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Haley Bartlett

Haley Bartlett is a real estate agent in Colorado.

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My Large Breasts Used to Hold Me Back: How I’m Loving Life After My Breast Reduction

My Large Breasts Used to Hold Me Back: How I’m Loving Life After My Breast Reduction

Having smaller breasts has made my world bigger

Created With Support

When I was a kid, I loved cross country running, but I had to quit in seventh grade because of my large boobs. The pain — and, sadly, embarrassment — took away my enjoyment of running altogether.

As I grew older, it wasn't just missing out on things like running that caused me to become frustrated with my 32H breasts. I experienced back and neck pain that I originally thought was from sleeping wrong or lifting weights. But later, after reading an article about a woman who had a breast reduction, I realized my pain could be because of my breasts.

It was like a lightbulb went off! I decided to go to a plastic surgeon, and she confirmed that my back pain was related to my chest. She told me, "You have dense breast tissue, and your chest is very big for your small frame."

I immediately knew I wanted to get a reduction. I decided from the beginning to be very open about it and immediately told my family in Australia and my friends. Most people commented that they didn't think I looked big-chested. I think it was because I wore bras that would cinch me in so much that they hurt, and I didn't wear tight or low-cut shirts.

Both my mom and my husband weren't surprised with my decision, as they knew my chest size had bothered me for years. They, as well as the rest of my family, were very supportive. My 12-year-old son, who I've always been very open with, said, "It's your body. Do what works for you. Just as long as you're ok."

To be honest, the recovery was harder and longer than I expected. I was 39 years old when I had the surgery, and I'm pretty healthy and fit, so I thought I would heal quickly and just get on with things. My only anxiety was about the anesthesia. After the surgery, I ended up with a few open sores along the incision line caused by stitches popping through, which is apparently pretty normal.

However, I wasn't told about this beforehand, so it was scary for me. The restrictions after surgery were tough. I had to move slowly; I couldn't lift anything or drive. And it took me a good month before I felt like I could get back to my normal life. In the middle of recovery, I wondered what I had done . But it was a short period of feeling bad — now, months out, I feel like it was totally worth the inconvenience.

My surgeon did a great job. I left it up to her to decide the size since she had done so many of these operations before. I just wanted the breasts to fit my frame. I can now go into a clothing store and items will fit. I have no restrictions on what clothes I can buy.

Before the surgery, I wouldn't buy any shirts with buttons as they would pop or gape open. I also couldn't wear turtlenecks or shirts with high necks as my chest would look even bigger than it was. I had to spend a lot of money on bras and swim tops as I would have to order from special places. I couldn't just walk into Target and buy a swimsuit. But now I can. Perhaps best of all: I can finally run again. I went and bought a little sports bra — I no longer need a contraption that is difficult to put on and causes pain when I wear it.

Everyday tasks are also easier. Washing dishes used to give me back pain with all that weight on the front of my body. Now, my back and neck feel 100% better.

I feel so much more confident in myself after having surgery. I didn't realize how much my breasts affected how I felt about my body and how much they interfered with everyday things, such as shopping, working out and housework. I realized my boobs, which hung down to my belly button, made me look bigger than I felt. When I had the reduction, I also had a lift. So now my breasts not only fit my frame but are perky as well! I've had a few people now say, "I didn't realize how big you were. You look so much smaller now. I didn't know you had an athletic body type and such a small frame."

A few women have told me they feel like they want to have a breast reduction, but they don't know if it's worth the money or the recovery time. I talk through my experience and the advantages with them, and I recommend planning ahead. I had to adjust my workload and my home life for a time, but it was time to put myself first. I feel healthier, stronger and more fit. I am very happy!

This resource was created with support from The Allergan Foundation.

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