Ask the Doctors: Kristin

Seeking Balance
"I'm 21 years old, and I don't see myself as being normal," says Kristin. "One of my breasts is larger than the other." Shirtless and in a bra, Kristin points out the disparity. "This one's a size C, and this one's A size," she says.


"I was in sixth grade when I noticed that something was wrong with my breasts. I thought that they would balance out, but they didn't." Kristin tried to cover the issue, stuffing one side of her bra with tissues and socks.

"It was very awkward for her to find out you're not normal, you're not like everybody else," says Kristin's mother, Sandra. "When she got to be in high school, it just got more obvious. One side was just getting much bigger than the other. I decided to take her to a doctor and see if there was anything they could do. We did ultrasounds, and X-rays, and all kinds of tests, just to make sure her structure was OK."

"Everything was normal with both of them; they were just different," says Kristin.

Sandra recounts, "The doctor said, 'Just wait. When she's done growing, you could look at maybe having it corrected.'"

Kristin's next move was to purchase gels, which were a tad more realistic. She demonstrates placing them. "I just put it inside the bra like this," she says, positioning one on her smaller side. "It kind of hangs out a little, but it kind of evens them out a little with a shirt, and you can't really tell when you have a shirt on."

"I love, like, going to the beach," Kristin says longingly, "but it's almost impossible to find a bathing suit that will hold the gels." She shows off the shortcomings of a standard bikini top. "So most of the time, I would just wear, maybe a sports bra and a tank top. I feel like it's not fair."

About a year ago, Kristin asked her mother about getting implants, but Sandra could not afford the surgery. They turned to their insurance company, but were denied on the grounds that the procedure cosmetic, rather than corrective.

The problem has taken an emotional toll. "She's had to just learn how to live with it and hide it, but it's been really, really difficult for her," says Sandra.

"I have to wake up and deal with this every day. I don't feel like I get close to people, because I can't be completely real with them when I first meet them," Kristin says through tears. "I don't feel like I'm living life like I want to live."

As Dr. Phil begins his conversation with Kristin, she wipes tears from her cheeks.

"This has really affected you as you began to develop and grow because at this age, I mean, girls and guys, everybody's so conscious of their appearance," says Dr. Phil. "You even hid it from your mom."

"Yeah," she says. "I'm afraid that people are going to think I'm different just because of this physical disorder, and I hid it from my mom, even though I'm close to her. It's just embarrassing."

Turning to Sandra, Dr. Phil asks, "At what point did you get on to there was a significant imbalance here?"

"Probably when she was about 16 years old. It started showing through her shirts," she says. "I could tell, even though she tried to even it out."

"Dr. Ordon, this is pretty uncommon, right?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Most women have a certain degree of difference between the two breasts, but her case clearly is more extreme," he says.

Kristin, goes for an in-office consultation with Dr. Ordon.

Dr. Ordon explains, "We're going to examine her. We're going to take some pictures." He and some colleagues join Kristin and her mother. During the examination, he describes the techniques he'll use, saying, "As you can see, with this breast implant you get this fullness up in here which I can't get by just lifting alone. So, what we would want to do is put a smaller implant on this side to give the fullness that you want in conjunction."

Afterward, Sandra says, "Oh, I thought Dr. Ordon was wonderful. He was very nice and very sweet to Kristin, and he made her feel at ease and made us all feel at ease."

"It gives me a lot of hope, the way he said that it could be fixed," Kristin says.

Joining Kristin and Sandra again, Dr. Ordon says, "I feel good about our consultation today. I think we covered most things, and I'll be seeing you again tomorrow."

As Dr. Phil begins his conversation with Kristin, she wipes tears from her cheeks.

"This has really affected you as you began to develop and grow because at this age, I mean, girls and guys, everybody's so conscious of their appearance," says Dr. Phil. "You even hid it from your mom."

"Yeah," she says. "I'm afraid that people are going to think I'm different just because of this physical disorder, and I hid it from my mom, even though I'm close to her. It's just embarrassing."

