My 57 Year Old Breasts

November 17, 2010

One of my patients wrote this, so I’m posting it as a guest blog. Thank you, Gail.

Here’s to the journey:

If you wait long enough you surely lose your motivation. Or do you? For thirty-seven years I waited to ‘fix’ the breasts I lost in pregnancy. Now that I’m fifty-seven years old; it hardly seems worth it. After all, I am gray, getting wrinkled, and feeling a bit creaky in my joints. Why on earth would I need to get breast implants? On the other hand, I do seem to bring it up a lot – the fact that I used to have gorgeous breasts and I miss having them. Every woman I’ve had more than a few conversations with has heard my sad refrain. I was humiliated when my two teenage daughters (daughters are so kind to their moms), made fun of my breasts, even as theirs were developing perfectly. They named theirs, as they were developing, peanuts for the younger one and watermelons for my eldest. I was sneakers, as in old and worn-out, and I was only in my mid-thirties at the time. A few short months ago, my eldest, now in her mid-thirties snapped at me, “You have been talking about the breasts you used to have since I was born. Either do something about it or Shut Up!”

And so I did – something about it. I knew I couldn’t ever shut up about something that had bothered me for so long, so I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon to see about my breasts for the fourth time in over thirty years. This time I signed on the dotted line. Thirty-eight years ago I gave birth to the first of my two daughters. I was nineteen and totally naïve. Young, athletic and thin, none of my friends had trod down this pregnancy path before me so I knew nothing and my mom kept mum, for some unknown reason. I was idealistic and head-strong and although my husband was still in college, I was ready for my babies.

My breasts nearly exploded during my pregnancy, from a firm 34-C to a gigantic 36-DD plus. I borrowed my mom’s bras during my pregnancy because I couldn’t afford new ones and I came out the top of her 36-DD’s. My husband’s college buddies called me ‘tits-on-a-stick”. I nursed my newborn daughter and slept on a pile of towels to absorb the extra milk. My doctor said I could have been a wet nurse, in the old days, I was so prolific. Once I stopped nursing my breasts went down, down, down to barely fill out a B cup. My husband, now my ex, looked at me and said, “What do we do now”. I burst into tears and have never forgotten.

When I was 27 I divorced the father of my children and went to work, finished my education, and raised my children, as a very single parent; no help, no child support. We were very young and I made a decision, not to save for retirement nor spend significant sums of money on myself. There was time for that when I got older, once my children left home and finished college.

But my sagging breasts nagged at me. In a gym locker room over twenty years ago I noticed a woman, older than myself, with the most gorgeous, perky breasts, just like the ones I had for about 4 years (easy come, easy go, I thought). “Can I say something personal”, I asked, embarrassed to be looking at a naked stranger. “You have the most gorgeous breasts.” “They aren’t my original ones”, she said. ”I was too flat so I did something about it. Beautiful, aren’t they?” Happy for her, but envious, the image remains in my mind to this day.

At thirty-three I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon in Massachusetts. “You are a classic”, he said. “You lost a significant amount of breast tissue during children-bearing and now you sag”. At that time, the potential side effects scared me. I could have problems as I got older. Anyhow I couldn’t afford it. And then, yet again, in my forties, I visited a plastic surgeon in Maryland who wanted to give me very large breasts. I ran. Like Goldilocks, I was looking for the perfect situation.

I am now semi-retired, in other words, I took a pay cut to work a less stressful job to live in my dream location – Santa Fe, New Mexico. I can’t afford to pay my mortgage so I have a roommate. One of my roommates had to get emergency plastic surgery for a cut on her forehead. She just loved her surgeon, a Dr. Daniel Ronel. And once, again – having waited another fifteen years, I decided to get a free consultation. But this time, the stars had aligned. My warm, talkative surgeon (who used to be a Pediatrician and has that compassionate character) said that I looked terrific, but that I could be much more. He complimented my fit and trim body, given my advanced age, of course. And then … he had a cancellation. Could I come back in 5 days? Could I take three days off of work? It was now or never. When would I ever do this if not now? When I am over 60? If I decided No, then it was No, in this life anyway. I said “yes”.

Then, the beginning of a long internal conversation. I am nearly fifty-eight and I have been lucky enough to have kept myself in shape. I have long ago accepted my physical flaws and the aging of my skin. I now have arthritis, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. I am also a proud grandma. My boyfriend of ten years says he likes my breasts just the way they are. And I still can’t afford this. This will add to my already burgeoning credit card. Now or never. Now or never. A young single mom, in her twenties, works at the surgeon’s as a secretary. She did it, for the same reason and she couldn’t afford it either. My own daughter, now a surgeon, had her breasts reduced when she was twenty and she just took out a loan. I have been conservative with money all my life.

I go for it. I am now one month post-surgery. It is surgery and it has been painful. I am over the initial pain and I now have the breasts that I once had, well as nearly as I can recall. One part of my body is not only unwrinkled, but is exceptionally beautiful. My boyfriend called me ‘luscious’ — now that’s a word I haven’t heard in along time. My sarcastic self calls them my ‘bionic boobs’ as they will surely survive me and my soon to get old body. My daughters will make fun of me and I am anxious about telling my daughter who has two children of her own that I have breasts that are perkier than hers. But I am back to a small 34-C, exactly what I asked for. I consider it a ‘reconstruction’ more than an enhancement. I got back what I lost. My surgeon is a miracle-maker.

I am just now beginning to buy some low cut blouses and show off my new-found youth. I am proud to have given myself this gift. It’s a new start, yet again.

By Gail Rae

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2 Responses to “My 57 Year Old Breasts”

  1. Karen said

    one day soon, without all the drama at home i willget this done

  2. Monika Perlstein said

    What a beautiful, touching story! Thank you so much, Gail Rae, for being so courageous and sharing your intimate journey with us. You are an inspiration and there are so many women out there that would benefit from your sharing. Don’t stop!

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