A WOMAN says she was forced to fork out £6,000 for a private breast reduction after the NHS said she was too overweight – despite being a size 8.
Emily Legge, 23, from Cardiff suffered from agonising back and shoulder pain from her huge 32K boobs since she was 15.
Emily said: “My breasts just kept on growing as I got older and I was very self-conscious about them.
“I would get comments about how big my boobs were when I was running or playing sports.”
She went to her GP at the age of 19 to request a breast reduction, but was left devastated by the GP’s comments on her weight.
Her body mass index (BMI) was 27, putting her in the ovweight range of 25 and 29.9, compared to a healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9.
Because Emily needed to have a BMI of 25 in order to be eligible for a breast op on the NHS, the doctor said she would need to lose some weight.
The availability of breast reduction surgery on the NHS varies depending on where you live, and eligibility can depend on a number of factors including weight, age or whether someone smokes.
Emily, a graduate who lives in London, said: “At the time, I was a size 8 in clothing, although I would have to wear larger sizes on top to fit my big bust.
“I was also very healthy and active. I trained at the gym, I did every competitive sport in school and played hockey.
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“I had a healthy diet. On a typical day, I would drink a smoothie for breakfast, eat a chicken salad for lunch and have a home-cooked meal prepared by mum for dinner.
“When the doctors told me my BMI was too high, I just felt hopeless and demoralised. I was like what else could I possibly do?
“I was an impressionable nineteen-year-old at the time and the idea that I was overweight in the doctor’s eyes just destroyed me.
“I thought everything my GP said was true and I gave up.”
Feeling hopeless, Emily gave up on healthy eating and exercising altogether and piled on the pounds.
She would eat toast and eggs followed by pastries and coffee from Starbucks for breakfast, a sandwich meal deal with crisps and chocolate for lunch, and cheesy pasta with garlic bread and chips for dinner.
Every day she drank at least one litre of Coke.
Emily said: “I lost interest and confidence in myself after that doctors appointment. For the next five years, I stopped exercising and I started eating far too much.
“I would snack on crisps and chocolate and would drink a litre of coke every day.
“I thought what’s the point of caring about what I eat if I’m overweight?
“Throughout those years, of course my boobs remained a constant issue for me too.”
Emily, who has always struggled to get bras that fit, said: “My boobs have been a health issue for me since I was very young.
“My chest was really heavy and big for my 5ft 4 inches frame.
“They were so disproportionate to my body and I was in constant daily pain due to the weight of my bust.
“I suffered from terrible back and shoulder pain. It was impossible to find a good bra and I would often have to hold my boobs in place because they weighed so much.”
Emily tipped the scales at 15 stone at her heaviest, in January 2021.
But last year, she decided to lose the six stone she gained and change her lifestyle for the better.
A typical day would start with wholemeal toast with peanut butter for breakfast, followed by an omelette and salad for lunch and salmon with sweet potato and veg for dinner.
Although Emily did not need to lose weight to get a breast reduction through private surgery, she wanted to improve her health.
She used £6,000 of her own savings, and a little help from her parents, to pay for private surgery to get her breasts reduced to a C/D cup.
Emily said: “I realised what I was doing wasn’t healthy and I had been going down a bad route since that GP appointment.
“I decided that I wanted to lose weight for me.
“Initially, I just focused on my mindset and making small changes that were healthy.
“I started doing Couch to 5k and running every other day and I cut down my daily one litre of coke habit.
“I tried to make healthy food swaps like fruit and yoghurt or a piece of dark chocolate instead of a huge bag of chocolate or crisps.
“I focused on eating more vegetables and making that a huge part of my plate. I didn’t weigh myself much or count calories.
“But before I knew it, I was going to the gym and drinking water instead of coke. The weight just came off.”
By September 2021, Emily had lost the six stone she had gained and went for surgery on September 10, 2021.
After having the huge weight of her chest taken away by surgeons at The Phoenix Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, Emily is happier than ever and weighs a lean eight-and-a-half stone.
Emily said: “I feel so much happier now. I’ve got more energy and confidence – especially after the breast reduction.
“My back and body doesn’t hurt on a daily basis anymore either.
“I knew I didn’t want to go back to the NHS after my experience with them.
“I took what the GP said as the absolute truth. It derailed me for many years but now I can see that the BMI system is so outdated.
“I’m so grateful that I found a way to pay for my surgery. But so many women can’t get life-changing breast reductions on the NHS and that feels so wrong to me.”
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