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Fashion

Cutting Big Breasts to Size

Big breasts
Big breasts are often associated with beauty and this perception often pushes women with disposable money to find ways of enlarging them. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Cosmetic surgery in Kenya — whether it is Botox shots, butt implants or a chin lift — is an industry that is growing.

Take for instance Kenyan women who are reducing their breasts to get a perfect fit of blouse or dress or to sleep and exercise better.

Big breasts are often associated with beauty and this perception often pushes women with disposable money to find ways of enlarging them.

Generally, the larger the breasts, the more likely a woman is perceived as ‘attractive.’ But as the saying goes, “only the wearer knows where shoe pinches.”

Instead of feeling lucky as most people would expect, many women with big breasts suffer in silence.

“This is something that’s very hard for a woman. You go through so much pain, yet not many people understand because they think that you should be celebrating as you have big boobs,” says Naima Hassan, a mother-of-two.

Two bras

Her bra size was a 'HH’ until early this year when she underwent a breast reduction surgery that shrank her bust to size 'C’.

With her previous size, the weight of both her breasts combined was about four kilogrammes.

The 30-year-old told BDLife that before the surgery, her breasts were so heavy to the extent that her back stooped.

Naima also had deep furrows or bra lines caused by straps that dug deep into her skin due to the sheer amount of weight that they were supporting.

“I had to wear two bras every day to be able to support my breasts well. Big size bras were hard to come by. There is only one shop abroad that stocked them. So I would do my shopping there whenever I travelled to Europe,” she says.

Most designer lingerie shops such as Victoria’s Secret and Calvin Klein usually sell bras from 'A’ to 'D’ cup sizes only.

Naima also struggled with sleeping as she had to find a comfortable lying position. And when she had her first child, she had to learn to be alert at all times so as to avoid dozing off while her baby suckled.

“He was such a tiny thing and my breasts were so big and heavy. So, there was the fear of suffocating my son, should the breast end up falling on top of his face and covering it completely as I slept,” she says.

With a small body and large breasts, Naima says that her fashion sense was also off. In as much as she wanted to wear trendy outfits like other women, she had to contend with baggy t-shirts and loose hanging dresses that were not ''feminine enough.’’

“I really didn’t like the way I looked. So this really dealt a huge blow on my self-esteem,” she says.

People stare

Worse still, she said that the breasts seemed to have become a huge part of her identity as they were out of proportion from the rest of the body parts.

She was tired of people staring at her 'boobs’.

“When you walk into a room or interact with someone. They see your breasts first before talking to you or seeing your face. Yet, you want people to know you for who you are, and not because of your big boobs.”

In an attempt to solve the problem, Naima hit the gym and adhered to a strict fitness regime in the hope of losing weight or fat in the breasts hence making them smaller. However, the approach was unsuccessful.

“I realised that I was losing weight in other parts and becoming slimmer but my boobs were pretty much the same. That’s when I sought a permanent solution the problem.”

Her husband

She had researched online about breast reduction surgery but she was sceptical.

“I kept thinking that I could die or that something would go wrong and make me end up with much worse breasts,” she says, adding when she woke up in the hospital bed after the three-hour surgery, her husband was there smiling and holding her hand.

“A heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulder literally. It was unbelievable. I remember touching my chest in panic just to confirm that my breasts still existed and had not been accidentally chopped off! It was all so surreal.”

According to Naima, the surgery changed her life completely, enabling her to savour and experience life pleasures in a way she never thought possible.

“Now I go to Victoria’s Secret and get my bra size like other normal women! My body fits nicely into trendy clothes and I can shop in different outlets because my sizes are everywhere,” she said.

Painful rashes

Other adverse effects linked to large breasts include neck pain that may be caused by slipped disks in the neck region, as well as multiple stretch marks resulting from the 'wear’ and 'tear’ that the skin on the breast goes through as it struggles to support the heavy weight.

People also suffer from painful rashes resulting from the moist environment beneath the breasts, which are usually large enough to rest against the skin on the chest.

Affected women also find it difficult to exercise well or perform daily activities — like bending down or lifting things up — due to the heavy weight hanging on their chest.

They also stay away from sports like swimming to hide their 'shame’ and avert 'strange’ stares in changing rooms from women with normal breast sizes.

Dr Tilman Stasch, a plastic surgeon at Valentis Clinic in Nairobi that specialises in cosmetic medicine, plastic surgery and advanced skin care says that many women often opt for the breast reduction surgery as a last resort, when they have tried everything else and failed to find relief. He adds that breast reduction is a medical procedure done to alleviate lifestyle challenges and health complications.

“Based on my own experience, here and even in the UK where I previously worked, over 90 per cent of women that request for this operation are usually driven by the desire to find a solution to their discomfort and not necessarily because they want to look physically attractive to other people.”

According to Dr Stasch, who also performed Naima’s operation, after the surgery, the breasts will never go back to their original size.

''The breasts may sag or become fuller depending on whether you lose or gain weight. But the size will pretty much be the same,” he says.

Ann Cherop, another woman who has reduced her breasts says women should not fear the surgery.

“Don’t worry about what others will think. Just do your research well and ask the doctor as many questions as possible so you can go in prepared.”

Belongs to God

Sometimes, women shy away from the surgery due to either cultural or religious constraints (such as the belief that the human body belongs to God and should never be altered in any way).

Similarly, they may object to it for fear of ridicule.

This stigma often arises from negative attitudes linked to cosmetic plastic surgery that depict women who undergo it as vain, and in search of fake or artificial beauty instead of being content with their natural selves.

“I am a Muslim and my religion is against it. But I did it anyway,” says Naima.

The procedure, which costs about Sh1 million in Kenya, can be offered to any woman above the age of 18.

However, doctors need to first assess them to determine if they really require the surgery.

“In some people, the large breasts maybe just be as a result of weight gain. So all they need to do is lose weight,” said Dr Stasch.

He added that the surgery causes minimal scars, the sensation remains and a woman can breastfeed afterwards.

After the surgery, patients usually stay in the hospital for one or two nights.

Tape dressings are applied to stabilise the breasts while a small drain (plastic tube attached to a suction bottle) is placed to drain excess fluid and blood from each breast. The drain is usually removed after two to three days.

In addition, patients are fitted with a special compression bra (to be worn for at least 12 weeks) which gently supports the breasts to ensure that their shape remains intact during the healing process that takes about six months.

“But you will be mobile from day one and should be back to performing full exercises after just six weeks,” Dr Stasch says.

He stated that most people usually have approximately one to two weeks off work following a breast reduction procedure.

“However, it is important to avoid any strenuous activities which can cause stretching to the incisions and disturbance of the new shape.”

As the skin heals due to the reduced breast size, stretch marks usually begin to fade and become less visible. To hasten the process, patients can massage the breasts with bio-oil and cocoa butter.

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