I've Had 3 Boob Jobs in 2 Years — and I'm Finally Happy in My Skin

Growing up, and long after puberty had already made an exit, I was a part of the renowned Itty Bitty Titty Committee. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with being smaller chested, I often craved having something to fill out swimsuits and tops, to escape the inevitable gapping of bras and embrace a slightly larger chest. So a few years ago, I finally made the life-changing decision to get a breast augmentation, also known as a boob job. But here's the thing: it didn't turn out to be just one, but three within two years, all because I didn't choose the right surgeon.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the male-to-female ratio of plastic surgeons in the US is approximately 5:1. It's no surprise, then, that when I initially began my breast-augmentation research in 2018, I met with more than 15 male surgeons for consultations. And in my experience, after speaking with most of them, one sentiment ran through each: a push to go bigger than I wanted, perhaps even for an obviously augmented look. Many told me, "You'll regret it if you don't go bigger." In one case, a surgeon even said, "Might as well go big or go home." This sentiment rang true when it came to choosing both the volume of an implant as well as the profile size, which is the amount of projection outward an implant has off the chest. Currently, there are several profiles available: high, ultra-high, moderate, low-plus, and low.

I was surprised to hear, in all cases, that each surgeon I met with said they never use low-profile implants, as it "doesn't make a noticeable difference." Still, when it came to my results, I wasn't looking for big — I was looking for a natural and proportionate size that fit with my small 5'8" frame. Ultimately, I went with the surgeon who made me feel the most comfortable, although it ended up being that he wasn't the right one.

Even though I communicated my goals and brought in inspiration photos, I was left with a DD chest that was way too large for my body. Somewhere along the way, it felt like I wasn't heard or seen, and I thought I just didn't like having breast implants. What I didn't know was that, within a year, I had a complication, and because of the heaviness of my implants, they bottomed out, which is when your implants move past the pocket and are lower on your chest. After going back to the same surgeon, he explained my complication, and I went back for revision surgery, with the hopes of achieving my goal: natural-looking, small, and conservative. Still, even after thoroughly explaining where I was and what I wanted, I woke up feeling like nothing had changed, and he did what he felt was best.

After a few months, and having spent thousands of dollars, I decided that I deserved to be happy in my body and love my results. So I took matters into my own hands and began researching small-volume breast implants. I knew there would be a surgeon out there who would listen to me, understand my concerns, and greatly care for their patients. Luckily, I found her: Anna Steve, MD, a breast specialist at Neinstein Plastic Surgery in New York City.

Dr. Steve turned out to be exactly what I had been looking for. With a big social media presence, I found her while scrolling through Instagram on the hunt for smaller breast augmentations. In her practice, she mostly specializes in small-volume, natural, and elegant-looking breast implants. After stalking her page for a few weeks, I decided to make a consultation appointment. I already felt comfortable walking in — it was such a different office environment from my previous surgeon; it felt warm and inviting instead of cold and unfriendly, which extended to our hour-long consultation.

Dr. Anna Steve and author
Hayley Folk

Unlike before, this was the first time I'd felt like I wasn't pressured to go larger than I wanted. She even often uses low-profile implants, which is something other surgeons said wouldn't be worth the money or wouldn't make a noticeable difference. Dr. Steve made me feel incredibly understood, and she even reassured me that my desired results weren't unachievable. She asked me for inspiration photos, as she uses them to communicate and get a better idea of what patients are truly looking for, rather than just guessing. That way, things can't get lost in translation.

Soon after seeing Dr. Steve, and even speaking to other patients of hers, I decided to book my surgery date. I was tired of being unhappy in my body, having made a choice that should be fun but ended up being a miserable time for me. I, like everyone, deserve to feel good in my skin, and even after spending thousands on surgery and travel, I knew I needed to bite the bullet and follow what would make me feel like myself again. From the time I signed on to my surgery date, Dr. Steve's team was kind, helpful, responsive, and on top of things. I never once felt like a nuisance for asking questions but instead felt empowered and cared for. On the night before my surgery, Dr. Steve even called me herself to check in and see how I was doing before the big day.

The next morning, at 6:30 a.m., I arrived at the office to be greeted by the Neinstein team. After getting into a dressing gown and signing paperwork, I got to meet with Dr. Anna one last time to discuss my goals and what I wanted my size to be, to ensure we were both on the same page. This was something that had never happened prior. She even let me pick out the music she'd play in the operating room. I chose Fleetwood Mac, of course. Right down to the last second before going under anesthesia, she held my hand and told me she'd take great care of me. When I woke up, I looked down at my chest and knew I'd made the right choice in a surgeon this time.

Author before breast augmentation surgery
Hayley Folk

"Patient care is everything," she says. "We know surgery can be scary. Our mission is to be with our patients every step of the way. We have a strong sense of team at our practice, and everyone on board is willing to go the extra mile to optimize the patient experience. To me, this means being readily available to my patients any time they need me via text or phone call. I like to check in the night before surgery, hold their hand as they fall asleep, and follow up regularly after surgery to walk them through the recovery process."

It is no secret that, from the societal standards of beauty, there is a reason the male surgeons I met before pressured me to go large. By their definition, that is what looks best and is beautiful. But meeting Dr. Anna, seeing her work on other women, and then seeing my own results, I was reminded that societal definitions of beauty aren't always right. What I think is beautiful is beautiful. What others think is beautiful is also beautiful, too. And without surgeons who care to listen to and respect their patients' wishes, I can see how many people might feel swayed to make decisions that don't fit with what they actually want but conform to societal standards. I know because I was one of those women.

Now, my breasts are small but the perfect size for my body, which is what I always envisioned. Just something to fill out swimsuits and tops, something to still feel like me but with a little added oomph. I know now that, no matter what choices we make in our journey with our bodies, everyone should be able to speak for what they want and be listened to. I am so thankful I finally found that — even if it took me this long. The third time was the charm.