A woman who had a botched boob job by a surgeon who was later struck off has shared how badly it affected her self esteem.
Mother-of-two Leah Maynard had breast augmentation surgery in 2013 as she hoped it would help to boost her confidence.
But the surgery ended up leaving her with one breast bigger than the other, and Leah said she just felt embarrassed and ashamed.
The 35-year-old had been operated on by a plastic surgeon who was later struck off after a string of complaints.
She had hoped the procedure would boost her confidence – instead, it left it shattered.
“I wanted the surgery initially because I had breastfed my two children and I had lost all elasticity and volume,” she explained.
“I was a C cup before and I ended up a DD, so it wasn’t a massive difference. I just wanted them to look fuller again.”
But, in the hands of a bungling surgeon, who has since left the country, the breast augmentation went wrong.
“The pocket on the left breast had been made too large, enabling the implant to move about. It was very uneven and it wore away at the tissue,” Leah, from Preston, said.
“It completely knocked my confidence and I was so self-conscious.
“It was doing things like going swimming with the children or being on holiday that were the worst – you could see that one breast was larger than the other. It was very noticeable.
“I just thought it would fix itself, but it got worse. It took me years to trust another surgeon.”
Leah, who is a former dental nurse, would cover up wherever possible.
But last year, as she prepared to start a full-time university course, she finally decided to take the plunge and look for a new surgeon to put things right.
“I had time to think during lockdown and reassessed what was important so I decided to do something about it as it was affecting my quality of life,” she continued.
Leah wanted corrective surgery before she started her course so that she could concentrate on her studies without worrying about her body and health.
“I was so nervous,” she said. “The first time round I was naïve – I went into it thinking ‘he’s a registered surgeon’ so I trusted him. I thought I could just trust every surgeon.
“This time, I did lots of research and checked all the reviews. I just wanted to fix it and look normal again.”
Leah made an appointment for a consultation at Reflect Clinic in Manchester where she met consultant plastic surgeon Gerard Lambe.
“The first thing he did was to give me realistic expectations,” she said. “He told me what I could achieve and what I couldn’t.
“I was filled with emotion and I felt embarrassed. But he made me feel comfortable. Afterwards I received continuous support. The clinic even called me the next day to ask how I was.
“The main factor was that I trusted him. When I went in for the second consultation, he had arranged for another patient to talk to me, to give me the patient’s perspective. He could see my vulnerability and he wanted to help me.”
Leah agreed to have the corrective procedure and underwent the op in January with an overnight stay at the Spire Hospital in Manchester.
The original implants were removed and replaced under the muscle, with the previous damage repaired.
Leah, who has a son, 12, and an eight-year-old daughter, has hailed the surgery as ‘life-changing’.
“I was absolutely amazed with the results – they exceeded all my expectations,” she said.
“It means I can concentrate properly on my studies.
“It has been life-changing for me. I just feel lighter and I am so much happier in myself now I know my body is OK. There was a risk that it would have started to wear away the skin, so it was a worry.
“Now I’ve got peace of mind, not just aesthetically, but knowing that my body is healthy.”
She advises anyone considering surgery to ‘go for it’ – but to carry out research first. And to not be put off amid coronavirus as extra safety measures are currently in place at clinics.
Reflect Clinic Director Joanna Lambe echoed Leah’s advice about research as she urged potential patients to avoid clinics that are focused on price or who do not offer the chance to meet the surgeon beforehand.
“First visit their website and social media pages to see if their ethos is in line with what’s important to you,” she said.
“Then ask do you feel safe in the hands of your cosmetic surgeon? Can you meet them before they operate on you? You can go on review sites to see how experienced and skilled your cosmetic surgeon is and see the results they have achieved with before and after photographs.
“Cosmetic surgery can really impact on a woman’s life in a positive way as we have heard time and time again, so hearing patient stories is a very positive part of their journey and helping them to feel good about themselves is the best part of our job.”
Gerard Lambe added that building a relationship of trust between the surgeon and patient was a top priority.
“We are very lucky that we can say no to patients that we think have body issues or are not in the right frame of mind, or ‘the right place’ to make a decision on cosmetic surgery,” he said.
“We see them at least twice for their consultation so that they can be sure that they want to go ahead. We also encourage them to ask friends and family and discuss it fully.
“To help them decide on the right sized implants we use virtual reality breast software so they can see their breasts in different sizes and in different clothes to achieve the look they desire.”
Joanna also said inquiries about cosmetic surgery procedures had surged during lockdown – with a particular rise in upper eyelift surgery, breast surgery, ‘mummy makeovers’ and labiaplasty surgery.
She added: “Lockdown led to people being increasingly sat at home thinking about and reassessing what they want in life.
“They have spent a lot of time on Zoom or Facetime calls for work or with family, which has made them look at themselves with new eyes.”