'Devastated' Fareham woman with 'deformed breasts' launches last ditch effort for surgery after NHS rejection

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A WOMAN who needs surgery because of a condition that has caused breast deformity is ‘devastated’ after being rejected by the NHS – and has launched a fundraiser as a last resort.

Andrea Cook thought she had cancer before she was diagnosed with tuberous breast syndrome four years ago after one breast became significantly larger than the other.

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But the 34-year-old, who has endured differences in her breasts since she was a teenager, was told she did not qualify for surgery through the NHS because her condition was classed as cosmetic.

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Andrea Cook from Fareham, who has tuberous breast syndromeAndrea Cook from Fareham, who has tuberous breast syndrome
Andrea Cook from Fareham, who has tuberous breast syndrome

The blow has left the Fareham woman seeking to raise the £4,000 cost to have surgery so she can have ‘normal’ breasts. She says the syndrome would also prevent her breastfeeding when she becomes a mother - adding a further incentive to go under the knife.

Ms Cook, who is a blue badge holder who survives on disability benefits, has turned to Go Fund Me to raise money for surgery with her struggling to work due to mobility issues after being diagnosed with hip dysplasia at birth. The condition leaves her ‘struggling to walk’ and in ‘severe pain’ with arthritis and needing regular injections.

Speaking of her battle to have corrective surgery on her breasts, which have ‘large ball shaped lumps’ - in particular the ‘worse affected’ right breast - she said: ‘Four years ago I was worried something was seriously wrong and that I might have cancer.

‘But after having an ultrasound I was diagnosed with tuberous breast syndrome.

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‘This has caused me significant anxiety growing up when I did not know what the cause was, and makes regular breast check-ups and medical appointments a requirement.

‘This has caused not insignificant distress and I just want my breasts to look normal and to preserve normal breast function, when they obviously look so deformed as the tissue was never right to begin with.

‘I have struggled mentally with this and am aware that the NHS see this as a “cosmetic” issue and will not fund reconstructive surgery.

‘It was devastating to get the news from the NHS that they would not cover the operation. I feel I’ve been left with nowhere to go. I’ve seen no information or advice about this condition from the NHS.

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‘Yet I’ve read that other women can be suicidal with this condition. I’ve personally suffered a lot with my self-esteem with this over the years.’

After seeing a consultant plastic surgeon Ms Cook was told the first operation alone would cost £4,000 due to the extent of the deformity.

Work would involve implantation of a tissue expander and implant to correct the hard deformed tissue and increase the breast tissue available.

A second operation would also be required to correct the abnormal placement of her breast tissue because the hypoplastic structure of the breasts would not be fully corrected through the first surgery.

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‘This situation has become so intolerable that I would like just to get the first surgery because any difference will mean a significant improvement to my condition and give me a chance of retaining normal breast function in the future,’ Ms Cook said.

Despite recently qualifying as a barrister after receiving disability support to study at Oxford University, Ms Cook said having the operation would remove the shackles and spare her more ‘wasted years’.

Advice by the NHS states the ‘availability of breast reduction surgery varies depending on the eligibility criteria decided by your local clinical commissioning group (CCG)’.

It adds that women could be considered for breast reduction on the NHS if they have ‘problems caused by having very large breasts’. These include things such as backache, skin irritation, inability to exercise and psychological distress.

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