As a 53 years old receptionist who loved working and was in the public eye, I was very happy and contented with my lifestyle. After discussing the idea with friends and reading a little on the subject, I decided that I wanted to freshen-up my appearance, to achieve a more even skin tone without makeup, and remove puffiness from above and below my eyes.
After consulting two plastic surgeons in Adelaide, Australia, I underwent simultaneous eye surgery and facial lasering. After the inevitable swelling and bruising of the procedures subsided, it became apparent that there was damage arising from the procedure.
A further two operations were performed to rectify the original. During these procedures, nerves in the right side of my face were damaged causing it to be partially paralysed and the brow and eye on that side to droop. There was also loss of full movement in my top and bottom lips. My whole appearance became quite lopsided.
The shock I felt at the disfigurement was devastating. My self-confidence plummeted and my distress continued to increase, as the doctors I approached for help advised either that there was nothing that could be done, or that they were unwilling to try or to become involved. I had gone from being a confident, outgoing and happy person to one who could only hold herself together while at work.
When I saw my reflected face, there was always, for me, the daily and starkly visible reminder of the surgery and the professional disregard I had experienced. I became despondent and depressed, increasingly isolated and desperate.
Some four years later, corrective surgery in Melbourne by Dr Bryan Mendelson, helped recover some of the damage. With the processes involved in taking legal action, my physical and emotional states were severely tested during this period. But now I have regained my self-confidence and my life. I lost over four years of my life and ended up tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Dr Mendelson worked with me to develop a plan for corrective surgery to recover my facial function and help restore my self-confidence. He helped me to understand and come to terms with the fact the paralysis to my face is permanent, but also that the damage it has done to me as a person is not. Because of what had already happened to me, my family and friends were very concerned at my having yet more surgery.
In the immediate three or four days after the operation, I felt assured that the outcome would be positive. Although this reconstructive surgery was far more involved and extensive, when compared to my previous experiences, this surgery had caused relatively little bruising, swelling and pain. Where the right side of my face had previously been somewhat immobile and droopy, there was immediately a noticeable, positive difference to the symmetry of my face.
After the surgery there was that sense of coming out of the shadows of an abyss and into the full light of a normal day. There was an immense sense of relief that I now appeared normal, even glamorous and attractive, which gave me much personal satisfaction. And as my face emerged so did I, with increasing confidence and a feeling of self-worth that I had not felt for a very long time.
I felt as if I had a new lease on life, reinvigorated and more confident, with less sense that people were looking at my odd facial appearance. Finally, after four years I was able to look into the mirror and see my face emerging without focussing on the disfigurements.