Turning to Sandra, Dr. Phil asks, "At what point did you get on to there was a significant imbalance here?"

"Probably when she was about 16 years old. It started showing through her shirts," she says. "I could tell, even though she tried to even it out."

"Dr. Ordon, this is pretty uncommon, right?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Most women have a certain degree of difference between the two breasts, but her case clearly is more extreme," he says.

Kristin, goes for an in-office consultation with Dr. Ordon.

Dr. Ordon explains, "We're going to examine her. We're going to take some pictures." He and some colleagues join Kristin and her mother. During the examination, he describes the techniques he'll use, saying, "As you can see, with this breast implant you get this fullness up in here which I can't get by just lifting alone. So, what we would want to do is put a smaller implant on this side to give the fullness that you want in conjunction."

Afterward, Sandra says, "Oh, I thought Dr. Ordon was wonderful. He was very nice and very sweet to Kristin, and he made her feel at ease and made us all feel at ease."

"It gives me a lot of hope, the way he said that it could be fixed," Kristin says.

Joining Kristin and Sandra again, Dr. Ordon says, "I feel good about our consultation today. I think we covered most things, and I'll be seeing you again tomorrow."

Kristin agrees to let the Dr. Phil cameras follow her through the entire surgical process, from prep to recovery.

Speaking from her hotel room the night before her surgery, she says, "I'm really looking forward to being able to just go to the store, and just pick out any swimsuit, and then put it on, and then jump into the pool. I want to tell Dr. Phil and Dr. Ordon that it's not just some surgery to me." As she speaks, tears form in her eyes. "It's pretty much a life-changing event. When I got up this morning and thought about it being the last time I'm going to have to put the gels in, it was a big relief. And after the surgery I want to, like, throw them in the trashcan and never see them again. I think I'm going to wear a halter top all winter long."

The next morning, Dr. Ordon shares his thoughts. "Kristin is ideal. She is realistic. She's well motivated. She's obviously bothered by this deformity. It really is going to change her life." 

Out in the waiting room, Sandra waits to hear how the procedure is going. "I'm really excited. I'm ready to see her," she says.

Back in the surgery room, a nurse rubs Kristin's face. "Wakey, wakey!" she says. "Take a look and join us! Come back in the world."

"We had a good day in surgery. Everything went right," says Dr. Ordon. "We really spent a lot of time on the game plan, and the result came out awesome."

Joining Kristin's mother in the waiting room, Dr. Ordon says, "All done! Sandra, she did so well. I am so happy with the way everything went, and she's in recovery room, she's comfortable." Though she is soon to be discharged, Kristin will return the following day for a routine post-operative follow up.

The next day, Kristin awaits the doctor's arrival in the examination room.

"She's dying to know what they look like," a nurse tells Dr. Ordon as he enters.

He opens her shirt, and though she is still bandaged, he says, "Not bad! You're very swollen in here. I don't want to push." Further along in the examination, he studies his work. "Pretty darn good! This is lining up. This all looks very, very good. A little too soon for the bikini, but that's OK." Speaking after the examination, Dr. Ordon notes, "As the swelling comes down, the implants settle, she's going to do a little massage, she should look very, very good."

With her surgery behind her, Kristin shares her final thoughts. "Dr. Ordon said it would probably be at least a good three weeks before I could be in a swimsuit and be completely healed and everything be set right, which is fine with me because I've been waiting so long that three weeks isn't anything. I'm just really excited that this is finally over with." Tears form in her eyes as she speaks. "And I can move on, and be happy and be normal like everyone else and not have to have this hold me back and be a burden over my life. To Dr. Phil and Dr. Ordon, I am very grateful for everything that they have done, and I know that the next time that they see me, I'm going to be on a beach somewhere in a bathing suit. I seriously couldn't have asked for anything else. Ever."

With that, she gives herself an approving look in the bathroom mirror, picks up the old gels that used to be part of her daily routine, and throws them in the trash.