A woman who wanted to ‘look good at 40’ has revealed how her dreams of having a better body have left her permanently scarred – after she contracted a flesh-eating infection.
Lyndsay Colosimo, 38, from Florida, decided to travel to Colombia for cut-price surgery, having a tummy tuck, breast reduction and bum lift at a cost of $10,000 (£7,700).
However, going under the surgeon’s knife for five-and-a-half hours left her with necrosis, which causes skin tissue to die – often turning black – as a result of an injury or lack of blood supply.
She’s since been forced to have multiple operations to correct the surgery – including removing her nipples – leaving her $40,000 (£31,000) in debt.
Lyndsay Colosimo, 38, from Florida, decided to have cosmetic surgery in Colombia after hearing her friends’ positive experiences
However, after under going five-and-a-half hours on the operating table, Lyndsay woke up in pain and vomiting and says there wasn’t a ‘doctor to be seen’
The damage: Necrosis – which causes skin tissue or cells to die after an injury or lack of blood supply – set in and Lyndsay’s breasts began to turn red and then black
As Lindsay looks now – after paying around $40,000 (£31,000) to have more operations to correct the damage. She currently doesn’t have nipples on either of her breasts
Lyndsay, an insurance underwriter, says she decided to choose Colombia because she’d had friends who’d had similar surgery done and had had a positive experience.
She explains: ‘I had a tummy tuck in the US in 2012 and I wasn’t happy with it and wanted it revised with a bum lift.
‘When I got to the clinic, I was advised on a breast reduction and lift too – something I have always wanted but it wasn’t my priority.
‘I decided to have both but I did worry as I felt as though it was too much surgery at once, but you trust the professionals.’
When she finally came around from the surgery she says she ‘didn’t feel right and a doctor was nowhere to be seen.
‘My legs felt numb and I began vomiting uncontrollably – it was the worst pain of my life.
‘It continued for a few days and I could see a black spot under my bandage, but I was told it was dried blood and not to worry by medics.
The insurance underwriter says she planned on staying just 20 days in Colombia for the surgery but was forced to stay another two weeks – and still needed care when arriving back in the US
‘I want my old body back’ She says she’s now sharing her experience on social media to help persuade other women that travelling abroad for cheaper treatments isn’t a good idea
Medics in Colombia told her that the black she could see was dried skin. However, the red and black marks were signs of necrosis setting in
Pictured in the days following her tummy tuck, bum lift and breast reduction; she says she couldn’t feel her legs and was violently sick after coming around from surgery
‘I knew in my heart it wasn’t as I was getting worse by the day – eventually I seen what was under the bandage and 30 per cent of my nipple was black.’
Lyndsay claims she was diagnosed with necrosis – dead cells in an organ or tissue due to disease, injury, or failure of the blood supply – and that her nipple and milk duct was surgically removed three weeks after the initial surgery.
She was scheduled to stay in Columbia for 20 days but went on to stay for a further 12 as she claims there were further complications.
She said: ‘I had open wounds on my breasts as the implant pocket wasn’t big enough – it is like the incision was made for a C-cup and DD was shoved in.
‘My skin started breaking open, it was terrifying to see.
‘I had a fever and continued to show signs of infections and encouraged to walk around whereas usually people are told to rest after surgery.
I was getting worse by the day and eventually I saw what was under the bandage – 30 per cent of my nipple was black…
‘My stomach began to fill with fluid and puss would seep out of my belly button and massage therapists were sent to my hotel room with razor blades to cut open the incisions and massage the fluids out.
‘This is unsanitary and hotel rooms are not sterile environments.
‘Massage oil is not good near open wounds – I ignored all the red flags as I was desperate for it to make me feel better.
‘Unfortunately, I am more educated after the events rather than before. I researched the clinic and seen amazing results with my own eyes, but I didn’t see any of the bad.’
On her return to the US, she says she went straight to the hospital and claims an E. coli infection was found in her breast and revision surgery was needed on her stomach.
Lyndsey says that she required a wound vaccination weekly and a doctor to change her bandages daily – she was eventually discharged from their care November 20th.
Lyndsay as she looks now; she was discharged from her doctor on November 20th
Constant pain: She says the point of incision is still tender after she also developed cellulitis
‘I was good enough’ The cosmetic surgery tourist says she now deeply regrets trying to enhance her body
Lyndsay now claims she has a $40,000 (£39,900) medical bill – the initial surgery would have cost $35,000 (£47,000) at a US plastic surgery.
She adds: ‘I went straight to the emergency department and had two more surgeries to install three drains to flush out the infections in my stomach.
NECROTIZING FASCIITIS: THE VICIOUS FLESH-EATING BACTERIA
The above stock photo shows a leg infected with necrotizing fasciitis
Necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as ‘flesh-eating disease’, is a rare but extremely vicious bacterial infection. ‘Necrotizing’ refers to something that causes body tissue to die, and the infection can destroy skin, muscles and fat.
The disease develops when the bacteria enters the body, often through a minor cut or scrape. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cut off blood flow to the area.
Because it is so virulent, the bacteria spreads rapidly throughout the body.
Symptoms include small, red lumps or bumps on the skin, rapidly-spreading bruising, sweating, chills, fever and nausea. Organ failure and shock are also common complications.
Sufferers must be treated immediately to prevent death, and are usually given powerful antibiotics and surgery to remove dead tissue. Amputation can become necessary if the disease spreads through an arm or leg.
Patients may undergo skin grafts after the infection has cleared up, to help the healing process or for aesthetic reasons.
There are 500 to 1,500 cases reported a year, but 20 to 25 percent of victims die.
Necrosis is the irreversible process by which body tissue dies as a result of too little blood flow
‘This infection almost cost me my life – I developed cellulitis and I am still in constant pain at the incision point.
‘I regret it so much – I went there to feel confident and now I feel embarrassed. I was seeking perfection but now I look back and realise I was good enough.
‘Before surgery, I wouldn’t wear a bikini and now I won’t even wear a dress or leave my house. I thought I would feel liberated after, but I feel ashamed.
Lyndsay says she’s now determined to share her story on social media ‘to prevent other women going through the torture I have been through.’