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Claire was uncomfortable, inside and out. The weight of her F cup breasts caused chronic neck and shoulder pain that physical therapy couldn’t relieve. She felt self-conscious in bold clothing styles and colors, and went out of her way to avoid activities that might draw attention to her chest. The reflection she saw in the mirror felt like a woman she didn’t recognize.

After meeting with Dr. Sharma to discuss breast reduction surgery, Claire confronted a new uncomfortable challenge. She fought to have the procedure covered by insurance, facing a battery of questions and conditions she found overly intimate and impersonal at the same time. She resolved not to let it deter her.

Weeks of negotiation ended with encouraging news: Claire’s surgery would be covered as a medical necessity. For the first time, she felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

LET’S DO THIS

Claire approached the procedure with confidence and composure. She had no reservations about choosing plastic surgery or enjoying both the medical and cosmetic benefits of breast reduction.

“Plastic surgery didn’t have a stigma with me,” she says. “I wanted to do it mainly for medical reasons because I was getting headaches and I couldn’t relieve the pressure on my neck. But the benefits would also be cosmetic. I would feel better in my skin.”

Her husband shared her open-mindedness and expressed full support for her decisions.

“I said, ‘Are you ok if my boobs go away a little bit?’ He said, ‘Whatever makes you happy,’” she recalls, fondness in her voice. “He’s great.”

Claire also had the support of her community. Friends and family volunteered to take turns acting as her caregivers during the early stages of her recovery. With these post-surgical plans in place, and a pre-surgical preparation regimen recommended by Dr. Sharma, Claire felt equipped to handle anything that might lie ahead.

“I was really comfortable. Like, ‘Let’s do this! Let’s cut ‘em off!” she jokes.

Claire was also prepared with a vision of the results she hoped to achieve. She made sure to communicate her goals clearly to Dr. Sharma. “I was good with a C cup,” she says. “I told him, ‘If you’re in surgery and you’re questioning whether to leave in more or take out more, I would rather be smaller than bigger.’”

Her preparation and positive attitude paid off.

“In July of 2019, I had the breast reduction surgery. It went really well.”

ROAD TO RECOVERY

Claire woke from surgery feeling thirsty and constricted by the tight bandages around her chest. Dr. Sharma’s team assured her everything was normal. She was ready to return home and begin recovery.

The careful planning she had done leading up to the surgery quickly proved useful. “I had a lot of help,” she says. “The procedure was a Thursday, so my husband took that day off and then one of my friends came on Friday and Monday.” Two more friends helped with childcare the following Tuesday and Wednesday.

One week out from her procedure, Claire was ready to get active again. “I was sore for a few days, but nothing too bad,” she says. “I was pretty comfortable by the time I went back to work. I only took OTC pain meds if needed.”

The most challenging moment of Claire’s recovery came unexpectedly. It was not the physical discomfort of healing or the unpleasant task of managing surgical drains that rattled the conviction she’d maintained since starting her journey; it was the sobering experience of seeing her breasts unbandaged for the first time.

“I’d Googled it. I knew where all the incisions were going to be,” she says. “But still, seeing it for the first time, it was a lot. There was going to be a lot of scarring.”

Claire took the shock in stride. She shook off her doubts and reminded herself of all she stood to gain from the procedure, attention turned again to the silver lining.

“I was ok with it. I knew the scars would go away, and it would be worth it.”

EXPECTATIONS EXCEEDED

Surgery took Claire’s breast size from an F cup to a C. For the second time, she felt like a weight was gone from her shoulders — this time, literally.

“I feel so much better. Physically, I feel lighter. I don’t have constant tension and pressure on my shoulders and neck. My headaches decreased. I also feel better about myself, body image-wise,” she says. “The surgery exceeded my expectations.”

It also led her down an unexpected path. At her six-month follow-up appointment, Claire mentioned another concern to Dr. Sharma: recurring umbilical hernias.

“I’d had an umbilical hernia fixed in 2018, but another one came back in the same area,” she explains. “Over Christmas of 2019, I got sick and had to cough a lot, and that made it pop out even more.”

An umbilical hernia occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through the opening in the abdominal muscles near the belly button. In adulthood, umbilical hernias are most common in overweight patients and women who have been pregnant. Though they are often harmless, they can become painful or tender, and surgery may be required to prevent complications.

Claire’s hernia did not just affect her appearance. It was painful, and forceful movements like laughing or sneezing could cause it to pop out. She considered her options, and in her typical decisive fashion, reached a firm conclusion: if there was a surgery that could help, she wanted it, and she wanted it done by Dr. Sharma.

Luckily, he had a remedy in mind.

Claire’s Journey to Mommy Makeover (Part 3) coming soon

“Now, when I see myself in the mirror, it feels like what I envisioned myself to look like. I feel comfortable in my own skin for the first time in a really long time.”

The success of her breast reduction surgery inspired Claire to undergo a tummy tuck to address painful recurring umbilical hernias. Though both procedures were primarily driven by medical reasons, the cosmetic “mommy makeover” she got as a result inspired her to recommit to her health and find confidence in her body again.

Part 3 Coming Soon

HELP IS AVAILABLE

Contact our office to schedule a private consultation with Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Sanjay K. Sharma, M.D., F.A.C.S.