What do women want? What do they really want? What would make every day brighter, better, more comfortable? Not needing a bra, that’s what. No matter how beautiful, bolstering, or bedazzled they might be, women hate their bras.
Why the drama? For one, bras don’t fit. Women are constantly accused of wearing the wrong size bra, as if we are just not paying attention when we try them on. But the fault lies not in your own impression of what works, but in the fact that bras are poorly made and, more importantly, poorly sized.
Basic Bra Problems
Bra sizes are based on relics of corset measurements, when it was all about squishing, and the intention was to be as uncomfortable as possible. The greater issue, however, is that the sizes actually have nothing to do with human people shapes. What may have a cup that has the right height, or projection, could easily be too wide or too narrow, cancelling out any chance of ever feeling truly “fitted.” Straps are still burdensome, and hooks dig in to your back when you’re sitting down anywhere. Still, the greatest bra criminal remains the underwire, a metal bar that constricts your torso in the one spot that does not need support, and in a restricted 2 dimensional plane.
Today’s fabric technology has come a long way in terms of softness, breathability, and molding, but the improved texture is accompanied by nearly orthopedic add-a-cup padding or 18-hour structural beams. Women with oversized or droopy breasts have no choice but to strap in, or else they are literally all over the place. Women with small breasts often require even more equipment in order to achieve a balanced body contour, as dictated by popular culture and optimized aesthetics. The rare woman who can wear a T-shirt or sun dress without a bra, filling it out just right while maintain her classy appearance, is indeed the envy of millions.
The Structure & Anatomy of a Breast Lift
So how can you get there, to that sweet place of bra independence? The answer is balance and support. A traditional breast reduction removes tissue from the upper parts of the breast, then gathers the lower tissue up and uses the skin to tighten the whole structure. The problem with this is that skin stretches, and because the bulk of what is left is on the lower part of the breast, over time the tissue bottoms out. With a supported breast reduction, tissue is removed in the lower part of the breast as well as the sides (that part that goes into your armpit). After that, the remaining tissue gets redirected where you want it most: your cleavage. Strategically placed sutures hold the new breast together into its shape, and the skin is just re-draped for coverage but without tension. The end result is a lifted, shaped breast that can hold up over time—often without a bra.
Going in the other direction, breast augmentation can create or restore volume and shape to the breast. The problem with many breast augmentation surgeries is that they involve oversized or overwide implants. When the implant is too much for the breast envelope to accommodate, it pushes on the tissue, the skin, and the chest wall, deforming each. The extra weight also pulls downward and stretches everything out. The end result is that you look fine in a bra, but you could never go without. A perfectly sized implant in just the right pocket, and with the right support, will fill out the contour just right without weighing you down. Here, too, if it’s just right, bras become optional.
Be Free, Ladies!
And you know you had the right operation when you pull that dress out of the back of your closet—the one you bought a few years ago and always wished fit you right—and it suddenly looks like it was made just for you. No straps, no backs, no tags or tugs.
As a plastic surgeon specialized in cosmetic breast surgery, it has long been my mission to help women look and feel their best. I have never underestimated what the breast represents to my patients, nor what a global effect breast shape and volume can have on body contour. But over the years, what has become most striking to me is the level of happiness and liberation a woman can have when she has the choice of whether or not to wear a bra today. Little did I know when I started my practice that this was really all about physical freedom. Be free, ladies, be free.
Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images: Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors, the million dollar couple, 1977.
Dr. Sophie Bartsich gives us a crash course in breast implant sizing so you can achieve the most natural-looking breasts.
Plus, read Sophie’s take on why there’s no such thing as a B cup.
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