Woman whose boobs weigh four stone left ‘heartbroken’ by op rejection

A woman was left devastated after her application for breast reduction was rejected by the NHS.

Charlotte Rowley-Stennings breasts weigh two stone each and can get in the way of her day-to-day life.

The 26-year-old has described being in so much pain she struggles to stand to wash the pots at her kitchen sink.

So she is desperate for a breast reduction with the NHS – not just to relieve her physical pain, but to ease her anxiety, which she receives medication for.

However, just weeks ago, her application was rejected and is now in the process of appealing the decision with the help of her GP, as she cannot afford the £9,000 operation privately as reported by Manchester Evening News.

Charlotte, from Burnage, has to fork out hundreds of pounds on bras each year, which can sometimes break after just a month of wear.

If her breasts grow just one further cup size, she will have to get them specially made at a cost of up to £140 per bra.

She tries to cover up when she leaves her house, but can’t help attracting attention from men, she says, which makes her self-conscious.

“I was heartbroken when I found out I was rejected,” Charlotte told MEN.

“It’s not for aesthetic reasons, my back is in bits. I’m trying to gather as much evidence as possible to appeal, I have the support from my GP and the Wythenshawe breast clinic, who weighed my boobs, and I’m about to have an X-ray to see the impact they have on my spine.

“I’m on medication for my anxiety because it affects me mentally. I find it horrific how a boob reduction can cost £9,000 but a boob job is £6,000.

“It’s not fair. I understand why women would want to get a boob job if they had really small boobs, but I can’t understand why women would want to go massively over the top with a boob job.

“I have that naturally and I wish I hadn’t. People say ‘it’s great having big boobs' but it really isn’t.”

Charlotte suffers from skin irritation, cysts and sores that form under her breasts, which can worsen in the warmer months and create an odour.

A trick she has learnt is to place a sanitary towel underneath her bra to absorb the moisture.

Even so, earlier this year during the heatwave in March, her breast tore slightly after chafing.

She has difficulty in her job too, working with young children in reception at a primary school, which often involves lifting the children.

As early as Year 7 at Levenshulme High School for girls, Charlotte, then a cup-size C, felt different and was labelled ‘fat’ by other pupils.

She had to buy larger polo tops and felt compelled to get changed for PE in the bathroom instead.

“They would say ‘eww you’ve got veiny boobs or eww you’re fat’. I have always been big-chested but always had a small back.

"I’ll buy medium pants but have to buy XL tops. My family told me to not take any notice, ‘they’re just jealous’ they’d say.

“But it really started to affect me, and by around Year 10 I tried to lose weight. I wouldn’t eat properly, I would skip meals and say I was ‘full’.”

Once Charlotte turned 16, she got into a relationship with an older friend, 18, who she worked with at a coach company.

But when she was walking alone in public, she could sense comments being made about her.

“If I was with my boyfriend, nothing was said, but when I was on my own I would get funny looks and could hear comments being said, like ‘look at her’,” Charlotte explained. “It wasn’t nice.”

She has now been with her current partner for the past four years, and when she goes on nights out with her friends, she feels the need to wear a pretend engagement ring to detract unwelcome attention from men.

When men do approach her, she finds they gaze at her chest instead of looking at her in the eye.

“I went on a night out recently with girls from work, and I could feel eyes looking at me, men looking at me, you could hear them making certain comments telling their mates to look at me,” she said.

“I can’t ever find anything to wear that I feel comfortable in.

"I went to an event with my boyfriend and bought a new top for the occasion, and I felt good in myself. But once I was out, I changed my mind, I was so self-conscious I kept pulling it up.

“I asked my partner if I could wear his hoody pretending I was cold, but really it was so I could cover-up.” Charlotte has spent years going back and forth with doctors about her discomfort, who in the past told her to lose weight.

She attended the gym, but still couldn’t shift the weight off her chest, she says, and instead, they got bigger.

At the age of 16, Charlotte was cup size F, at 18 – JJ, at 21 – KK, and from 22-years-old, she became an L cup.

“I struggle to exercise,” Charlotte said. “I struggle to go for a run, or a jog, I’d have to wear two sports bras and it’s hard enough to find one that fits.

“I have a fear of people watching me run, people beeping their car horns.”

Charlotte is also concerned about her family history of breast cancer, and how big her breasts could grow if she were to fall pregnant, particularly as there is a chance she could have twins – both she and her partner have a set of twins in their families.

She dreams of being a D-F cup, and argues the reduction operation would change her life. “I’d be over the moon,” she said.

“I’d be able to wear things that people my age do and not have to cover up as much. I would feel a lot more confident. I could wear nice underwear – I can’t buy a matching set currently.

“I struggle to sleep, I have to lay a particular way on my left side with my arm up. It would take a lot of strain off my back and would make my life so much easier.”

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She added: “It is a health issue. It’s affecting my job, my lifestyle, and my mental health. I had an anxiety attack last year in my car and now receive therapy.

“The NHS should provide for big-boobed women; we haven’t asked for this, we come how we are, and I’m not happy with the fact I have big boobs.

"You pay your taxes so you’d hope the NHS would help you out."

Charlotte is speaking out about her daily struggles in a bid to raise awareness of women with extremely large breasts and wishes to help others in a similar situation.

She has begun documenting her journey on Instagram – @chaz.br – sharing her experiences of the reduction application process.

Manchester Health and Care Commissioning has been approached for a comment. The availability of breast reduction surgery on the NHS varies, depending on the eligibility criteria decided by your local clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Some CCGs do not fund breast reduction surgery at all, and others fund it selectively if you fulfil certain criteria. For more information, speak to your GP or visit here for more information.

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