For as long as I can remember, I’ve always hated my body. I’m naturally a skinny girl and having small breasts has made my life very hard. While my friends all have very curvy womanly figures, I have always had a very boyish shape and it’s constantly gnawed at my confidence.
Having breast surgery was something I’d thought about many times before, but I’d never actually considered it a possibility. But after seeing a psychic who told me I wanted implants, it suddenly became a very real option. That night I spoke about it with my sister Natalie. “I think I’m going to do it, Nat,” I said, and she answered: “I think you should. And what’s more, I think I’m going to get mine done too!”
Under the Knife
A couple of months on, we’d both booked ourselves in for surgery. During the consultation process they’d told me there was a risk of complications but said there was nothing really to worry about. A few hours later, I woke up in tears. I don’t remember the details because I was still drugged up, but the nurse told me the first thing I’d done was cry for my sister. Over tea and toast, we sat in Nat’s bed, chatting about the op and the clothes we were going to buy. “The first thing I’m going to get is a new bikini,” I said. “Me too,” she replied. We’d booked a beach holiday to the Canary Islands and we were dying to get some new clothes. I finally felt like a woman. But to my horror, after only a few months my right breast started to go hard and lumpy.
I was at work when I noticed it had become really uncomfortable. The surgeon had told me to get in touch if I started to feel odd or worried that something didn’t feel right, so after telling my dad he rushed me straight there. “It’s probably a capsular contracture,” I was told.
“It’s where your tissue tightens around the implants and your body rejects anything that’s put into it. We’ll have to take it out and clean it, and then we’ll put it back in.”
The surgery went well and I was sent home with some painkillers. But a couple of weeks later I noticed a small blister on the underside of my breast. I went back to the clinic and was told to keep the sore covered and was given antibiotics to stop it getting infected. I went back to work as normal, and for the rest of the week Nat helped me keep the blister bandaged. Then, one day, she froze. “Oh, no, Lauren! Something’s not right. It’s coming out!” But because I couldn’t see it I didn’t realise how serious it was. I carried on at work, and because I couldn’t feel it, because there was no pain, I had no idea how bad it was getting. Then, when my auntie saw it, she demanded I go to A&E. “Lauren!” she said, going white. “It’s hanging all the way out of you! You’ve got to go to A&E. And I’m coming with you!”
On the way to hospital I sent a picture of the implant coming out to my surgeon, and by the time we’d arrived he’d replied. “Don’t let them take it out,” he said. “You have to come to the clinic and we’ll remove it properly for you. There’s a risk of septicaemia if it’s not done properly.” When I arrived at the surgery, it was literally hanging all the way out. There was little more than a half-centimetre flap of skin keeping it in my body. “It’s got to come out,” said the surgeon right after seeing me. “It’s got to come out – and it’s got to stay out for at least a couple of months.” My heart sank. A couple of months? I was going on holiday in a few weeks. I couldn’t go with a lopsided chest. Breaking down in tears, I begged him to leave it in. The surgeon reassured me it was in my best interests and that it would only be for a short time. But for seven awful months I was left completely flat-chested on one side.
The worst part was going on holiday. I had to wear horrible ‘chicken fillets’ to make my chest look even. The one time I went in the sea, a huge wave washed over my head and dragged me underwater. When I came up for air, the fillet had come loose.
Eventually, after what seemed like the longest seven months of my life, surgeons put the implant back in and now I feel alright again. I wouldn’t advise anyone to get implants now. But if you do, ask about the risks involved and research them properly. It’s the only thing I wish I’d done.