Danniella Westbrook’s surgery hell: ‘It’s been a living nightmare – I regret going abroad’
Danniella Westbrook has revealed she regrets undergoing her fifth facial reconstruction surgery in Turkey, telling us it has been a “living nightmare”.
Former EastEnders star Danniella, 49, went under the knife last month for a surgical thread lift (a procedure where temporary stitches are used to produce a “lift” in the skin) and fat transfer in a bid to fix a past botched surgery.
But as she recovers, as seen in our exclusive pictures, she reveals she’s been left feeling devastated by the results – and is now planning more surgery in the UK.
“I had a surgical thread lift where they put over 1,200 threads into my face,” Danniella explains.
“They were also supposed to reconstruct my nose, which is what I went there for, but they haven’t done that. They put 200 threads in my nose to straighten it, but it hasn’t worked. So I feel like I’ve wasted my time. The main thing I wanted doing was for my nose to be reconstructed.
"I’ve been waiting for nearly four years. So I’m going back to my surgeon in Liverpool to get my nose fixed. They’re going to rebuild all the bridge in my mouth and build up the front of my nose. I need to wait to heal first, but I’ll be getting it done when I can.”
She continues, “I also had fat harvesting [a fat transfer]. They’ve taken the fat out of my back, my sides and my stomach, and put it into my face to make it more symmetrical. But I feel like they’ve taken too much fat from my stomach. I’ve always had a six-pack, and I’ve woken up, and I’ve lost it.
"Now, all of my stomach is saggy. It looks like I’ve lost about 15st and have excess skin.
“I also have big lumps of fluid all over my belly. They’re like big tennis balls. It’s ruined my body. It’s going to take a lot of work to get it back to how I was. I’m 50 this year, and I wanted to be in the best shape ever.”
Following the two-hour procedure, Danniella reveals she woke up in “immense” pain. “The whole thing has been awful, if I’m being honest,” she says.
“I’ve had a lot of surgery in my life, but I’ve never experienced anything like this. The pain was off the scale.
“My face was three times its size. I had fluid under my eyes, they were so swollen.
I could barely open them. I have never been in pain like it. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was hysterically crying every single day. It was terrifying because I don’t speak Turkish, so nobody could understand me. I was trying to tell them how much pain I was in and they just couldn’t understand, so I was freaking out.”
“A week after the surgery, my face was still so swollen,” she adds. “I looked like a Shar Pei because I was so wrinkly and swollen.” To add to her misery, Danniella also explains that, due to her past cocaine addiction, she hasn’t been able to take any painkillers because they contain codeine. The actress also admits she was so scared that she would die on the operating table, she even wrote a will.
Danniella says, “I thought I was going to die during the surgery, I really did. On the way there, I was told horror stories about people dying on the table. Not at the clinic I was at, but at others in Turkey. So that really frightened me.
“I wrote a will before the surgery, not that I’ve got much to leave, but I was petrified. My dad has got dementia, and I was thinking, ‘What am I doing out here?’ If anything happened to me, he wouldn’t understand.
"All sorts of things were going through my head, it was awful. Luckily I’m here and alive, but I really have been so ill.”
The actress spent five days in Turkey following the surgery, before getting the all-clear and flying back to Portugal – where she moved last year – to recover.
“I was desperate to get the hell out of Turkey, but I felt so ill I couldn’t move out of bed,” she says. “On my way back on the flight, I could feel my stitches almost bursting on my head. They felt really tight. I also kept losing sight in my left eye. I stepped off the plane and I couldn’t see anything, it was pitch black. I think it was the air pressure affecting my wounds.”
Two days after Danniella arrived in Portugal, she was rushed to hospital after her stitches popped open. “It wasn’t until I was washing my hair that I realised the stitches had come undone and I had an open wound,” she explains.
“I literally have a hole on the side of my head. It’s about an inch long. I could actually put my finger in the hole, which was awful. I’ve had sepsis twice in the past and I was worried I was going to get it again. I’ve also had friends die of sepsis, so I know how bad it is. I really was terrified.
“I went to a private hospital in Portugal to get it checked. They were shocked at the state I was in. But they’ve given me some antibiotics and have advised me to let it heal. It has been a living nightmare. I regret it so much. I just want to go back to England and see my family.”
Four weeks on from the operation, Danniella’s bandages are off and the swelling has gone down. But she says, “When I wake up in the morning, my eyes are still swollen. I also have eczema under my eyes, which I’ve never had before and it’s making me look wrinkly.”
Danniella reveals that the “traumatic” experience has also knocked her confidence. “I’ve had bits of thread sticking out of the top of my head, which I’ve had to cut off. They also shaved my hair during surgery and I have a bald patch right at the front,” she says. “I feel awful. I don’t even want to go out and leave the house. I just feel like curling up and dying. I feel so down.
“When I look in the mirror, I hate what I see. I prefer the way I looked before, and I wasn’t happy with that either. But it was better than this.”
Danniella says she’s been put off having any future procedures, and she hopes her upcoming surgery in the UK to fix her nose will be her last.
“I don’t know how it’s gone so wrong. I think it was a bit of miscommunication. I just wish I had never gone to Turkey to have it done,” she says. “I will never have surgery abroad ever again.”
However, despite a terrifying month, Danniella, who got engaged to her jailbird beau David, 29, last year, is determined to move past it. “This year has been so positive for me so far, so it’s a shame I’ve had this blip. But I will continue to be positive,” she insists.
“My fella David is back from jail soon, so I can’t wait to see him and I can’t wait to finally get married this year. I have lots of work coming up, so everything is on the up. I just want to get my face sorted, which I will.”
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