Samantha’s quality of life was going to change on the 12th of May 2015. The excitement, anxiety and anticipation was intense. Samantha was about to embark on a journey to improve her well-being, confidence and ultimately her quality of life. I am privileged and sadden to be sharing Sam’s story.
Sam like me, has four beautiful children and is exceptionally grateful (most of the time). As a mum of a big family, you learn to become selfless and gain a greater understanding of unconditional love. It becomes increasingly difficult to spend money on yourself. To pamper yourself or to have any form of elective surgery, is not only guilt provoking but still taboo. For Sam, she never had what some would consider the luxury of large breasts. Sam was of below average breast size prior to having children, so 4 babies later, she was less than average with empty sagging breasts. Sam always wanted full looking breast that were big enough to make her feel like a woman. This may sound somewhat vein but how you feel about yourself is not something others should judge or dissected. Having had surgery prior to children and left deflated post children I feel immense empathy for Sam. I totally get it, why should Sam or I or anyone feel unworthy to love ourselves because we have become mums. Crazy right! Good on Sam for identifying and acting on her needs, and looking after herself. With Sam’s new-found confidence, everyone in her life would reap the benefits.
Prior to having children Sam was a hard worker, like us all. Sam put her career on hold and devoted her time to her children. Sam is ambitious, intelligent, and wants to provide the best for her family. Sam is currently finishing her Bachelor of Nursing Degree. I did my degree with only one baby, I can’t imagine where Sam finds the time with four children at home. Sam did not want to put her family under financial strain and did not have the money simply sitting around. Sam took the plunge and was approved for a personal loan. Taking on debt was stressful but the benefits were intended to out-way the low repayments. Sam is still paying this loan off. The heartbreaking part is, had the surgery gone well and Sam felt confident, the loan would be no issue. The loan is now a constant reminder of this terrible journey. The brutal life lessons a patient in Australia should not have to learn, especially the hard way.
Sam researched the net for about a month before finding an impressive website of a plastic surgeon, and went to consult for surgery on the 12th of May. Of Sam’s own omission, she was excited and wanted her new breasts yesterday. Sam was eager to look and feel amazing. Impressed with the surgeon and feeling trust for the doctor, Sam booked her surgery. I must note, the surgeon was not a FRACS plastic surgeon, was not board certified in any country, despite portraying differently. Sam booked surgery for the 12th of June 2015.
What happened next Sam has written first hand;
All my life I wanted to get breast implants, as naturally I never developed much and after having four children, what I had was saggy. One day on Facebook, I saw an advertisement pop up for breast augmentation at a price of $5990 here in Brisbane. I was excited about the idea and thought with it being done here in Australia. What could go wrong? After discussions with my fiancé, a week later I contacted the company.
On the 12th of May 2015, I travelled up to Brisbane to have my consultation with the surgeon. I remember being so nervous as I had never shown anyone my breasts before (besides my fiancé). In the room, he asked a few questions about what I wanted and what I was hoping to achieve. I did not really have any ideas of size all I knew was I wanted more than what I had. Then it was time for me to removed my top so he could do a few measurements. During this time, his phone started to ring and he stopped what he was doing and answered it. I was standing there half naked feeling very uncomfortable. After the phone call, he said “I give my patients my personal mobile number so they can call me anytime they need to”. While that sounded great on his behalf, I was thinking he could have waited until he was finished with me. Following that, I put on a crop top and he started stuffing implants down my top so I could see what size I was happy with. I ended up choosing 420cc.
After my consultation, I was sent home with paperwork about the procedure and was told to call if I was happy to go ahead. Thinking about it now, I was in such a rush and the thought that I could finally have some breasts took over. So the following day I called back and was booked in for the 12th of June 2015. I sent back all the required forms and paid the balance owing to the company. I was then waiting for information from the day surgery to come through so I could send the final payment they required.
