HIM: A couple weeks ago, a Twitter friend put out a post seeking advice. Along with a picture of her frankly already beautiful breasts, she said that she was going for enhancement surgery and asked for suggestions regarding size. Someone we happen to admire said “whatever size you think is best, go 25cc’s bigger,” and several people echoed the sentiment. We were in shock, though we shouldn’t have been. Why is it that people always think bigger is better? Whatever happened to less is more?
HER: I had thought about breast augmentation many times over the years. I know there are women like our online friend who have c-cups that they want improved, but my situation was different. I was the scrawny kid who didn’t get her period until she was 14, dreaded bikini shopping, and was the subject of ridicule by boys until I started wearing padded bras to fill out my clothes. I had a flat, boyish chest with cute, girly nipples. Until I breastfed my two kids, that is. Then I had a flat chest with nipples that were droopy when they weren’t stimulated. It was very depressing. I had worked hard at the gym for twenty years and kept the rest of my body in shape, but there was nothing I could do about this. I honestly felt like someone who had a cosmetic birth defect — like a missing earlobe or a skin discolouration. It wasn’t a health problem, but it was something I wanted to hide and I found myself making apologetic confessions about it before I took my clothes off with a new lover. I didn’t want him to remove my padded bra for the first time and feel mislead.
I had looked into surgery when I was with my ex husband. The over $8,000 price tag was prohibitively expensive, so we opted not to do it. In retrospect, I’m glad we couldn’t afford it. With him, I would have been looking to augment my self-esteem, which he frequently tore down. That’s never a good reason to do something drastic, because it wouldn’t solve the real problem. Then you came along. When we discussed the subject a year and a half into our relationship, I felt like I was in a much better place. I had reclaimed my confidence by leaving my ex, and you obviously found me sexy — flat chest and all. I had taken two body-affirming trips to Hedonism and was accepting that, while I may not have much to offer in the chest department, I brought a lot of sexy skills to the table. I even started buying bras without padding! So when you offered to finance the surgery if I still wanted it, I finally felt like this would be for me, not for the man in my life or to make up for a deeper insecurity. And I felt like you would be more a partner in this process than a judge. (Unlike my ex, who said, “I finally realize how shallow you are,” when he found out.)
HIM: I’m glad you let me be a part of it. I love taking on any new project with you. Right from the start, I was grateful that we were coming from the same place. The worst boob jobs in my mind, the ones that cause the most negative sentiment in popular culture, are the ones that are just too big. It’s not like big is bad – big breasts look amazing on some women – but it shouldn’t be the automatic choice for everyone.
HER: I know. We’ve definitely seen them: ones where the skin is stretched taut (or stretch-marked), or where the proportions make no sense with the rest of the woman’s body. It really was the lesson of all the badly overdone boob jobs we saw on nude beaches that made me insist that I was not going any bigger than a C-cup. Yet the first two surgeons we met with – two of the most expensive doctors in Toronto – both said I should go bigger. They insisted that, with my height (5′ 9″), I’d be disappointed if I didn’t go for at least a D. They were quick to point out that their number one patient complaint was going too small.
HIM: It doesn’t surprise me that people are that way. So many individuals who go to tanning salons can’t seem to stop with just a bit of extra colour, but have to keep baking themselves until they are an unnatural shade of Trumpian orange. You see it with body builders, too, who go from being scrawny guys that women don’t want to touch to comic book monsters…who women also don’t want to touch. It’s very hard for human beings to be objective about themselves, to get to the point where they say enough is enough.
HER: Sure, but you would expect doctors to be the voice of reason in the whole process. They are the professionals, and they’re the ones who should be familiar with what works and what doesn’t. Anyway, I resisted the siren song of ‘bigger is better’, and kept searching until I found a surgeon who didn’t apply any pressure. Dr. Robert Backstein was ultimately the one who confirmed that the 300cc size I wanted would make my bust and hip measurement almost exactly equal. We went with him.
