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Sherri Shepherd is feeling “lighter” after getting a breast reduction.
The 56-year-old shared the news of her “new boobs” during the Season 2 premiere of her talk show, Sherri, on Tuesday. She explained that she went under the knife on July 13 to reduce the size of her breasts. “This was not a vanity thing,” she said.
“I was a 42DD and I have to tell you,” Shepherd continued, “they were so heavy, I was slouching all of the time because of the weight. It started becoming really, really painful. My back was hurting very badly.”
According to Dr. Anna Steve, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and a breast specialist at New York-based Neinstein Plastic Surgery, Shepherd’s complaints aren’t uncommon.
“Women seek breast reduction for a variety of reasons, ranging from functional to aesthetic concerns,” Steve tells Yahoo Life. “Functional concerns include back pain, neck pain, shoulder grooving [bra straps making shoulder indentations], difficulty fitting bras and clothes, and skin breakdown or recurrent infections between the breast skin and abdomen. Aesthetic concerns may include large areolas, droopiness, extra skin, disproportionate size or asymmetry.”
A 2020 ASPS report (the most recent available) shows that there were 97,320 breast reductions done in that year alone, including both aesthetic and reconstructive. “Many surgeries, breast reduction included, are both cosmetic and functional,” says Steve, noting that “functional symptoms must be present and nonresponsive to nonsurgical management” in order for a breast reduction to be covered by insurance. She adds, “Certain weight removal requirements are also necessary, so women seeking smaller volume reductions may not qualify.”
ASPS states that the average surgeon fee for a breast reduction is $5,913, which excludes the cost of anesthesia, operating room facilities or other related expenses. Plastic surgeons need to get preapproval from insurance companies to ensure the surgery is covered by health insurance, a process that can include referral letters from health professionals, photos and other documentation.
Though Shepherd explained that her reduction was to address functional concerns, she said that her documentation was denied. She ended up having to cover the costs herself.
“My insurance company would not pay for anything,” she said. “I really needed to have this done because of the pain. But insurance companies are still not covering this for women. And the fact that they won’t cover a procedure for a woman when it is necessary is a shame. A woman should not be in pain.”
Shepherd called on insurance companies to “make women’s health a priority,” although Steve maintains that “for those who meet criteria, insurance coverage is often granted.”
Nonetheless, the talk show host is happy with her results. “I love the new girls,” she said. “I can sit up straight. I feel lighter. It’s easy to shop.”
Steve confirmed that “fitting into clothes and bras more easily,” is a positive change often noted by breast reduction patients. Another common reason is “improved ability to live an active lifestyle,” which is supported by a study that found breast size “significantly impacts” the type of exercise women do.
Other celebrities have spoken about their experiences with breast reductions, including actress Ariel Winter and former Bachelorette star Rachel Recchia. Most recently, actress and singer Raven-Symoné reflected on having her breasts reduced before she turned 18 — something that was done in reaction to the body-shaming comments she had received while being on TV.
Shepherd also received comments from people telling her she was “too top-heavy” and saying she’d be more “balanced” if her breasts were smaller after her weight loss.
“To be clear, I did not get this boob job because of all the comments I got,” she said. “I got the boob job ’cause I just wanted to see what it felt like to sleep on my stomach.”