried. I was expecting all the reasons why I should wait, instead, I felt very supported and acknowledged. When I asked about breastfeeding he assured me I’d be able to breastfeed post-surgery and although I know there is a small chance I won’t be able to, this was a great comfort.
After making sure we were on the same page I went to another room to chat with the practice manager about the logistics. I have to admit when I found out the cost and how little private health insurance covers; I had to hold back tears.
Something that has angered me a lot in the lead up to surgery was that private health insurance says they’ll cover 100% of the cost of a medically necessary reduction up to what the government determines a breast reduction should cost (confusing right?). And do you want to know how much the Australian government think a breast reduction should cost? $1300. I have no idea who set this price but I’d like to meet the guy (because you can guarantee it was a man) and show him a piece of my mind.
While I could have shopped around and found a cheaper surgeon, I knew this surgeon was one of the best and I couldn’t see past that once I knew his credentials. Plus, I felt comfortable with him and that is incredibly important since I’m paying for him to lop my tits off (may or may not be the technical terminology for a breast reduction).
The advice I would give to anyone searching for the right surgeon is to first and foremost, make sure they are qualified. What I learnt (from my surgeon) is that any old doctor can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon and perform these surgeries but they aren’t trained in the same way often leading to undesired, sometimes life-threatening results. The surgeon you want is called a Specialist Plastic Surgeon. These are the doctors who have trained for years on end to be plastic surgeons, not doctors who’ve done a short course in boob jobbery.
The second piece of advice I would give is to make sure you’re comfortable with your surgeon. For me, having a surgeon who was confident, relaxed and friendly was what worked for me. I didn’t need my surgeon to spend hours chatting me through the procedure; I didn’t feel the need to share all my boob stories: the good, the bad and the ugly and I didn’t need to be lectured about waiting till I’ve finished having kids. I wanted to feel like this was easy and just another day at the office for him (and it is). I wanted to feel like I was not a problem because for so long, my boobs were a problem - Cue flashbacks of me trying to find a bra that actually fit, bra fitters, yelling to each other “WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BRA!!” as my breasts uncontained, injure dozens. I wasn’t lucky enough to discover Brava till I was 32.
If you had told me that when I finally booked in my breast reduction it would be cancelled due to a global pandemic I would’ve had a nervous breakdown and vowed to do the job myself. This is exactly what happened… the cancellation, not the self-inflicted boob job.
The two months following my cancelled surgery looked like this: wine, wine, chocolate, cheese, wine, HEARTBURN, wine? HEARTBURN, no wine, no chocolate, no cheese, sadness, less heartburn, SURGERY DATE!!
I was called late May and offered the 10th of June for my surgery. I was prioritised because of my massive tits and I’ve never been happier to be so well endowed.
The following week was an anxious dance of excitement and a very justified fear of getting corona during my surgery and getting corona boobs (I’m no doctor but I’m 83.5% certain corona can get into your boobs and what then?) but the day finally arrived and mum and I drove into the sunrise towards my destiny.