Why I got a boob job after my mastectomy
“Please tell me one more time about how my boob job after mastectomy was cosmetic surgery?” | ©Garrincha / Adobe Stock
Why I got a boob job after my mastectomy
The reason I got a boob job after my mastectomy was not about you and it had nothing to do with getting “sexy perky breasts.”
I had big boobs. The kind that drew attention and required serious bras to contain. I used to make light of my cleavage and would frequently remind my friends that my boobs were “just blobs of fat” and that they were on a continuous downward path. When someone complimented me on them, I would say, “Thank you! I grew them myself.” I thought they were an amusing and somewhat helpful asset to have.
Let me tell you why I got a boob job after my mastectomy
Before I explain why I got a boob job after my mastectomy, we need to talk about boobs. Yes, I know they are called breasts. And I know some people prefer to call them breasts, not boobs or heaven forbid tits! But growing up, it was the most common nickname in my family for breasts, and as a grown woman with large boobs, it was the term I preferred. Any questions?
Moving on. So when I heard the dreaded words from my doctor, “tissue changes,” “breast cancer,” “mastectomy,” and “mastectomy reconstruction,” nothing about my boobs seemed funny anymore. My somewhat self-deprecating boob humor began to wane. My humor waned even more as I went through the biopsy, the lumpectomy, and the double mastectomy.
Although I could still find some mastectomy humor, cracking a reconstruction joke or two about “growing new boobs” and dropping into the doctor’s office for a fill-up. I even asked my women friends to help me decide on a size. Should I go back to the DDs or go with a more modest dimension?
I got through the boob job after my mastectomy and even had nipples created and tattooed. My new boobs looked okay in clothes, but I knew they had “seams” that made me look like a cheaply molded Barbie doll. The hair that used to grow around my nipples was now located in a southern clime, and I had minimal feeling in my solid bumps. Still, I was alive and well and didn’t need a bra anymore. My boobs just did not move. To this day, I will demonstrate this fact by jumping up and down for my companions.
My boob job after my mastectomy was about me
One particular male friend had always been fascinated by my boobs and felt free to comment on them. Before my mastectomy, I would usually brush such comments off with a witty remark of my own. But one day, a few months after my mastectomy, we went out for pizza. As we were eating them, he decided to make me feel better about my post-cancer situation by saying, “Your new boobs look better than your old ones. You have such sexy perky breasts. Very sexy indeed.”
I looked at him stunned and angry – in actual shock – and I usually have thick skin. I could not fathom why he thought his remark was comforting or even amusing. My boobs were gone; something that was a part of my sexuality, my womanhood, had been lopped off. And he thought that somehow having “sexy perky breasts” made everything okay. Getting a boob job after my mastectomy was not about me looking sexy.I wanted to slap him or, at the very least, pour a cup of water on his head.
Instead, I stayed calm. I realized he genuinely thought I’d had a simple boob job. After all, he knew I’d had implants, so how was that different than some woman who wanted to take her Bs to Ds or vice-versa? So I decided to educate him and anyone else who was listening about what it meant to have a boob job after mastectomy. Thus began the uncomfortable conversation.
My boob job after mastectomy was about me – not you
I explained to him that a breast reconstruction after mastectomy was nothing at all like a boob job in the way he imagined it to be. First, all my breast tissue had been removed, which definitely doesn’t happen in an enhancement. Nothing was cushioning my implants. They did not feel normal to me or to anyone who touched them.
Since my cancer had been too close to my nipples, I couldn’t safely keep them. Sure, I had nipples created so they’d mimic the look of a natural breast through clothing, but when they were naked? Obviously fake. The tattooed areolas were a nice touch, but they were a little like using wood-patterned wallpaper in your study: no one was going to mistake them for the real thing.
Read more: What to say to a coworker who has cancer?
Worse than that, my boobs were totally numb at that point, although I regained some feeling as the years went by. While some women who get boob jobs for reasons unrelated to a mastectomy may lose some feeling, they aren’t having their nerve endings severed. If a sexual partner wanted to “go there,” fine, but it didn’t do anything for me at all. I did admire my boyfriend’s persistence in the matter, however. He would give it the old college try to prove to me my boobs weren’t an issue for him.
Nothing about a boob job after mastectomy was sexy for me
Finally, I told my friend that breast reconstruction was not sexy. Nothing about the process was meant to be a turn-on for a guy. It is a very personal decision people make after they have had a mastectomy. Some want one, some can’t, and some can, but choose not to.
I think some men get confused at this point because they believe women get plastic surgery to please them – which is another subject that needs exploring. My decision to have reconstruction was about how I would live in my new body. I thought a “boob job” would help me adjust to my loss. I never, ever thought they were a trade-in for “sexy perky breasts.”
And even if these gravity-defying models looked great in a tight sweater, they were certainly not an upgrade. Believe me, I would take my sagging, too-large boobs back in a minute if I could. They were my flesh, my buddies, my annoyances. Mine.
Unfortunately, I don’t think he ever got it. If my boobs looked good to the casual observer, he figured I’d come out all right. I was healthy and had a decent rack and was clearly over-reacting to a compliment. But to be fair, he didn’t know what losing a body part was like.
His praising my new improved models made me feel misunderstood entirely. He would have made me feel better by complimenting my spirit, my attitude, or my mastectomy humor. Admiring my perky silicone? Not the way to go.
Jessica White, the author of "Why I got a boob job after my mastectomy," describes herself as a "very private person," which is why she uses a pseudonym. Jessica lives in Delray Beach, Florida