Skin peel left me scarred
A botched skin peel was only the start of my problems…
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.
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!