Tired of back pain and unwanted attention, a Utah woman is getting real about life with a size J bust and the aftermath of her breast reduction surgery.
“I was sick of being treated like meat,” Derby, 27, told TODAY about her reasons for wanting to reshape her body. “I don't want everyone to just notice my chest.”
“It was almost like nothing else about me mattered if I went on a date… I would like to stop being overly sexualized in everything I wear.”
With a natural 38J bust size, Derby avoided wearing a swimsuit for 10 years because of how both men and women reacted to her body shape. At 5 feet 2 inches tall, everything she wears is small, “which just amplified how large my breasts looked,” she said.
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She was also frustrated by the physical limitations of her body. Derby wanted to be more active, but experienced sharp, shooting back pain whenever she tried hiking or other workouts. With so much weight on her chest, sleeping was an ordeal.
“I basically stopped trying to go out and have fun because it hurt,” Derby, who posts colorful hair and makeup tutorials on YouTube, said.
Clothes were a problem, too: She could only find bras in her size online at a cost of $50-$100 per garment.
It turns out Derby was far from alone in her frustration.
There were more than 68,000 aesthetic breast reduction surgeries in the U.S. last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (Breast augmentation is four times more common, with almost 280,000 procedures in 2015 — the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure.)
Men accounted for more than 40 percent of breast reductions. The procedure is often done in younger men who want to correct “genetic challenges with the size and shape of their breasts,” the group said.
Women who have had the surgery include "Modern Family" actress Ariel Winter, who once had a 32F bust size and turned to breast reduction to relieve "excruciating" pain.
Derby went into surgery at 7 a.m., woke up in recovery about seven hours later and went home that night. Recovery has been boring and mostly pain-free, she said. The scars are not as bad as she expected.
Because of the swelling, it can take up to six months for a patient to find out the final bust size. Derby believes she’s now a 38DD, which is exactly what she wanted. Compared to her previous shape, this size is “small and manageable,” she said.
Physically, she can already see the benefits, walking for miles without back, neck and shoulder pain. Psychologically, it’s been a tougher adjustment.
“When I wake up, I don't know how I will look in my clothes. My most flattering outfits don't look the same anymore,” Derby said.
“The other day, I tried on about 15 of my dresses and just broke down crying… when I look in the mirror, it isn't me. I'll get there, but it really will take time.”
She hopes sharing her story helps other women see that the transformation can bring health benefits, but isn’t always a quick fix.