On the morning of the surgery I was nervous but also excited. My mum came with me, as my fiancé could not get time off work, so together we drove up to the day hospital. Once we arrived, we were seated in the waiting room until I was called, which was roughly two hours later. In the pre-op bay, I had a quick check over. The surgeon then came in to draw me up and make sure I had no final questions. I was then taken to the operating theatre. Upon waking, I was surprise to be in minimal pain, all I felt was slight pressure on my chest. After roughly an hour in recovery I was taken into another room where I was given coffee, biscuits, and a little gift from the hospital. It contained a candle, scar serum and a few other little bits and pieces. I was there for about another hour until my mum arrived back and then I could go home.
The first week was great. I had minimal pain and from what I could see, my new breasts looked perfect. A week later I went back to see the surgeon to get my stitches removed and have a proper look at my new breasts. I was so ecstatic and he was also happy with how they looked. I then laid down on a procedure bed and he removed the stiches. The right side came out easily but when he did the left side I felt a sharp pain that made me jolt slightly but I didn’t think anything of it and thought it was normal.
The week following the stitches being removed, my left breast was becoming so tender and ached frequently compared to my right which had no pain or discomfort. Then, one night, I went to have a shower and once I was done and dying myself, I felt something dripping down my stomach. Thinking it was just water I wiped it. Again I felt the stream running down my stomach. Looking down I noticed it was a yellow/pink colour and saw it was coming from my left breast. I scream out to my fiancé who came running and saw what was happening, he said to get in touch with the surgeon. The surgeon told me to come and see him so 2-3 days later I did. While there, he took a swab of the fluid to send away to pathology, then said, “this can happen, keep it dry and covered and it should heal”. He didn’t seem overly concerned about it so I left hoping what he said was true.
After roughly a week of fluid coming out it finally closed. I was over the moon and thought everything would get back to normal. However, over the next few days, the left breast started to hurt again, was hot to touch and started to swell which lead to the wound opening again and more fluid seeping out. I went back to see the surgeon who again was trying to assure me that my breast is just taking longer to heal. Over the next couple of months this process continued.
Towards the end, my left breast was so swollen, that I thought it had stopped leaking for good. However, the skin that was growing over it was lumpy and very thin and squishy (not like normal scar tissue). That stayed for about a week then late one night when it opened again there was a horrible black mark (I have now learnt it was the implant being exposed). I was freaking out as you can expect, then next minute I felt something sticky. I rushed to the bathroom and I took off my support crop to see silicon was now coming out of the wound. I remember just screaming, wondering what to do. I messaged my surgeon who at first didn’t believe me but once I showed him a photo, he could see it was silicon. He told me to come and see him the next day but I was so scared and wanted to do something now. So my fiancé drove me to the local hospital. At first no one at the hospital believed me, asking me “are you sure its silicon”, that was until I showed them. For the first hour, word went around of what happened and I had a few nurses coming in asking to have a look as they have never heard of or seen anything like this. I was given an ultrasound and spent the night in hospital. In the morning, I saw the Plastic’s team. First, he sat me down and looked over the ultrasound report and could not see any sign on a rupture. He asked if he could have a look and when he saw it, I could see shock hit his face. He said that I was butchered and he was disgusted by what he saw, even mentioning my right breast was a horrible job from the way it sat and looked. It was then he told me there was difference between cosmetic and plastic surgeon, his words were “A cosmetic surgeon is basically just a doctor who decides to start doing surgical procedures, they don’t do the same training as a plastic surgeon”. Hearing that made me feel upset and angry. He told me the best thing to do, would be to go back to the butcher and get it removed.
I phoned the surgeon who booked me in for two days later and he said I would need to pay $2000 for the hospital fee’s. Upon arriving at the day hospital, I saw the receptionist who booked me in and told me to take a seat. Here I was thinking maybe I don’t need to pay any hospital fees, however, a couple of hours later the surgeon took me aside into his office and asked if I brought the money with me. I handed over the money, then he said I will be taken into theatre shortly (I was never given or sent out a receipt to show what that money was used for). After surgery I woke up crying, it could have been the anaesthesia doing wonders on me. I remember saying I look like a freak and was demanding to see the explant. The nurses replied “no you don’t look like a freak and that I couldn’t see the explant as the surgeon had taken it away to examine. After two hours, the surgeon came to see me and said the “explant was removed successfully and he did a good clean inside”. He then said to contact him in three month to organise getting it replaced however, I would have to pay another $2000.
