How Melissa Gilbert Feels About Going From Size DD to ‘Just an Average B’

Health concerns prompted Melissa Gilbert to remove her breast implants.

ByABC News
January 29, 2015, 8:38 AM

— -- Melissa Gilbert is used to being in the spotlight.

The 50-year-old actress who, for a decade, played Laura Ingalls Wilder on the iconic TV series, “Little House on the Prairie,” grew up before our eyes. She's starred in a string of TV movies and even served as president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Lately, Gilbert has been making headlines for her decision to have her breast implants surgically removed earlier this month.

In an interview with ABC News, Gilbert talked about her decision to downsize from a cup size DD to a B.

“Just an average B, not a big B,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said she’d had implants for 20 years -- first saline, then silicone. Insecurity about her physical appearance set in long before she underwent any operations because she was a “late bloomer,” she said.

In her last couple of years of her time on “Little House on the Prairie,” Gilbert said she played an adult version of her character.

“It was just an assumption that it was time to wear a padded bra, that an A-cup was not enough. I had to be a B,” she said.

She was 16 then.

“So you imagine the message in my head is like, ‘OK, well, these are not right,’” she said.

Making matters tougher, her on-screen nemesis and off-screen friend, Alison Arngrim -- who played Nellie Oleson on the show -- was developing physically, while she wasn’t, Gilbert said.

“There was a huge difference," Gilbert said. "I was wearing, like, you know, Speedo one-piece bathing suits. She was wearing all these sort of sexy bikinis and stuff. I was nowhere near that,” Gilbert said.

She added: “She's a year older than me and she's wearing bras.”

Gilbert has written on her blog that after her first son was born and she had finished breast-feeding, her then-husband made negative comments about her chest. After the divorce, she decided to have breast implants when she started dating again.

The implant surgery went well, but in 2004, she started reading how implants should be replaced every 10 to 15 years, she wrote. Hers were already 12 years old.

Removing the implants has brought benefits, said Gilbert, who appeared on season 14 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

“Not only do I feel healthier and better, but I don't have these inappropriately large breasts that were wrong for my body, kind of getting the way,” she said. “I sleep more comfortably. And the bonus is I have disc issues in my neck. And I have absolutely no pulling on my shoulders. And all the pain in my neck has completely disappeared since the surgery."

Gilbert said her third husband, actor Timothy Busfield, has backed her decision.

“My husband has been so supportive and so sweet about this whole process ... He said, ‘Do it, go. Go,” she said.

Now that the removal is over, her husband “seems perfectly happy,” Gilbert said. “I don't think he's mourning or grieving anything.”

Although she removed her implants, Gilbert said she’s not against them, but she hopes women who are considering such augmentation consider all the risks before going under the knife for what is major surgery.

“The one thing that the medical community will admit to is that breast implants will not last forever in your body. And have to be replaced,” she said. “When you're getting the implants, you're making a commitment -- not just to that operation, but [to another one] every 10 to 15 years.”

She agreed that women likely don’t consider that aspect when they’re first considering breast enhancement.

“And when they hear it, ads on the radio, like I did in the car the other day, ‘We're having a special for $4,000 for implants,’ women go, ‘Oh my gosh, $4,000 for implants, that's great.’ But you don't realize that 10, 15 years from now you're going to have to do it again. And again. And again,” she said.

ABC News’ Michael Rothman contributed to this report.