"Breast hypoplasia meant I couldn't breastfeed"

A diagnosis of breast hypoplasia led one mum to breast augmentation.
A diagnosis of breast hypoplasia led one mum to breast augmentation. 

After years of hoping her breasts would grow, Nicole learned there was actually a medical reason for her body shape. The diagnosis changed the way she thought about her body - and about having it surgically altered. The Canberra mum of two shares her story ...

There’s a lot of negative stigma attached to breast enhancement, and I know a lot of people think it’s only for trashy women who want ridiculous, fake-looking boobs. It may be true for some, but it’s not like that for everyone. I certainly don’t consider it the case for myself.

All my life I’ve struggled with my weight. At 12 I was the youngest in my Weight Watchers meetings, and by 15 I was taking weight loss drugs meant for adults. I was teased by strangers, friends and family, and had virtually no self-esteem.

Then I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) at 18. As a result of my hormonal issues, I never developed breasts. I had little unfortunate things that even good bras couldn’t help ... in fact, padded and push-up bras just made them look worse. I always thought they looked like two tennis balls stuck to a wheelie bin whenever I tried on bras, so after a while I just gave up.

My mother always hoped that if I lost weight my breasts might appear bigger. Then I began treatment for my PCOS and started a prescription meal replacement program; over five years I lost 34kg, and reached my goal weight on my wedding day. But my breasts still looked exactly the same.

I hated not having decent breasts, but consoled myself with the fact that at least they wouldn’t sag with age.

Still, I didn’t stop hoping. I thought that when I fell pregnant with my son my chest would blossom with decent-sized displays of womanhood. The midwife at our antenatal class cheered me up when she said, “Don’t worry ladies, every woman gets their Dolly Partons!”

After nine months my son arrived … but my new breasts didn’t. And with virtually no milk supply, despite all my efforts and support from lactation consultants, I couldn’t breastfeed either.

By the time I was pregnant with my daughter I’d given up on my boobs. They were forever frozen in a prepubescent state.

I hated not having decent breasts, but consoled myself with the fact that at least they wouldn’t sag with age.

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Then one day, at a doctor's appointment, my doctor mentioned that it seemed I had breast hypoplasia. It’s a condition characterised by small, underdeveloped breasts made up of dense, fibrous tissue, with an unusually large gap between them. I fit the profile perfectly.

I did some research and found that breast surgery for the condition had once been covered by Medicare. For the first time in my life, I realised something could be done about my chest. I’d always wondered why women got implants - aside from those who got reconstructive surgery after breast cancer - but started looking at the issue in a completely different light. Still, as Medicare no longer covered the surgery, I couldn't afford it.

Then a close family member passed away suddenly. It shook me up and made me reassess my life – and my self-esteem. When I received some money from my late relative’s estate, I suddenly had the means to actually do something about my body. Could I use the money do something purely selfish? Could I use it to buy myself new breasts?

I decided to do it. I'd thought I'd have to live with my body the way it was forever, but I'd been given the chance to change it.

I did a lot of research, joining forums just about breast augmentation, and learnt more about the subject than I ever thought possible. Eventually I chose a Brisbane surgeon who uses implants amusingly called ‘Furry Brazilians’.

It’s now been 16 months since I had my surgery, and I haven’t looked back. Surgery was one of the best things I’ve ever done and my confidence has been boosted more than I could possibly imagine. Before, I honestly couldn’t understand the difference having decent breasts would make to how I feel. But my breasts have given me a sense of femininity I never had before, and a greater level of pride in how I look and what I wear.

Breast enhancement isn’t for everyone, and the price tag certainly isn’t. But the next time you hear someone talking about having a “boob job”, don’t brush it off as something trashy and unnecessary. For so many women, it’s so much more.