In her younger years Susan Potter was a fit athlete, swimming over 12,000 metres a day and competing at national level. A bad injury and starting a family meant she was unable to train and subsequently gained a significant amount of weight. Susan was no longer the fit, healthy and confident person she once was. Here, she shares her story:
“I used to be really fit. I loved swimming and was a keen gym-goer, but an injury meant I had to pull out of swimming for a long period of time and I didn’t return. I ate healthily and worked out occasionally but nowhere near as much as when I was swimming.
“As I got older I started a family and went on to have four beautiful children, but when I was pregnant I ate food like it was going out of fashion. Throughout my pregnancies I gained nearly five stone and my breasts went up to an H cup. After having my youngest child, I rarely exercised and continued to eat a lot. I was getting bigger and didn’t feel like myself at all.
“We were on a family holiday a couple of years ago and I felt so down about how I looked in a swimsuit I decided enough was enough – I needed to do something about it. We often go on holiday and I never ever let anyone near me with a camera.
“When we got home, I began eating healthily and exercising again. Gradually, I began to lose weight as well as inches from my body. I was thrilled with my progress, although my breasts remained the same size. This got me down as I still had to wear bigger sized clothes and the more weight I was losing, the more my skin around my stomach became saggy.
“A friend recommended I get in touch with Spire Washington Hospital. I gave them a call and spoke to a very friendly adviser – my appointment was booked and I can honestly say I haven’t looked back since.
“My consultant Mr Ali-Khan was lovely – he put me at ease, explained everything and kept stopping to make sure I understood. I went onto have another two appointments with him for further discussions and after that I decided surgery was one hundred per cent what I wanted.
“Just a month later I underwent a tummy tuck with liposuction and a breast reduction and uplift. On the morning of surgery I arrived at the hospital and was shown to my room which was newly refurbished with its own private bathroom. Mr Ali-Khan, the anaesthetist and a nurse all came to see me before I bounced down to theatre with excitement.
“When I woke up, I looked down and my eyes filled up with tears - I could not believe what a fantastic job he had done. I had my stomach and waist back - I was so happy.
“I cannot fault Mr Ali-Khan or the staff at Spire Washington Hospital. He even came in at six o’clock the next morning to see how I was as he was en-route to another hospital. To me, that is excellent patient care - I don't think many consultants would do that.
“I’m now recovering well and have begun gentle exercise again. I’m enjoying spending time with my children and am able to play with them and do things I felt I couldn’t before. I feel healthier and happier and I’m counting down to our next family holiday – I won’t be shying away from the camera this time!”
Mr Ali-Khan said: “Susan’s story is very common amongst the patients I see. The changes that occur after pregnancies and motherhood are not always easy or possible to undo. Susan had worked hard to regain her shape and only came to see me after she realised and accepted there were areas of her body that were not going to improve with exercise or diet.
“From a surgeon’s perspective she was an ideal patient as she had realistic expectations of what surgery could achieve. I always offer further consultations, at no extra cost, to allow patients time to think about the information I have provided. We met again and Susan had questions, which reassured me she had absorbed and considered the information I had given her. It’s important never to rush into surgery and often I advise patients to attend consultations with a family member, or friend, so they have an independent and trusted person to offer opinion before making a final decision.”