Mum's heartache after botched bum operation left her looking like she been bitten by a shark 22:00, 19 July 2015 By Rachael Bletchly After losing half her body weight, young mum Heidi Faulkner was desperate to be rid of her "saggy skin" but it had horrific consequences TIM ANDERSON Heartbreak: Heidi Faulkner has been left with horrific scars After years of battling with obesity, Heidi Faulkner got a gastric band, lost half her body weight and finally found her self-esteem. The only thing that could make the petite young mum even happier was getting rid of the saggy skin on her “wrinkly, old lady’s bum”. So Heidi cleared out her savings, jetted off to Prague and underwent a cut-price £2,000 “booty job” to lift, tighten and plump her baggy backside. But when she removed the bandages to see the results, the bottom fell out of her world. Heidi, 36, says: “There were two enormous scars right across my buttocks – as if a shark had come and taken a massive bite. “I was screaming and the surgeon was called. He had a look and assured me it would be all right when the swelling went down. But it wasn’t. I had been butchered.” Property manager Heidi, from Enfield, Herts, is one of the many women – and men – turning to bottom enhancement surgery. Cosmetic surgery is a £1billion industry in the UK with 50,000 nips and tucks carried out last year. And bum jobs are soaring. Butchered: Heidi Faulkner immediately after botched bum job in Prague in December 2013 In the past two years, surgeons have seen a 484% rise in inquires about bottom lifts and implants. With the average operation costing £4,300, many people travel abroad for cheaper surgery. But, as Heidi discovered, they could be dicing with disaster. She features in the new Channel 5 series Botched Up Bodies, which catalogues the most shocking and gruesome nip-tuck disasters. Heidi had a troubled childhood, growing up in a succession of foster homes, and says her insecurities lead to weight problems. She explains: “I over-ate, I didn’t exercise and I was never taught to look after myself. By my mid-20s, I was just getting bigger and bigger. “A night out was a real ordeal. It would take ages to find an outfit to fit, then I’d spend the evening being ‘the fat girl’ out with her mates. “It was embarrassing. I had no self-confidence. I went on every diet possible, tried hypnotherapy, but nothing worked. “I had no willpower. Ironically, the only time my weight stabilised was when I was pregnant with my son, because I started eating more healthily.” But after Albie was born nine years ago, 5ft 6in Heidi ballooned to 16st. She said: “I read about gastric bands in a magazine and I realised I had to do something. I’d split up with my partner and we’d sold our house, so I had a bit of money. Before: Heidi Faulkner nine years ago before losing half her body weight and having botched bum op “I spent £8,500 on gastric band surgery in 2007 and it changed my life. I went from 16st to 8st in three years. I was overjoyed to be this petite size six and I finally felt I’d become the woman I was supposed to be. “I’d missed out on a lot of life, hiding myself away.” But complications with the band meant Heidi needed two repair ops, which cost another £8,500. She says: “I lost so much weight I looked ill and had to have a break from the band. But I went from a size six to a 14 in weeks before having the band fixed and losing weight again. "The fluctuation in my weight left me with loose skin on my stomach and legs and wrinkly folds and sagging skin around my hips and bum. I was a 30-something with the body of an 80-something old woman. “My son used to say, ‘Mum, it looks like your bum has melted’. My skin looked like candle wax dripping down the back of my legs. “It had no shape, my buttocks were flat and exercise wasn’t making any difference. “I was beginning to think I’d never be able to go on holiday and wear a bikini, as I had dreamed. So I started researching cosmetic surgery and found it was much cheaper abroad. “I couldn’t have everything done at once but I found a clinic in Prague that looked reputable so decided to go for it.” Three years ago, Heidi flew to the Czech Republic for a tummy tuck and thigh lift that cost £4,100. “I was delighted with the results,” she says. “The surgeon was wonderful and the aftercare was great. So I had no qualms about going back the following year to have a bum lift, which cost me £2,100. Heidi Faulkner having surgery to repair botched bum job in April 2014, surgeon Patrick Mallucci, right “I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford another procedure so this was my last chance to get the body I dreamed of. “After the operation I was excited to see the results. I was still a bit groggy but went into the shower room and the nurses helped me take off the bandages. “When I looked in the mirror I could see these two enormous diagonal scars right across my misshapen buttocks. “I thought I must be having a nightmare or the drugs were affecting me. Then, I heard someone screaming, and realised it was me. “It looked just like a shark had come and taken a massive bite out of my bum. It was horrific. They called the surgeon who said it would be fine when the swelling went down. "But swelling should have plumped my bum up – and this looked like a chunk had been taken out.” Heidi, fighting back tears at the memory, adds: “I was on my own in Prague and didn’t know what to do, who to talk to. All I’d wanted was to stop feeling embarrassed about my body – now I’d made things worse.” Heidi spent three nights in hospital and another four recovering before flying home. Friends and family were understandably horrified. And her problems were far from over. She says: “I was in constant pain. The surgeon had taken out so much fat that my coccyx [the “tailbone” at the bottom of the spine] was exposed and rubbing against the skin. It was always blistering. Before the op: Heidi Faulkner with UK surgeon Patrick Mallucci “I couldn’t sit properly. I’d have to perch on one buttock cheek at a time with my leg underneath me and sitting at my desk like that was hurting my back. Even sitting in the bath was painful.” Heidi contacted Channel 5 about taking part in the new series of Botched Up Bodies. They put her in touch with top cosmetic surgeon Patrick Mallucci, who agreed to try to rectify the surgery. He warned her it was “a tricky situation with no easy solution”. Patrick says: “I’ve never seen anything like this. She has very unusual scars right in the middle of her buttocks rather than below them, or following the natural curve.” But in a two-hour operation last year, he used equipment to suck fat from her knees, thighs and hips, injected it back into her buttocks then lifted them and eased her old scars. It gave Heidi’s bottom a fuller shape with more buttock definition. She says: “It has changed my life for the better because the pain has gone and I can sit again. I’m doing lots of squats to build up the muscles and improve the shape. TIM ANDERSON Perfect bun: Heidi Faulkner is now on the road to recovery after her botched surgery “Aesthetically, I still wish my bum looked better – but the damage done in Prague was pretty hard to fix. “I’m still not confident and try to keep my bottom hidden. I’m not in a relationship and think I’m going to find that difficult. “I’d be very nervous about getting intimate with someone new. It would take me at least six months before I could show them my bum, so I think, ‘What’s the point?’ “I don’t regret the gastric band surgery or my other op in Prague – I just wish I’d had the same surgeon the second time. “I thought about taking legal action but that would have cost me up to £45,000 that I haven’t got, with no guarantee I’d win. If I had the money, I’d rather have spent it on correcting the botched surgery. “I want to warn people to think very carefully about having surgery abroad. “Investigate the clinic, the surgeon and the legal system in that country to find out what courses of action are open to you if something goes wrong.” Botched Up Bodies, Channel 5, 10pm on Tuesday.