AFTER years of pain and unhappiness AnnMarie Ferrer felt nothing but excitement as she prepared for her operation.
But what was a dream come true for the 27-year-old Californian quickly became a nightmare when her breast reduction surgery put her into a coma.
For the spa manager her surgery was never for vanity purposes as AnnMarie had endured years of pain and comments from strangers as a result of her 34H breasts.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, AnnMarie says: “I’d never liked having big breasts.
“Being a 34H and just 5 foot 3 meant that whatever I wore I had to deal with unwanted stares and comments from strangers.
“It was embarrassing and exhausting, and always left me feeling uncomfortable.
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“Then there was the back pain that came from having a large chest.
“The agony was endless, not helped by the fact that I couldn’t afford to pay the hundreds it costs for custom made underwear.
“Instead, I had to suffer in a too-small 32G bra.”
In 2020, AnnMarie decided enough was enough and at the age of 24 began looking into breast reduction surgery.
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“My cousin, who had the same size chest as me, had been through a successful breast reduction a few years before,” she recalls.
“I was thrilled to see the impact it had on her life.
“That gave me the push I needed to look into my own surgery.
“Unfortunately, even though it was for health as well as cosmetic reasons, I had to fund the £9000 myself.
“I was so excited to hear that I’d been approved for a loan for the surgery.”
AnnMarie went under the knife in December 2020 as an early Christmas present to herself.
She would drop down five cup sizes to a C with the support of her husband Zack, 28, and her family.
“Only my niece was worried,” AnnMarie says. “‘Please don’t do this AnnMarie,’ she begged when I told her about my plans. ‘You’re going to die.’
“I loved her for being worried about me but thought she was being melodramatic.
“Women had this surgery all the time and were absolutely fine. I knew I’d be the same.”
Going it alone
On December 22, AnnMarie went into hospital for her surgery alone due to Covid restrictions.
She says: “I had butterflies but I was so excited about my soon-to-be C cups that I smiled as I waited for the anaesthetic to kick in. Then I was out.”
However, waking up from the procedure wasn’t quite as relaxing.
She explains: “Waking up I felt a pain in my chest and was choking on something stuck down my throat. I was groggy but knew something wasn’t right.
I’d died on the operating table
“My panic grew as a team of medics suddenly surrounded me. Someone shouted about getting my heart rate down. Then everything went dark again.
“Waking for a second time the room was calmer. That’s when a nurse explained exactly what had happened to me.”
After just one incision in her right breast AnnMarie had begun to flush all over her body going into anaphylactic shock.
The potentially fatal reaction to the medication then saw AnnMarie go into cardiac arrest.
The nurse explained that AnnMarie had flatlined for an entire two minutes.
“I’d died on the operating table,” she says. “The pain in my chest was from doctors trying to restart my heart with a defibrillator.”
But AnnMarie was in for even more of a shock when doctors explained that once her heart had started beating again doctors had put her into a coma for 24 hours.
“The thing I’d felt in my throat when I’d woken up earlier that day had been a ventilator,” she says.
“And then I almost gone into cardiac arrest for a second time.
“My head was a mess. It was completely overwhelming.”
After coming round, AnnMarie wasn’t able to have any visitors due to covid restrictions, instead having video calls with her family.
“Seeing their faces made me desperate to be with them,” she says.
“I was incredibly weak and would need to prove that I could breathe normally before I’d be allowed to leave.
What does breast reduction surgery involve?
The surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic and will typically involve the following process:
- moving the nipple to its new position, typically while it is still attached to the blood supply
- removing excess fat, skin and glandular tissue from the breast
- reshaping the remaining tissue in the breast
- The operation typically takes between 90 minutes and four hours and most women are left with a scar around the nipple or along the breast crease.
Recovery takes two to six weeks and you should avoid strenuous exercise for six weeks after the operation.
What are the alternatives to breast reduction surgery?
It can be possible to reduce the issues caused by having larger boobs, such as:
- losing weight
- having a professional bra-fitting service to reduce discomfort
- physiotherapy to help with aches and pains
- psychological support to help cope with emotional issues
“I’d also have to walk three times around the ward but my determination was so strong that, against the odds, I did it.”
On Christmas Day, just two days after waking up from her coma, AnnMarie was discharged.
“It was a Christmas miracle,” she says. “My family was incredible. I couldn’t get out of bed or use the bathroom on my own, but
Zack was there to wash my face, feed me and brush my teeth.
“Dad went to the shops, did my hair and kept me company while Zack was at work. I had so much love and care from everyone.
“As for my breasts, in the rush to save my life there hadn’t been time for the doctors to stitch me up properly. Instead, they’d stapled my chest closed.
“It sounded awful and I didn’t want to see what I looked like beneath the bandages.”
A week later AnnMarie returned to have the surgery completed.
“I was terrified,” she admits.
“Doctors thought they knew which medication was responsible for my deadly reaction, and they also had a doctor operating on each of my breasts at once to keep surgery time to a minimum.
“Still, I was petrified. Thankfully I woke up to hear that it had all gone well, even though I was a C/D cup instead of the C I’d originally wanted.
“It’s a relief but not an experience I would ever want to repeat.”
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