A WOMAN was size 38P boobs which cause her cysts sores and rashes has been denied an operation on the NHS.
Laura Howes, 27, is in agony but was told the only way to get the free op is to drop seven stone in weight.
However, given her breasts weigh a hefty four stone alone, Laura has struggled to shift the pounds.
She is now raising money to pay for the life-changing op privately, costing £8,000.
The wedding photographer, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, said: "Everyone says to me 'I'd kill to have boobs like you' and I'm like 'no you wouldn't'.
"The absolute worst pain I get from them tends to be the cysts and sores because they can be open wounds, because they rub so much they take forever to heal and they really hurt.
"I have dents and blisters on my shoulders from wearing the wrong-size bra for so long and blisters from the underwiring too.
"I also suffer from aching bones from my ribs all the way up to my jaw.
"It's a constant dull radiating pain, I try not to take painkillers too often because I don't want to become dependent on them."
Laura wears a size K bra – five size smaller than her actual cup because a personalised bra would set her back £350 – and she is forced to squeeze into XL men's t-shirts to cover her chest.
She said: "I'm not fussed what size I go down to as long as I can buy a bra in a shop, that's all I want out of life at the moment.
"It would be the biggest relief physically, mentally and emotionally.
"I would just be able to live life rather than just existing like I am now, it would be a life-changing procedure."
Rejected by NHS
Laura, who lives with 23-year-old supermarket worker boyfriend Sean Peacock, approached her GP two years ago to see if she could get a reduction on the NHS.
She claims she was initially refused because she did not meet the criteria of having a BMI of 27.
Local clinical commissioning groups decide whose breast reduction surgery to fund based on weight, age, psychological distress and inability to exercise among other things, leaving many missing out.
Upon hearing she needed to lose weight to get her op, Laura embarked on a two-year health and fitness plan.
But even with the help of a dietician and personal trainer, Laura was unable to shift the weight because at only 5ft 4, her huge breasts made exercise too painful.
At her wits end, Laura, who currently weighs 22st, visited a different sympathetic doctor who she claims calculated it would be “physically impossible” for her to reach her weight goal.
She said: "He said it would be physically impossible for me to ever have a BMI of 27 unless I were to become seriously underweight.
"He put in an extenuating circumstances form for me and I was rejected.
"It was crushing getting that call saying 'no'.”
After getting a second rejection, Laura says she was told there would only be a “small chance” the board would reconsider if she underwent drastic bariatric surgery.
It came as a huge blow – considering the daily pain Laura has to live with, she thought she would be deemed eligible for the surgery.
Laura says when she bumps into things, or has to squeeze through small spaces, she develops fat necrosis lumps.
The lumps are a result of injury to a fatty area of tissue and usually occur after breast reconstruction surgery.
Laura said: "I've jammed my boobs in doors before – even squeezing through a smaller space in supermarket aisles – any kind of knock and bump can result in that.
"It does feel a lot like cancer and it looks like cancer on scans. When I didn't know what they were that was a real worry.”
But it’s not only the physical pain, but the memory of being bullied since school that haunts Laura.
"I went straight into a B cup at the age of nine or ten and then by the time I left primary school at 11 I was already a double-D… I was a 34K by the time I left school at 16.
"I used to get bullied for that quite a lot at school. I would have boys running around yelling 'jugs' at me and staring at me and it was really uncomfortable.
"I was bullied up until the age of 14 then everyone grew up a little bit and I ended up with unwanted attention from lads, and I didn't want that either, I would cry on my own.”
After being knocked back twice Laura, has decided to take matters into her own hands and is fundraising to get surgery done privately on the advice of concerned friends.
She said: "I looked at a few local cosmetic hospitals that did breast reductions and they all range between £7,000 and £8,000.
"It's absolutely ridiculous that so many people have donated. It's really heartwarming."
An NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group spokesman said: "We are unable to comment on individual patients, but we can confirm that the CCG bases its criteria for a number of surgical procedures on the best available scientific evidence.
"This enables us to focus our resources on people who are most likely to benefit from an intervention, and to avoid interventions when they are likely to be ineffective, or worse still dangerous.
"We recognise that there are occasionally situations that do not fit the usual criteria, and individual funding requests can be made for such exceptional situations.
"In cases where BMI is an inappropriate way to judge whether an individual has reached optimum lean body weight, alternative validated measurements can be provided to support such requests.
"We advise that anyone in a similar situation should continue to work with their GP."
You can donate to Laura's page here.
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