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  • Writer's pictureMeg

My breast reduction in 2014 was the best decision I ever made

My breast reduction journey in Canada: from research to results



Research


The internet in 2014 wasn't as populated as it is now. When I was researching breast reductions, I could hardly find anything. Now, stories about people making the chop flood the internet. Part of me thinks no one needs to hear my story. Another part of me, the part that needed information 10 years ago, would have appreciated another perspective. So I've decided I will write about my experience. Here we go.


Like many people, I spent the majority of my adolescence hiding my body. I think we can all agree that puberty is one of the most uncomfortable times in our lives. My chest started budding when I was in the fourth grade. I remember being so excited to get my first training bra, which I picked out with my mom in a LaSenza Girl (do those still exist?).


As time went on I cycled through bras like shoes, each year needing a bigger size to account for growth. By the time I reached ninth grade, I was a 30DD. I hoped they would stop growing since a DD is manageable (although not ideal).


Gym class was always a nightmare since having a large chest made running uncomfortable. Having them rebound violently in front of my peers, many of whom were boys with lingering eyes and no consequences for their actions, made exercise feel more like a punishment than a part of a healthy lifestyle. At one point I read that losing weight could affect breast weight. A lot of women reported their breast fat is the first to go. So, since I couldn't exercise comfortably at school or do any sort of cardio without having to hold my chest with my hands, I began restricting my eating and working out at home. I went on cleanses and did pilates in the basement. I wore baggy shirts with high necklines. Then I got a boyfriend.


Having a boyfriend meant my huge knockers were a benefit to someone. This made me feel good for a while until it didn't. I felt worthy until I refused to give access to my body, then I got called a ‘cock-tease’ at the tender age of 14. I was learning to hate my body and the assumptions that came with it. When I turned 16, and they kept growing, I started considering surgery. I was too young, but it sparked hope for a better future. When I turned 18 I went to England for a band camp trip (euphonium ftw) and set foot in my first specialty bra store. They sized me and I bought my first bra that fit since I ventured past standard sizes. Lo and behold I was a 30H. Who even knew the cup sizes were so deep into the alphabet?


At age 20 I was ready to pull the trigger.


I had done so much research on the internet, looking for stories about what the process was like. I found a bunch of before and after photos on surgeons' websites, but no information about the process. Then I turned to Tumblr, and read a post about a woman's experience. I must have read that woman’s post 50 times over. I wanted to feel prepared, but there wasn't enough information on the topic. Most of the information I found was of women who were over 40 and had kids. I still didn't know what to do or how to get the surgery, so I started by asking my doctor.


Consultation


I was attending UBC at the time and didn't have a family doctor. I made an appointment with the school doctor, and got in within the year, which is relatively quick in Canada. I asked her if I could get a referral and she gave it to me. I do want to say, that it’s not always this easy. She could see I was uncomfortable in my body, and when I told her I suffered from back pain since I was 14 she seemed to sympathize. She gave me the referral, and I didn't have to go far since the surgeon was at UBC Hospital.


Imagine my excitement when I learned my surgeon's name was Ashley Tregaskis. A woman would be my surgeon! When I got to the room for the consultation I felt nervous but proud of myself.


A man entered the room in a white lab coat. I waited for a woman to follow him but he shut the door tight behind him. “I’m Dr. Ashley Tregaskis, nice to meet you,” he said.


I guess I forgot that Ashley was a common male name since my middle name is Ashley. I felt my hands get sweaty.


He asked a few questions about my physical health: how much pain was I in? Did I have body dysmorphia? What have I done to mediate the problem? I answered easily: A lot, yes, everything. Then he asked me to take off my shirt and I did. He examined my situation and told me to put my shirt back on. He said he would do the surgery. Success!


I asked if I could go down to a B cup, or if needed a C cup, and he said it would be possible. He told me the risks, which were familiar after my extensive research. He added one at the end: When I had a baby in the future, there was a fifty percent chance I would be able to breastfeed. He continued to tell me that if I got pregnant my breasts would grow with pregnancy and not reduce after birth.


Babies? At 20 years old they were the last thing on my mind. I didn't blink at the information and booked the surgery for the upcoming Christmas break. I’d be on break at school, and I planned on asking my boss for time off of work. If he didn't want to give it to me, I would quit. That’s how much I wanted this surgery. Oh also, because my case was considered medically necessary, the Canadian government covered the cost and it was free for me.


In the following months, I could hardly contain my excitement. To think I’d be able to wear those sleeveless shirts and not feel like I was asking for attention. My boobs would no longer dominate my appearance. Maybe people would take me seriously. The possibilities were endless.


