A sugar addict warned she may go blind because of her weight lost 11 stone when she spent more than £15,000 on transformation surgery.
Michelle Parsons, 34, tipped the scales at 19st after struggling with her weight since childhood and regularly gorged on chocolate bars and a daily tiramisu or cheesecake.
She decided to change her ways when a doctor warned if she did not slim down she could lose her eyesight permanently when she started suffering pressure headaches in 2019 and was diagnosed with intracranial hypertension.
The condition is a build-up of pressure around the brain which can result in vision loss.
Too terrified to wait for an NHS appointment, the mum of four decided to splash out £4,000 on a gastric bypass in Egypt in March 2020.
After shedding 11st Michelle was left with rolls of excess skin so spent £5,000 on a tummy tuck in Lithuania in June 2021 and in 2022 paid £3,300 to have her breasts reduced from a 44E to a 34D in Prague.
Finally, 8st Michelle underwent £3,200 surgery to remove skin from her arms in Lithuania.
Michelle said: “They said if I didn’t lose the weight that I’d risk losing my eyesight.
“I felt frightened that if I waited I’d lose my eyesight. I was absolutely terrified. I was against the clock, I had to do something. I found an amazing surgeon in Egypt, he’s registered to work in the UK and he worked in America.
“I checked his credentials, looked at independent reviews and everyone praised this man. Everything went brilliantly, they were so good. I was really sore for the first few days but it was spot on.
“The weight started dropping off [but] I did have to make changes to my diet as well.
“Before, I was eating a 200g bar of chocolate and a dessert every single night, it’s so embarrassing. I was more comfort eating than anything.
“Some people think surgery is a quick fix but you still choose what you put in your mouth and you’ve got to make healthier choices.
“Some people spend thousands on the surgery or get it on the NHS and it doesn’t work for them. You’ve got to have self-control.
“When I was bigger, I had to be admitted into hospital to have lumbar punctures to drain the fluid around my brain and I haven’t needed that since the surgery.
“The risk of going blind is gone now.”
Michelle, mum to Thomas, nine, Amber, eight, and Andrew, four, said her weight increased during her parents’ divorce when she was four and she started using food as a comfort.
She says she would skip breakfast and eat takeaways, crisps, chocolate and cake when she and student mental health nurse husband Carl, 48, put their children to bed.
Michelle added: “I started getting chunky because I was comfort eating and trying to make myself feel better with food.
“I didn’t eat set meals, I grazed a lot. I didn’t eat breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day, so my metabolism wasn’t kicking in. We ate loads of takeaways.
“In the evening when the kids were in bed, I was eating crisps, chocolates, cakes and dessert. I had a mega sweet tooth.
“Now I eat high protein and low carb, like chicken and fish, my portions are so small now.
“I’ve made small changes like swapping white pasta with wholewheat pasta and white rice with basmati rice.
“Making those small changes have really helped – cutting down on sugar and using a sweetener [instead].
The upside is enjoying shopping, because when you’re bigger the clothes are limited.
“I’ve enjoyed getting a whole new wardrobe but it’s cost a fortune.
“People say I’m a completely different person. There was one friend I hadn’t seen for months and we went to a motorbike rally.
“I was standing next to my husband and he came over and shook my husband’s hand but ignored me.
“I wondered what I’d said to upset him then an hour later he approached me and said he was so sorry but he didn’t recognise me.
“He ignored me because he thought my husband was chatting up another woman.
“I’m full of energy now, it’s lovely to be able to run and play with my kids and not be out of breath.
“My confidence has improved a lot. Life is very different, I feel a lot better physically.
“Running up the stairs is amazing. Before I’d be out of puff at the top, now I can skip up here and I’m perfect when I get to the top.”