Skin peel left me scarred

A botched skin peel was only the start of my prob­lems…

Chat - - Contents - By Mary Hope, 42, from Sut­ton Cold­field

We’ve all got bits of our bod­ies we love, and those we hate.

I’ve al­ways loved my 36F boobs, but I hated my face – specif­i­cally, the acne scars on my chin.

They weren’t ter­ri­ble, but they both­ered me when­ever I looked in the mir­ror.

So, in 2009, af­ter watch­ing Chan­nel 4’s 10 Years Younger, I had an idea.

‘I want a chem­i­cal peel,’ I told my hus­band John, now 41.

The process uses liq­uids brushed onto the face to re­move dead skin cells and stim­u­late the growth of new cells, evening out skin tone.

‘You don’t need it,’ John said. ‘But, if it makes you happy, do it.’

So, us­ing money from my mum, in Fe­bru­ary 2009, I paid about £1,000 for the peel at an ap­par­ently rep­utable clinic.

As the doc­tor painted the fluid onto my face, with ex­tra lay­ers on my chin, it was agony.

‘It feels like my skin’s burn­ing,’ I cried.

‘That’s all part of it,’ he ex­plained, re­as­sur­ing me.

When I left the clinic that Fri­day, my face was red with a blue tint, which was meant to peel off within a week.

But, next morn­ing, my chin was throb­bing badly. And, by the Sun­day, it was ooz­ing pus and smelt dis­gust­ing.

‘That’s not right,’ John and my now late mum MaryJane fret­ted.

Con­cerned, I phoned the clinic’s emer­gency num­ber.

No an­swer.

When I spoke to some­one on the Mon­day, I was told it was nor­mal.

Only, come the Wed­nes­day, I was in ut­ter agony.

Thank­fully, an­tibi­otics cleared up the scab­bing and ooz­ing.

But then I no­ticed the skin on my chin was red, an­gry, and so tight, I couldn’t open my mouth or talk prop­erly.

Back at the clinic, the doc­tor looked at me in hor­ror.

‘It’s scarred!’ he said. ‘I’m afraid it’s per­ma­nent.’ Turned out I’d de­vel­oped cel­luli­tis – a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion of the deep lay­ers of the skin.

I looked like a burns vic­tim.

Re­ferred for steroid in­jec­tions, they didn’t make any dif­fer­ence.

Des­per­ate, I con­tacted acid-at­tack sur­vivor Katie Piper via e-mail. She was lovely, and rec­om­mended a doc­tor in Har­ley Street, Lon­don.

And, on 23 De­cem­ber 2009, I was fit­ted with a com­pres­sion mask to limit the dam­age to my cheeks and chin. Look­ing like Han­ni­bal Lecter, I had to wear it 24/7 for two years, only tak­ing it off to eat.

When I wore it into

All I’d wanted was to get rid of acne scars on my chin

school, where I’m a teacher, the chil­dren were bril­liant.

‘We think you’re still pretty, Miss,’ they told me.

But not ev­ery­one was as un­der­stand­ing as they were…

Strangers stared and pointed. On a school trip to a mu­seum, a group of stu­dents ran off, scream­ing in mock hor­ror.

My con­fi­dence was shat­tered. I was on anti-de­pres­sants, at my low­est ebb.

Still, I plas­tered on a smile for John and our kids, Sean, then 5, and Iso­bel, 2.

And, af­ter le­gal ac­tion in sum­mer 2010, the clinic set­tled out of court, and I was awarded some money – not that any amount could com­pen­sate.

Fi­nally, in 2011, I fin­ished wear­ing the mask and my skin looked a lot bet­ter.

The fol­low­ing year, I had our third child Ja­cob. By then, I’d got used to cov­er­ing the faint scars with make-up. And, two years on, I fell preg­nant again.

But, at five months, I no­ticed a lump in my right boob, as big as a golf ball. There was breast can­cer in the fam­ily, so my GP re­ferred me to Queens Hospi­tal, Bur­ton, for a mam­mo­gram.

‘I can see a sus­pi­cious mass,’ the doc­tor said.

An­other scan and biopsy re­vealed what I’d been dread­ing.

‘It’s a very rare but ag­gres­sive can­cer,’ a doc­tor ex­plained. ‘Triple neg­a­tive pleo­mor­phic breast can­cer.’

John broke down, but I went onto au­topi­lot. All that mat­tered was be­ing alive for my chil­dren.

‘Take my boob off,’ I in­sisted. ‘Take them both!’

‘We’ll have to take the baby out first,’ the doc­tor ex­plained.

At that point, I was just 31 weeks gone. So, a week later, on 28 May 2014, Evie was de­liv­ered by Cae­sarean, weigh­ing just 4lb, and she was taken to Spe­cial Care.

As the can­cer was so ag­gres­sive, I be­gan chemo a week later. All I wanted was to hold Evie in my arms, bond with her, feed her. But I couldn’t.

Tests showed I’d the BRCA1 gene mu­ta­tion, which only con­firmed my de­ci­sion to have a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy.

Two months on, Evie was dis­charged, and, on 23 De­cem­ber, I had surgery to re­move my breasts.

I’d al­ways loved them, but I didn’t give a hoot about los­ing them.

‘All that mat­ters is be­ing a mum,’ I vowed.

Ad­vised not to have re­con­struc­tive surgery im­me­di­ately, I sewed pad­ding into my bras, and got on with it.

I bat­tled through hav­ing four lymph nodes re­moved, plus ra­dio­ther­apy on my neck, and un­der my arms and chest, to mop up any re­main­ing cells.

In Jan­uary, I had re­con­struc­tion. The sur­geon took fat from my tummy to put into my boobs, which are now a pert size 36C. I love them! I used to love my boobs and hate my face.

Now, both have changed.

And I’ve re­alised that the most im­por­tant thing is that I’ll be around to see my kids grow up.

I was in agony

My scars are per­ma­nent I had to wear this mask for two years

Theyõre beau­ti­ful Noth­ing mat­ters more than this lot!

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