The first week after surgery was horrible, I felt disgusting and was embarrassed about the way I looked. Then again, the left breast started to get sore and swelled up to the same size as the right. While at home, my top all of sudden felt saturated. I went into the bathroom to have a look in the mirror and when I lifted my breast to look, fluid was spraying all over the mirror, it was gushing out everywhere. I got some paper towels and put it against the wound to try stop it going everywhere. I would have saturated at least 15-20 paper towels (I kept all the saturated paper towels in a snap lock bag in case I needed to go to the hospital and they could see just how much fluid came out). When it started to slow down pus was coming out and it stopped roughly after an hour. After that episode, it finally closed for good.
About a year after, I found a plastic surgery group on Facebook and upon telling my story I found a group of women who have also been done wrong by the same surgeon. One day, I decided to do my own investigation to find out what had happened to my explant, after it was removed. I contacted the surgeon and asked for the report from the manufacturer. His reply was, “the implant will be provided for free from the manufacturer, please let me know when you will like to get that done”. I replied with “I will be going for revision elsewhere but I want the report from the explant that was sent back”. He went on to say that this will be provided for free and gave me the medical reps name. Knowing I would get no information from the surgeon, I decided to email the manufacturer myself, to get answers. After contacting the company for the report, they replied with, “they were not made aware of the removal until early March (four months after removal) and by this time the explant was not available and it had been disposed of by the hospital. All that was sent to them, was some photos of the implant after removal”. I wrote back asking if the replacement has already been authorised? (as this is what the surgeon told me). They replied with, “they are awaiting a response and will let me know as soon they hear”. After three months of nothing I emailed them back again asking on an update. They replied saying they have approval for a replacement even though they never received the removed implant. After this I decided to give up on it all. I just had enough of the whole drama and wanted to get on with my life.
As of today, I still have only the one implant in the right breast which I believe is either ruptured or something else going on inside, as it is lumpy and sits completely wrong. I need to watch what I wear, as the size difference is noticeable and I’m self-conscious of it. I suffered bad depression for a few months. I also lost my left eye, 3 months after, due to a problem I had had in it since I was a child. I still have no plans on what I will be doing regarding getting the other implant removed or getting them fixed, as I’m still paying off the loan I took out for the original surgery. Being a stay-at-home mum of four, coming up with the money is virtually impossible now. All I can say is, I wish I did my research prior to going under the knife, and that there was more awareness for people between the difference of a Cosmetic and Plastic surgeon.
Sam has continued to live unhappy, worse off than where she started. Sam has been patient and optimistic but far from confident. Sam has shared her story nationally on Sunrise, Take that magazine and within our group, amongst other forums. I have felt sincere empathy and wanted desperately to help Sam. Sadly, I am not a plastic surgeon. I also have encountered many patients with unrealistic expectations, patients wanting free revisions and patients who refuse to acknowledge implant limitations. Sam is not a person with body dysmorphia or unrealistic expectations. Despite the empathy many surgeons would feel for Sam, with the history, she is far from a simple case.
When we attended the Plastic Surgery Congress, we had the opportunity to meet many of Australia and New Zealand’s most qualified surgeons. It’s not easy to put people on the spot and I didn’t feel enough confidence myself, to spread Sam’s story. But I did meet a few surgeons in Sam’s location (Gold Coast) who were so genuine, sincere, and approachable. As a result, Dr Craig Layt has agreed to review Sam. All we hope is for some direction and honesty. Dr Layt is an experienced, qualified, and talented surgeon. Having meet Dr Layt, I feel even more excited. Dr Layt is not out to charge four times the price and sell Sam the world, he is humble and kind. Sam and I are absolutely thrilled to have even a small amount of time with such a generous man. We will possibly be very nervous school girls ????. Our fingers and toes will be crossed that Sam will see another surgeon, get two opinions, not rush into anything, and go back on sunrise with a successful conclusion to this horrendous story. Watch this space!!!
*Implant manufacturer not made aware of removal until early March (4 months after explant) all the surgeon supplied was a photo.
To watch Sam on Sunrise on the 5/04/2017;