20 March 2019

Namibia: 'Breast Reduction Restored My Confidence'

BORN into a family of massively chested women, it was no surprise when Rosina Nepolo's chest became too heavy for her by the time she was 13 years old.

Nepolo, now 30, is the eldest of seven siblings, and hails from Oniihwa village in northern Namibia.

Whenever Nepolo felt insecure, her family reassured her that having a big chest is a source of pride for the family. This, however, did little to restore her confidence.

Having a big chest not only dented Nepolo's self-esteem, but it also caused her health problems including backaches, and shoulder and neck pain.

She said by the time she was in Grade 12, she could not find a bra size for her in shops, and she had to switch to custom-made bras.

"My breasts were so big I felt like it was all that people could see in me. Imagine a skinny girl with these huge breasts. It was too much," narrated Nepolo.

When she heard about a volunteer doctor who was performing plastic surgery for free, she submitted her name to be considered for a breast reduction operation.

She was 23 years old then.

"I was told the waiting list was long, so I was surprised when I was called in a year later for the operation. The whole surgery lasted about five hours, and I was so happy after completely healing, and I went to shop for a lot of bras. I felt so light, like a huge weight had been lifted from me," said Nepolo.

Her mother, Aletha Nepolo (55), who also had breast reduction surgery herself, said her daughter had a hard time as her breasts were too heavy for her body size.

As a mother, she understood her daughter's dilemma.

"It has been over 10 years since my surgery. My family members were scared when I said I was going for surgery, thinking that maybe it would cause me problems. But the surgery went well, and it took a month to heal," said Aletha.

She advised other women with health conditions caused by big breasts to seek medical assistance at any state hospital, which could then make a referral to a specialist.

Rosina's younger sister, Shondinah Nepolo (24) said she has no problems with her breasts as yet.

She, however, spoke of how her mother and sister would wear a lot of crop tops and vests under their clothes to keep the breasts in place.

"I felt happy for my sister and mom when they got their surgeries. My mom could not even walk far without getting tired, and my sister, has now got her confidence back," she said.

Local aesthetic medical practitioner Dr Marisa Venter said most Namibians are becoming more aware of the benefits of aesthetic medicine.

On the aspect of health benefits, Venter said an improved look could improve one's self-esteem, and can also encourage some people to eat healthier and exercise.

She said such procedures are holistic as they allow people to get treatment for other things like skin laxity, wrinkles, moles, excess fat, unwanted hair, spider veins and scars, among others.

"Aesthetic medicine is also a form of preventative medicine, where suspicious skin lesions and sun damage is identified early, and helps to detect and prevent skin cancers," she said.

She said the days when cosmetic surgery carried stigma are long gone, as more people are embracing the practice to slow down the ageing process and look younger.

"Today, we have safe tools to make people look younger in a natural-looking way, and improving their appearance. Now who does not want that?", Venter asked rhetorically. - Additional reporting by Maria Shaanika

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