The mum-of-two had struggled with the size of her breasts since being a teenager – but problems had escalated in recent years. Claire is now experiencing a whole new lease of life after undergoing breast reduction surgery at the specialist Breast Clinic at Spire Regency Hospital in Macclesfield.
Claire, aged 47, had resisted the procedure for years - but as she began to suffer increasing back and shoulder problems connected to carrying the weight on her slender frame, and the battle to find suitable bras got ever tougher, she decided to look into the idea further.
“I’ve lived with large breasts since I was 13,” Claire said. “In the past five years the situation had got worse as I got older. I was suffering with back ache and pain in my shoulders, and when I’d take off my bra at night there were deep grooves imprinted in the skin where the straps had been digging in. I had to be strapped up so tightly and securely it left me feeling very tender and sore.
“Shopping for bras was a nightmare too – it often used to leave me in tears. The whole experience was so traumatic, it left me feeling like a freak when nothing fit or looked right.” From being a youngster, Claire had also been forced to deal with other people’s reactions to her large chest and the stereotype they associated it with.
“Big breasts always get you a lot of attention, even when you don’t want it,” she said. “People often assume you’re a certain type of person when you have a large chest – cracking jokes like ‘you can put them away’ even though I always felt self-conscious about them, and would always do my best to dress in the most discreet way.
“I’d always put on a brave face and laugh along when people made jokes, but actually underneath I’d be thinking ‘I wish I didn’t have them, they’re such a nuisance’ and I was feeling really hurt.”
Claire said other people’s reactions to her situation had also added to the reluctance she initially felt about the operation.
“People think you’re lucky when you’ve got huge boobs – often they can’t understand why you’d want to make them smaller,” Claire added. And the Macclesfield mum admitted she battled with similar arguments herself before going ahead with procedure.
“I’d tell myself I was being ridiculous, that it wasn’t life-threatening so why put myself through it? I also wondered what my husband would think.”
But with back pain blighting her life – requiring regular visits to the chiropractor – and her self-confidence taking a battering with each unflattering photograph and sly comment, she decided to take advantage of a free consultation with one of Spire Regency’s specialist breast surgeons Mr Richard Johnson at an open day at the hospital.
Meeting him was the turning point – and since then, she’s never looked back. “If he’d been any different, I might never have gone ahead with it,” she said.
“He was so understanding – he knew exactly what I was getting at. He wasn’t judgmental or condescending – how lovely he was as a person, not just his expertise as a surgeon, was what made me go for it in the end.”
On the day of the operation she admits she felt nervous – but knew she was in safe hands. And when she came round from the anaesthetic, she was over the moon with the results. “I just looked down and thought ‘oh my goodness – YES!’” she remembered. “Straight away I knew I had done the right thing.”
Thanks to Mr Johnson’s expertise, Claire – who went down to a 32DD – was left with minimal scarring, and said she knew she could call on the Spire Regency nurses at any time during her recovery if she needed any help or advice. Now she is completely recovered – and reaping the benefits of her new, smaller chest.
“I feel so much better in myself,” she said. “I can wear nice bras for the first time! It’s changed the whole way I get dressed – I can just get up and put on the clothes I fancy, whereas before I had to match an outfit around the right bra.
And it’s opened up so many new clothes to me, things like strappy tops and dresses which I could never consider before.
“I’ve also not had to go back to the chiropractor since I had the operation because I’ve not been suffering with back pain or aches in my shoulder."
“But it’s gone so much further than changing my shape – there’s a whole range of emotions associated with it too. I feel sexier, I’ve got more confidence – it’s changed the way I feel about myself.
"I’d recommend finding out more about the procedure to any woman going through a similar experience – don’t let anyone make you feel it’s silly or ridiculous, they don’t know the truth of how you’re feeling. You don’t have to just put up with it."
“Having the breast reduction operation is the best decision I’ve ever made, I’m absolutely thrilled with the results.”