A mum-of-three spent £16,000 on a full ‘mummy makeover’ to give her back her pre-pregnancy body – but ended up with a horror infection that left her with a huge hole in her stomach. Melanie Sandberg, 35, saved up for surgeries to give her back her pre-pregnancy body after having two babies in two years.
Just seven months after giving birth to her youngest child, the mum-of-three, from Long Island, New York, had the $20,000 procedure on February 17 and was excited to see results. The ‘mommy makeover’ consisted of a breast augmentation and tummy tuck all in one – but three weeks after her surgery, she grew concerned.
The stay-at-home mum noticed a hole in her stomach where a drain had sat during the surgery had re-opened and started to grow larger and more painful over time. She said it took weeks for her surgeon to even take her seriously and claims she was told ‘it’s not infected’ many times as the gruesome hole grew to the size of a coin.
When she went to the hospital, they revealed it was indeed infected with MRSA – a superbug which is notoriously resistant to most antibiotics. Luckily, after suitable treatment, Melanie is now on the road to recovery, but wants to warn others to watch out for the symptoms.
She said: “My last two pregnancies were back-to-back – I had gained 100lbs over those two years. I wanted my body back! The day after the surgery, I didn’t feel well at all, but I thought I’d be back to myself in a few weeks time.
“But three weeks after my surgery, there was a deep hole at the bottom of my tummy. It got bigger and bigger and my abdomen became extremely swollen. Doctors thought it wasn’t infected but I could see that it was – it was an open wound the size of a silver coin with PUS coming out.
“Eventually I went to hospital and was told I had MRSA – I was very concerned and scared. Now I’m finally healing, I’m actually really happy with the results, but I had no idea how serious it was and how dangerous MRSA can be.”
Mum-of-three Melanie said her body ‘bounced back’ after having her daughter, Ava Galante, 14 years ago – but after two recent back-to-back pregnancies, she had gained 100lbs. Pregnancy had also caused her abdominal muscles to separate, meaning she would never be able to get back the flat stomach she once had.
So Melanie, a former primary school teacher, saved up $20,000 to get a ‘mommy makeover’ – a breast augmentation and partial tummy tuck. On February 17, just seven months after giving birth to baby Gibson Paciullo, now ten months, she headed to her cosmetic surgeon and went under the knife in a two-hour procedure.
She said: “When I woke up from surgery, I was feeling awful, I was in a lot of pain. But I remember thinking how in a few weeks time I’ll be back to myself, I’ll have my body back, and I could get back to life, feeling better than ever.”
But that wasn’t to be, as three weeks after the surgery, just as Melanie was starting to heal, she noticed a hole in the stitching from the tummy tuck. Once closed, it had re-opened, and over the coming days, it grew larger and had pus coming out, as well as her stomach becoming swollen.
She recalled calling her surgeon multiple times and ended up returning to have fluid drained from her stomach and getting an antibiotic prescription. She said she was told this was what was causing the issues and it would go away by itself – but it didn’t.
Melanie, also mum to Jackson Paciullo, 21 months, said: “I came home and it was getting larger and deeper – it was an open wound. I literally had a hole in my stomach the size of a silver dollar coin.”
Over the weeks, she faced several more unsuccessful conversations and appointments with her surgeon and was prescribed different antibiotics. But nothing seemed to help Melanie as the gory hole grew deeper and deeper with no antibiotics appearing to be working, leaving her in constant pain.
It wasn’t until a conversation with a family friend alerted her to act – when the friend revealed a time a similar thing had happened with her own cosmetic surgery.
Melanie said: “She told me she had ended up with a hole in her breast for 40 days. Then she revealed she ended up hospitalised because she had developed sepsis. That was when I really started freaking out.”
At the hospital, Melanie was finally given some answers when they revealed she had MRSA – a serious antibiotic-resistant ‘superbug’ infection. She was given a new type of drug which MRSA is not resistant to and was taught how to care for the wounds so they heal properly.
This included stuffing gauze soaked in saline inside the hole to kill the infection. She said: “When I got there and I was diagnosed with MRSA, I remember realising how bad things were. I knew it was bad before but I had no idea exactly how serious it was.”
She has since been following the aftercare procedures given by the hospital, as well as continuing to take her medication, and is now finally on the mend. Over two months on from the original surgery, she says the wounds are now “healing remarkably” and she is “feeling good about the results.”
But she encouraged people to be more aware of the risks they are taking before having a major procedure. She said: “I had no idea of the complications and I took it very lightly.
“Looking back, MRSA is highly contagious and I was home with my three kids, two of them very young still – we are lucky it didn’t spread to them. Since I started sharing my story, so many other women have told me their stories and it turns out so many have gone through the same thing.
“Now I’m finally healing, I’m actually really happy with the results. But I had no idea how serious it was and how dangerous MRSA can be.”