Surgery


I was nervous on the day because the surgery was late enough in the day that I had a lot of time to be nervous about it. I’d never been under anesthesia before, and the thought of it freaked me out. What if I woke up during it? What if I never woke up? What if I could feel the surgery? As a redhead, numbing has always been a challenge for me, especially at the dentist's. It always garnered surprise when they needed to inject thrice as much novocaine for me to numb. Tattoo-numbing creams last about 10 minutes on me. I’m not bitter at all.


Anyways, I got prepped for surgery, which means putting on a hospital gown and a hair cap. They poked me with IVs and introduced me to the anesthesiologist. My surgeon came in, drew on my chest with a big marker, and let me know it was time. As a last-minute reassurance I told him, “I’d like them to be a B or a C if possible please.” And you know what Ashley Tregaskiss said to me? He said: “I’ll make them proportionate to your body,” and then he left. The anesthesiologist told me she was putting the sleepy stuff in my IV and asked me to count backwards from ten. I tried to count past seven but then everything went black. In the next minute, I woke up in a hospital bed.


It took me a second to be able to move any of my limbs. It felt like there was a heavy weight on my chest preventing me from sitting up. I couldn’t talk yet, so I made grunting noises which summoned my mother. She soothed me enough to lay back down. I squeezed my hands together and flexed my toes and I brought myself into my body again. The confusion started to fade away as I realized where I was and what happened. I felt my chest with my hand and it felt too big, swollen and wrapped in gauze and bandages, so I decided not to panic yet.



Recovery


My mom took me home and helped me while I recovered. I couldn’t lift my hands above my head, so washing my hair would have been a struggle without her. I had to sleep sitting up, which would normally be hard, but since they had me on Oxycontin I fell asleep with ease.


I’m unsure where anyone would learn this (I don't remember it being in the D.A.R.E. program at school), but since I've lived a rather privileged life, I’ve never felt the need to turn to opioids. I didn't know how much it messes with your digestive system. Prune juice, smooth move tea, laxatives. That was my diet after day 4 of no movement. Don’t mess with opioids, kids.


Anyways the healing process went well. I slept for the first few days, still recovering from the


anesthesia. Once the swelling and pain went down it was a lot more manageable. One thing I can’t remember is whether the surgeon told me about my scars before or after the surgery. But apparently, since I was still young and my breasts had a decent shape, he wouldn't have to do the full anchor incision. He was able to do a ‘keyhole' incision, which is the vertical cut without the horizontal one. So healing was faster in my case than the typical surgery involving the anchor cut. I did not have drainage tubes and the stitches were dissolvable. I had the surgery in mid-December and was back at work in late January.


A woman with orange hair sitting on the wall of a boat dock
Meg during a famous photoshoot with her sister in 2018

Result


One thing I wasn't prepared for, was that they almost remove the nipple during the surgery. They rotate it to attach at a higher point since they remove the fat from the bottom of the breast. So if you had nipple piercings before the surgery, or scars from them in my case, these scars will be on different angles afterwards. One of my favourite things to tell people is that my piercing scars are now on a diagonal.


Then there are the surgery scars. I turned to geranium essential oil diluted in coconut oil daily. Today my scars are visible, but nearly the same colour as my skin. I think they look cool and they don't bother me at all.


In the end, I figured out what Ashley meant by 'proportionate'. He believed my frame would look 'disproportionate' with a B or C cup, so this guy decided to give me DDs again. In all fairness, if my ribcage was larger I'm sure I'd be a C cup, but since the cup size correlates with the band size and I'm still a 30 band, the cup had to be larger. I was pretty bitter when I was finally able to try on bras again because of course my one request wasn't taken into consideration for the result of my own body. I used to blame it on Ashley being a man, but since I'm not sure if the result would have been different had my surgeon been a woman, it's probably not fair for me to blame it on gender. After that, I realized I could finally wear a sports bra. No more mono-boob. No more underwire. Fashion doesn't always accommodate women with breasts, but I found things that worked for me. Ultimately, the fact that I could even find things that worked for me meant that there was a significant difference in size which made it all worth it for me.


I made friends with my body for the first time in my life. If I hadn't done it, I'm sure I would have found a way to cope, but in the end, I built trust in myself by doing something I knew I wanted without considering how anyone else would feel about it. This is my body, and it's my choice to make it feel like home in whatever way I please. If you are considering getting a reduction, I highly recommend it. It was the best decision I ever made. Maybe it'll be yours too.


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