Woman told her 34J breasts could ‘crush her spine’ crowdfunds private reduction surgery

Marie Claire Dorking
·8-min read

Watch: Student warned her 34J breasts could “crush her spine” has them reduced

A woman who was warned her 34J breasts could “crush her spine” has them reduced after crowdfunding for a private operation.

Amber Roach, 21, a law student from Bushey, Hertfordshire, claims she was warned she might need a wheelchair unless she had surgery, but was turned down for a breast reduction on the NHS.

Having raised £5,000 to help fund surgery, the petite 5ft 3in sales assistant had her 34J breasts reduced to a 32D and is now looking forward to the future.

Roach had 1.6kg of breast tissue removed in a two-and-a-half hour procedure on 16 November and is now getting used to life without the need of “an industrial strength bra”.

“I look at myself side-on in the mirror now and my boobs actually fit in the reflection, not 10m across the room. It is so different,” she explains.

Amber Roach before and after her breast reduction. (PA Real Life/Alex Fobbester)
Amber Roach before and after her breast reduction. (PA Real Life/Alex Fobbester)

“I got a sports bra from my sister, Robyn, for Christmas and went for a short run. Not getting a black eye was amazing.

“One of the things I really want to do in 2021, if the pandemic is over, is to go backpacking – I 100% wouldn’t have been able to do that before. It was already like carrying a backpack on my front.”

Read more: M&S launches contactless bra fitting so you can get socially distanced advice during the coronavirus pandemic

Instead of asking for presents for her 21st birthday on 22 September, Roach decided to crowdfund for a breast reduction operation.

Launching a GoFundMe page on 6 September, she hit her £5,000 target within a fortnight, even receiving £2,500 from a single donor, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Amber Roach before surgery. (PA Real Life)
Amber Roach before surgery. (PA Real Life)

Roach needed a breast reduction, a breast lift and liposuction, which would normally cost £10,000, but after hearing of her plight cosmetic surgeon Dr Reza Alamouti waived his usual fee.

This meant the £5,000 she had raised was sufficient to pay for her to have the procedure on 16 November at The London Welbeck Hospital in Marylebone, London.

For years, Roach’s disproportionately large breasts, had hampered her life, being too heavy and cumbersome for her to continue playing sport, go on mile runs or work out in the gym.

A netball fan, she recalls having to have her chest bandaged down before a match, after her sports bra failed to take the strain.

Even simple household chores, like loading the dishwasher, became back-breaking labour.

Roach felt constantly aware of her breasts attracting unwelcome attention and it started affecting her confidence and self-worth.

“I used to be really angry and blame my boobs for not being able to do certain things,” she explains. “They were like the central force behind all my other issues.

“I wallowed in finding myself unattractive.”

Watch: Woman denied breast reduction despite living in agony.

Roach was just 14 when she first noticed her then DD boobs setting her apart from her classmates at school.

She said: “I used to get the most ridiculous questions from classmates like, ‘Do you stuff tissue down your bra?’ or ‘Are they real?’ and ‘Have you had them done?’

“What parent would let their 14-year-old get a boob job? As if I would have had surgery at that age.”

With her boobs an even bigger 34G by the time she joined the sixth form, Roach became increasingly self-conscious.

“I just remember them looking ridiculous – cartoonish, like Jessica Rabbit,” she says.

“Teachers would tell me off for dressing inappropriately, when all I’d have on was a turtleneck, but it would be tight.

“Other girls would wear the same thing and not get told off. I just felt like anything I wore was more sexualised than other students.”

Read more: Women wearing this size bra are the most satisfied with their breasts

Amber Roach in her surgical bra - the first photo she took after her surgery (PA Real Life)
Amber Roach in her surgical bra - the first photo she took after her surgery. (PA Real Life)

Roach, who has received physiotherapy since she was 14, because of back pain from her breasts, said it became so bad that she asked her GP for a reduction on the NHS.

But she was told to wait until she was 18, when she was again refused, despite her boobs by then being a J cup.

“I opened the NHS letter saying no and just burst out crying,” she explains.

When she moved to study law at the University of Leeds in 2019, Amber said she felt judged because of her large breasts, rather than because of her brains or personality.

“It was like having big boobs was an invitation for both sexes to touch me, too,” she explains.

“That’s why I always saw them so negatively, because they brought the wrong attention.”

Roach also weathered cruel comments from other women.

“It was 50/50 with men and women,” she explains.

“Women would stare and say, ‘Jesus Christ, look at those boobs.’ They were clearly almost freakish.”

Six months ago, Roach could not get out of bed for a month, because of back pain caused by the weight of her breasts, forcing her to take prescribed painkillers.

Around the same time, her third NHS referral for a reduction was postponed due to COVID-19, which proved the catalyst for taking matters into her own hands.

“I’d been told by my physiotherapist that if I didn’t carry on doing the Pilates exercises she had taught me, I might end up in a wheelchair or have severe issues in middle age because my spine could crumble,” she explains.

Read more: Melanie Griffith, 63, looks incredible as she poses in lingerie for breast cancer awareness month

So, in September, encouraged by her housemates, Roach launched her GoFundMe page.

A trickle of donations from family and friends became a flood when Roach’s story was spotted by the media and she hit her £5,000 target in two weeks – with £2,500 coming from a single donor.

“He told me he had a similar issue, where he needed surgery. It was the mental health aspect of my GoFundMe that appealed to him. He didn’t want mine to get as bad as his did,” Roach explains.

When Harley Street cosmetic surgeon Dr Alamouti, director of New You, offered his services for free, she finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

During the two-and-a-half hour operation, Dr Alamouti removed 1.6kg of breast tissue, moving Roach’s nipples 15cm.

She was left with anchor shaped scars on her chest that will fade over the next 18 months, but will not disappear.

Following the operation Roach recalls not being able to sleep because she was so excited about her new, smaller breasts: “When I went to the toilet for the first time, I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, where have they gone?’

“I thought, ‘Well done.’ I felt like I had accomplished something.”

Amber Roach before and after her breast reduction. (PA Real Life/ Alex Fobbester)
Amber Roach before and after her breast reduction. (PA Real Life/ Alex Fobbester)

Read more: We've been putting our bras on wrong

Required to wear a surgical bra for six weeks, Roach could not do any heavy-lifting for a month after the operation.

But now she is looking forward to buying affordable, pretty underwear and bikinis from the high street, rather than shopping at more expensive, specialist websites.

The operation has also helped with her confidence, and having deferred the first term of her second year of university to have the surgery, Roach says she is looking forward to achieving her goal to become a lawyer, without her oversized boobs holding her back.

She also hopes she has helped to pave the way for other young women who are unhappily living with very large breasts, to talk about their feelings and maybe find a way to learn to love themselves without taking the drastic action she has.

“I really had reached the end of the road,” she explains. “My breasts were making me unhappy and they were impacting on my physical health.

“I am incredibly grateful to the people who made my surgery possible, but I’ve said to many girls on social media not to feel under pressure to have a boob reduction.

“Unless it is affecting their health, they should try to learn to love them.”

Dr Alamouti advises young women to first speak to their GP to see if they qualify for a reduction on the NHS, to see a physiotherapist to make sure they have a properly fitted bra and to research surgeons properly before deciding to go private.

“I know how difficult and debilitating very large breasts can be,” he said.

“The issue isn’t just the physical problems, but the psychological distress. Having this operation can change lives for people like Amber.”

Additional reporting PA Real Life.

Watch: Gemma Collins wants a breast reduction

Subscribe Now
Subscribe Now