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Joan, 61, has had “large breasts” her entire life. (Or at least, since puberty.) “When I was younger, it was great,” she says. “I had a phenomenal figure. They were a solid D cup-high and full… the best accessories I could ask for!” But as Joan got older, they started getting… less great. “By my 50s, I was up to a 34 DDD, and I just didn’t like the way they looked any more.” Although Joan’s weight was the same as ever-“I’ve always worn a size 8″-her breasts seemed too large-and saggy. “I had deep grooves in my shoulders from where my bra straps dug in,” she explains. “And I felt self-conscious.”

So when one of Joan’s interior design clients got a breast reduction, Joan peppered her with questions. “She looked fabulous,” Joan says now. So I got her doctor’s card.” She went to see Dr. Friedlander that March, just for a consult. “After two hours in her office, I booked the surgery that day,” she says. Here, Joan talks about her procedure, the aftermath, and what she’d tell other FOFs about breast reduction surgery.

So it only took you two hours to decide to have this surgery?!

Oh, not at all. I had thought about doing since I was about 50. Over 10 years! I waited another year after my client gave me the card. I had never had major surgery in my life, and I thought, is this vain? What if there are complications?

So what changed after you met with Dr. Friedlander?

I just got a good feeling from her right away. I felt like she listened to me. I didn’t want to be small breasted. I’ve always had large breasts and I still wanted them. I just wanted them to fit my size. She understood that.

How was the surgery?

The surgery was easy. It took two hours. I went in a Tuesday morning, went under anesthesia, and she took one pound off of each side of my breasts! I’m still a D, but I’m a smaller D.

Did they have to do an implant? I’ve heard the to get lift you need to get implants as well.

No! Dr. Friedlander uses a technique that actually lifts the breast without an implant. She makes marks a triangle shape at the bottom of each breast and then cuts that tissue out and puts the two sides of the triangle together. So all that extra flesh gets pushed up. You get all that fullness at the top of the breast again. I didn’t completely understand it before I saw the results, but now I do. It’s great…it also gets rid of that extra flesh on the sides-the stuff that sort of spills out of your bra near your armpits.

How was the recovery?

Easy. By the afternoon of the surgery, I felt wonderful. I came home and took one pain pill, but it made me feel a little nauseous, so the rest of the time I just took Tylenol. That Saturday-4 days after surgery-I went to a dear friend’s daughter’s bridal shower. I put on a little dress and my post-surgery bra, and drove myself! I never really felt pain… just soreness. It didn’t hurt as much as nursing my kids did!

What did you think of the results?

Oh my God, when I saw them I was giggling like a 16 year old! I was thrilled! I know some FOFs probably think, why bother, are new breasts really important in the whole scheme of things? But I can’t tell you what a difference this has made to the way I feel and look. My whole life, I’ve never before had a blouse I could button across my chest like I do now. I’d always have to buy a size 12 jacket and have everything altered. Now I buy right off the rack. I don’t feel self-conscious about my cleavage anymore. And I don’t have grooves digging into my shoulders and pain in my back…

How have your friends reacted?

Everyone always asks me, how much weight did you lose? It’s not a drastic change, but I look much smaller all over than I did.

What does your husband think?

When I first said I was getting the surgery, he thought I was crazy. He was just like, why take the risk? He worried something would happen to me. But in the end he was totally supportive and he thinks they look beautiful. I’m in a happy, long-term marriage. This decision was really for me….I didn’t even tell my husband when I went for the initial consult. I wanted to think it over completely on my own.

Is there anything else you’d like to get done?

I haven’t had any other work done yet. OK, I did a little Botox! But I’m not unhappy with anything else. Somewhere down the line, perhaps I’d have my eyes done. It has to be just like this, where one day I wake up and I’m just ready. Maybe when I can’t get my makeup on right. It’s not at the top of my wishlist right now.

Beverly Friedlander MD