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2017 Update: We still think this is an interesting discussion on breast reduction, coworkers, and other cosmetic surgery/office considerations — but you may also want to check out our more recent thread on taking time off work for plastic surgery.
How do you deal with cosmetic surgery (breast reduction, breast enlargement, nose jobs, etc) at the office? What do you tell coworkers? Reader D wonders…
I have a question about dealing with a very sensitive issue at work. I will be having breast reduction surgery at the end of the summer and don’t know how to deal with questions from my coworkers. I will be out of the office for a week and will look noticeably different when I return. The surgery itself doesn’t concern me, I’m actually very excited about it, but the thought of answering all those prying questions, or just dealing with people’s observations, is making me very anxious. I would love to hear people’s thoughts on this one.
Congrats on your upcoming surgery, D — may it be everything you want it to be, both in terms of pain reduction, lifestyle, and appearance. As a fellow, ahem, curvy girl myself, I feel your pain. I’m curious to hear what readers say about this one, but a few thoughts:
Here’s my advice regarding breast reduction, coworkers, and you: Grow a thick skin.
(Put another way: F’em.) People may make judgments or opinions on you based on this surgery, sure, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. The people you’re working with right now will either understand or they won’t, and there’s nothing you can do about that. If you’re more comfortable being able to answer questions about it, come up with a few lines about your surgery that either vaguely address the surgery/your absence (“Thanks, I feel great — my lower back is in so much less pain!”) or directly address the surgery (perhaps in clinical terms?). Ultimately, it’s inappropriate for your coworkers to make comments about your body, and that is something you should feel free to remind people about. Honestly, my guess is that the men you work with will not want to touch this subject with a ten foot pole.
Ok, that’s really only one thought. I suppose it’s also possible for you to do a gradual change using padding — for example, if you’re currently a 34H and you’ll be a 34D after the surgery, buy one bra for each cup size difference… after you surgery wear a 34G for a while stuffed with padding, then switch to a 34F after week or two, and so forth. People will still probably eventually realize you had breast reduction surgery, but may ask less questions about it. But ultimately, I think you’re in for a day or two (tops, a week) of awkward questions, and after that you’ll be fine.
Readers, what are your thoughts about breast reduction, coworkers, and plastic surgery in general? Does your answer change if it’s something purely cosmetic?
(Pictured: Personal photo, circa 1981 or so. All rights reserved.)