The next decisions to make were silicon versus saline, and where to make the cut. I had seen enough side-boob ripples to know that I did NOT want saline (yes, that’s possible even when the implant is under the muscle). Although it was a little more expensive, the soft ‘gummy-bear’ silicon gel implants, with the lifetime warranty, were an easy choice. No possibility of ripples; no repeat surgeries. As for the incision point, I had hoped to have the implant inserted through the armpit to keep the scars hidden. Dr. Backstein said he would do it that way if I preferred, but his experience told him that the risk of infection was greater, given the increased bacteria in the area and the longer path to the implant’s final resting place. He recommended the under-breast incision for that reason and because it was easier to readjust the implant mid-surgery with his approach to ensure the ‘pocket’ was perfectly placed in relation to the nipple. I deferred to his better judgement, warning him that I was a ‘nudist’ and wanted the scars to be as small as possible.
HIM: It’s a pretty tense position to be in, having all these decisions to make that are basically going to affect your appearance for the rest of your life. There are so many ways the surgery could go wrong. One of the most common problems is the implant ending up in the wrong position relative to the nipple – I’ve seen them too close together, too far apart, too high and too low. I’m not sure if that’s the surgeon’s fault, or just the woman’s anatomy dictating what’s possible. Still, it’s a big risk. And on top of all that, there’s the pain. Yet, on the day of the surgery, I was surprised at how calm you were.
HER: Well, it was an act. I had never had major surgery before, and all I could think was ‘wouldn’t it be tragically ironic if, after a perfectly healthy life, THIS is how I die?’ One thing that made it a little easier, however, was that we had paid extra to have the operation at a surgical suite in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel rather than a hospital. We were scheduled for a 7:30 am start time, so we stayed at the hotel the night before to ensure a stress-free commute. We figured we’d just drive home after.
One frustration was that I hadn’t been able to get a straight answer about how much pain I would be in after the surgery. One doc’s very helpful reply was ‘pain is temporary’. No shit, but that wasn’t my question! What I discovered when I woke up from the sedative was that the pain was pretty intense at the beginning. They gave me a couple Percocet when I first woke up, but they take about 40 mins to kick in. Before those 40 minutes were up, I was in a wheelchair headed out the door to the car. With the first bump we hit getting into the elevator, I knew I would not survive the drive home. We got off in the lobby, instead, and booked a room for another night. I wish someone had told us to do that right from the beginning.
HIM: That was definitely the right call. I guess it was empathy, but I could feel your sensitivity as if it was my own. Every irregularity in the floor was excruciating. I’m sure if there was a magnitude one tremor in Myanmar you would have registered it.
HER: Once the Percocet started working, though, I was comfortable enough to sleep. Another thing I learned quickly that I hadn’t really thought about was the fact that your chest muscles, which they cut through, are engaged almost every time you move your torso. This meant I could not sit up, lie down, or put a shirt on without your help for a few days. So when I woke up needing some water and a trip to the bathroom that first night, I was very glad you were there. Thankfully, 48 hours of a steady diet of pain killers and you by my side day and night was enough to get me through the hardest part. By the third day, I was pulling weeds in the garden (very gingerly) with nothing more than Advil for the pain. I’m a bit of a wimp, but the pain really wasn’t bad other than that first hour.
HIM: You were definitely pushing the pace with your recovery. I remember when the doctor told us that we would have to refrain from having sex until four to six weeks after the surgery. You just looked at him and said “no way”. I think we held out for four days!
HER: Six weeks after the surgery, we were back at Hedo. The scars were still pink and very apparent, and I felt a little self-conscious naked, but I looked fantastic in a bikini. I was absolutely loving my new shape. Now, almost three years later, there’s no discolouration, and most people say they wouldn’t have noticed the scars if I hadn’t pointed them out. And, because I looked pretty much the same as before with clothes on, thanks to our reasonable size choice and the years of wearing padded bras, no one at work noticed the difference!
HIM: I’m amazed at how well everything turned out. We’ve had several people actually come up to us to tell you they thought you had the best tits at Hedo! And you know, for everyone who says it, there must have been several more who thought it. As you mentioned, we’ve seen lots of bad ones during our time on nude beaches. But, of course, what you don’t notice are all the fantastic boob jobs that were done so expertly that you just assume you’re looking at a woman’s natural endowment. I think that’s what Dr. Backstein achieved for you — Dr. Backstein, and your own refusal to give in to the ‘bigger is better’ mentality.
Liam & Kate are a married couple, very much in love, writing honestly and insightfully about their adventures in the world of non-monogamy.