Hoping that breast reduction surgery would give her a “new lease of life," a professional woman has spoken of her horror after a botched operation left her with a “third breast" under her armpit.
Opting to have her large E cup breasts reduced after suffering years of terrible backache, estate agent Ferrell Johnson, 65, of Marysville, California, USA, went under the knife in March 2017.
But, instead of the smaller bosom she was hoping for, Ferrell, who has been left with fat necrosis – a lump of dead and damaged tissue – said: “I've been left in a mess. I have a fat necrosis in my right breast, and a third breast- made up of fat and tissue – under my arm. The first time I saw the lump in the mirror, I cried and cried. I've always been a go-getter, so it isn't in my nature to feel this way."
Ferrell showing the lump under her arm (PA Real Life/Collect)
She added: “This has caused so many emotional issues. I'm constantly so conscious of what I wear and how I move, as the breast can fall out of the side of my top. I'm horrified at the thought of being seen in public like that."
Now Ferrell, whose procedure was covered by her medical insurance, faces complete reconstructive surgery if she wants to correct her breasts.
Always busty, she recalled reaching a D cup by the time she was 14 – with her bust continuing to grow when she gained weight over the years, which led to her experiencing back problems.
What is fat necrosis?
Fat necrosis is a medical term used to describe damaged or dead tissue.
The damage to the fatty tissue may occur following breast surgery.
This will include breast reconstruction/reductions, radiotherapy to the breast or needle biopsy.
Fat necrosis feels like a firm, round lump or lumps, and in some people it may feel tender or even painful.
The skin around the lump may look red or bruised. - NHS
She had long-planned to have reduction surgery – but the idea was put on the back-burner following the tragic death of her son Cortney, who took his own life in 2014, when he was 34.
“He was always so well loved, really charismatic and bright," she said. “After he passed, I could barely do anything. I struggled so much with my grief.
“My operation was supposed to be a way of me regaining my confidence and getting back out there – I can't believe this is how things turned out."
Ferrell (PA Real Life/Collect)
Meeting with a surgeon early last year, Ferrell hoped to go back down to a D cup – though ended up being taken to a B cup – and was not worried about what she thought was a routine operation.
She added: “I went under general anaesthetic for the procedure in March 2017, so by the time I woke up, the damage was already done."
Required to wear surgical bras and bandages, it took about two weeks for Ferrell to see what had actually happened – although she felt discomfort under her right arm, which she thought was just her body recovering.
Ferrell said her self-esteem has plummeted since her surgery
(PA Real Life/Collect)
“I was incredibly careful about keeping the area clean. I had a nurse friend help me out, and she wore surgical gloves to take my dressings off," she said.
“The first time I properly saw myself, I was home alone and caught sight of a lump in the mirror. I took a proper look and just burst into tears. It looked literally like a third breast."
Next, Ferrell began noticing a worrying fatty discharge, which she believes was coming from her breasts.
She continued: “I was excreting lumps out of my nipple. At first, they looked like long, thin worms, and I thought, 'Oh my god, what is that?' Then one day, a marble-sized piece of tissue fell away"
“Panicking, I raced to the emergency room of a nearby hospital, where they told me it looked like I'd had botched surgery"
“I was put on antibiotics, but I have been left with some fatty lumps that need removing. There's one piece of dead tissue in particular, measuring 0.78 inches by 1.1 inches, that causes severe pain."
Ferrell, pictured here with her son Joe(PA Real Life/Collect)
Ferrell believes her problems were caused by her skin being pulled too tight during her breast reduction surgery.
Now, her life turned upside down by what has happened, she is desperate to find another medic who can help reverse the damage.
Meanwhile, her confidence has plummeted and she is now living as a virtual recluse.
The lump under Ferrell's arm (PA Real Life/Collect)
She said: “I struggle to go anywhere without my son Joe, 46. He's had to take on an awful lot. I ask him to walk behind me to check that the lump under my arm isn't showing.
“It is softening and pushing back a little, but it's still a third breast under my arm.
“Unfortunately, as it was elective surgery – something I chose to do – I'm not in a position where I can take legal action, but really, all I want is to fix this."
NEW DATA: Four out of Five Surgeons Record Rise in Revisions for #Botched#CosmeticSurgery procedures https://t.co/GxzfXLJi8Z
— BAAPS Press Office (@BAAPSMedia) October 5, 2017
She added: “I can't believe I'm now having to consider a full reconstruction, including implants, so I can look normal again.
“My insurance company have said they would help cover it but I need to lose a little weight before I can have the surgery and I'm nervous to have another operation."
Desperate, Ferrell has even written to reality show Botched, asking for help but, for now, all she can do is wait.
Ferrell opted for a breast reduction after suffering with back pain
(PA Real Life/Collect)
She hopes that by sharing her story, she will encourage others to be cautious when selecting their own surgeons.
“I have nothing against people having surgery, but you must be thorough with finding your doctor. If they evade questions or don't make you feel 100 per cent comfortable, then avoid them," she said.
“Also, think very carefully and ensure you're positive surgery is a move you want to make. The past few years have been an awful lot to deal with, but I want my story out there to help other women."
A version of this article originally appeared on Press Association.