Beccy Bingham, 37, is a graphic and web designer in Utah, who recently underwent breast reduction surgery. After her surgery, she learned her breast reduction was not what she requested. She shared her story with TODAY.
For almost 20 years, I have dreamed of having a breast reduction. That might sound odd, but my breasts were so large they caused me incredible back pain. I struggled to find bras that fit me, but if I had to guess I likely wore an H- or I-cup bra. I visited a chiropractor and massage therapist weekly to try to lessen the pain. My chiropractor once quipped that my back felt like “bricks” from supporting the weight of my chest.
Nothing seemed to reduce my pain and my quality of life suffered. I couldn’t eat dinner with my family because I struggled to sit or stand for long periods of time and I felt forced to lay down to find some relief. Something like folding laundry caused such intense agony that I couldn’t do it. It felt difficult missing out on time with my children because of pain. During a session with my chiropractor, he mentioned the name of a surgeon who performed breast reductions for a few of his acquaintances. So I reached out and felt lucky I could get an appointment — so many doctors had long waiting lists.
My husband joined me for my first appointment with the doctor. Having a consultation for breast reduction surgery feels a little weird. It’s not often that I stand topless while someone moves my breasts and thoroughly looks at them. I remember he asked what size brassiere I wore, which struck me as an odd word. But I chalked that up to his age.
After the exam, he said he believed that health insurance would cover my breast reduction because my tissue was dense. Then we talked about size and I said I’d love to be a B or C cup and he nodded. He explained the procedure and said he’d remove 1,200 grams per breast, showed me where the incisions would be and explained how much recovery time I would need. Before I left he took before pictures and assured me that he and his staff would assemble a packet of information to send to the insurance company for pre-approval. My surgery was set for July 5, 2020.
When the doctor marked me up for surgery, he again asked what bra size I’d like to be and I told him I’d be thrilled with a B or a C cup. I wanted him to understand that I wanted my chest to be much, much smaller. He just nodded in response.
As soon as I woke from surgery, I asked how much tissue was removed. The nurse informed me he removed 800 grams from one and 600 grams from the other (medical records obtained by TODAY detail that 864 grams were removed from one breast and 776 from the other breast, totaling 1,640 grams) — the difference between the two sides would give me symmetry. That was 1,400 grams total, which is 1,000 grams less than I thought would be removed. I forgot to bring a button up shirt to the hospital to wear home, but felt pleasantly surprised when I could button up my husband’s shirt.
When I looked up online how much he removed when I went home, it still seemed like he removed a lot of weight — about 3 pounds. I would have rather had the doctor remove more like 5 pounds, but I knew healing would take a long time and I wouldn’t truly see how much smaller my bust was for months.
My mom went with me to my follow-up visit in the doctor’s office where the nurses removed the drains from the surgery. The doctor popped in and made a strange remark, saying, “I thought your husband was really mad me.”
I paused and said my husband completely supported my breast reduction.
My mom and I thought his comment was weird but wondered if that was a joke he makes with many patients. When I returned for my two-week appointment to have my stitches removed, he stopped in to see how I was progressing. I told him how happy I was. The nipples seemed to be placed in the right spot, the shape was nice and they were really symmetrical. That’s when he told me I was going to be a D cup and added, “I felt like your husband was really mad at me.”
I was shocked that he mentioned my husband twice. It sounded like he made a choice about my larger breast size based on my husband’s possible preference. It was gross to think that a doctor decided how I would look based on what he thought my husband wanted. When I got to the car, I started sobbing. (TODAY spoke with Bingham's husband and he said he did not speak to his wife's surgeon about the size of her breast reduction.)
I reached out to the health care system that he worked for to share my experience. They told me that he was joking and he was a good doctor. They asked what they could do and I asked them to hire a female-owned company for sensitivity training for its staff. I hoped that such training would help others understand why such comments were wrong. And I also asked to be compensated for the surgery. Insurance covered about 80% so I did owe about $500, which they waived.
The administrator at the health care company said he spoke with the doctor about how his comments weren’t OK, but it doesn't sound like they’re going to offer any additional training. I don't think they understand how harmful comments like this are and how badly I feel.
I wanted to share my story to help other people who face doctors who make careless, misogynistic jokes and make them feel unsafe. I hope to empower people to speak up. But I also hope that this health care group and others consider sensitivity training to avoid such experiences.
I am frustrated. I have waited since I was 18 to have the surgery and the reduction wasn’t as significant as I requested. I'm not sure that I could undergo another surgery to become smaller. Yes, he made my bust smaller, but he made a sexist joke that made me question his intentions. Perhaps to him it was just an offhanded comment, but I’m haunted by it.
TODAY reached out to Bingham's health care provider for a comment. Here is their full statement: We see well over 1.2 million patient visits a year, and our goal is to provide the best experience with the best outcomes possible. We pride ourselves on providing high quality, affordable care to more than patients throughout Utah.
We are sorry when any patient feels we have not met their specific needs or expectations. We welcome feedback and try to work with all of our patients to make sure their concerns are addressed. Even with a patient’s consent, however, we are not able to make public comments about their treatment.