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‘Bachelorette’ Rachel Recchia: Why I’m telling the world about my breast reduction surgery

For years, my large chest caused me pain and suffering. When I went on TV, it only got worse.
Rachel Recchia
Rachel Recchia at the 2022 People's Choice Awards on December 06, 2022 in Santa Monica, CA.Frazer Harrison / WireImage

I made my first appointment to find out more about breast reduction surgery when I was 17 years old. Ten years and a “Bachelorette” starring role later, at the age of 27, I finally did it. 

The morning of the surgery, I was totally calm. I was ready. I had waited years for this. And the moment I opened my eyes and got off the table, I knew my life had changed — for the better. My body felt different. Lighter. For the first time in over a decade, I didn’t have back pain (and I haven’t since).

At last, some relief from the change that seemed to happen overnight, back when I was in high school. 

One day, I had a flat chest. Then, I woke up, and my boobs were bigger than everyone else’s. The word that I can use to describe having large breasts, for me, is … uncomfortable. From the start, I could tell my triple Ds weren’t fitting my frame or lifestyle, and it never got better.

One day, I had a flat chest. Then, I woke up, and my boobs were bigger than everyone else’s. The word that I can use to describe having large breasts, for me, is … uncomfortable.

My chest was never something I wanted to show off. As a teenager, I didn’t want to be sexualized more than I already was. Then, as I got my degree in aviation and entered a male-dominated field, I felt I had to cover up.

Then there was the physical pain of having large breasts on a small frame. I wanted to fly high as a cheerleader, but struggled with back pain. Not to mention the inconvenience of wearing three sports bras when everyone else was wearing one. 

My discomfort came to a head when I was the star of a reality TV show and couldn’t find a dress to wear. Or I could, but it wasn’t the dress I wanted to wear. 

When you’re dating 32 guys at the same time, self-confidence is a must … and sometimes it felt hard to shine while wearing clothes that decidedly weren’t me. Stylist Cary Fetman and I joked that I was giving “mother of the bride” during the rose ceremonies in my high-neck gowns. He’s great and was so patient with helping me feel the best I could.

When the episodes played back and people made the same jokes online, it didn’t seem so funny anymore. 

Rachel Recchia in season 19 of "The Bachelorette."
Rachel Recchia in the finale of "The Bachelorette."Craig Sjodin / ABC via Getty Images

Throughout the process, I was reminded that my life didn’t have to be this way. The other women on the show didn’t have the same problems with their chest that I did. I went through racks of dresses that would look awesome on the other contestants, but I couldn’t wear them. I was like, "I don’t want to live like this."  

I’ll never forget when I was given a bag of bathing suits for options. I tried on every single one and not one fit me, or was flattering. Cary had to order specific tops for me. I admit I had a fit that day — but it just felt like the encapsulation of a journey.

While I had plans to get the surgery even before “The Bachelorette,” my experience on the show made it all the more urgent.

Being able to get this life-altering surgery was a privilege. Back when I started the process, I had to “prove” to my insurance that I couldn’t manage the pain with medication and physical therapy. I went to the chiropractor and physical therapist. I was still denied coverage. I was willing to go forward even paying out of pocket. Six years later, I finally did. 

I decided to post about my journey on social media because, growing up, I never heard anyone talk about this procedure, and I felt so defeated by my body. Still, I was scared to hit post, thinking people would drag me for getting work done. 

Instead, the opposite happened: I was met with a wave of support, especially from people who had had the same surgery. Already, my decision to go public is paying off. When I was at Disneyland recently, a 17-year-old girl came up to me and said she wanted to get the procedure done, too.

Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey on season 19 of "The Bachelorette."
Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey on Season 19 of "The Bachelorette."Craig Sjodin / ABC via Getty Images

I’ve always been transparent about the other cosmetic work I’ve done, like fillers and Botox. This is no different. I’m supportive of women who want to change something to make themselves happy, even if it is only aesthetic. If it improves your life and well-being and happiness, I’m 100% behind that.

I’m also lucky to be surrounded by people who support me. Oddly enough, no one else in my family has this problem, but they stood by me from day one. My friends who have gotten breast augmentations gave me advice and told me what pillow to get, for example. And the biggest shoutout to my roommate and “Bachelor” co-star Genevie Parisi, who brought me to surgery. Afterward, she gave me a bell I could use when I needed something. 

It’s only been a few weeks, but I already feel like a new me. Luckily, I already have a wardrobe for this new me prepared. I haven’t told many people this, but I’ve always bought and saved clothes for this moment. I kept them hidden away, knowing one day, I’d get the surgery, and could swap out my flowy shirts for tiny tops. Another perk of my new C cups? Fitting into any bikini I want at Target.

I’ve always been insecure — and I’m not anymore. Who knows? Maybe my newfound confidence will translate into my dating life. But for now, I’m just super excited to be the same me, but more comfortable.

As told to Elena Nicolaou