By Emma Pearson @JournoEmma1
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Tracey Gibson, 45, and her daughter Zara Hartshorn, 18, both suffer from Cutis Laxa, a rare condition that leaves their skin wrinkled and twisted.
Zara underwent a facelift at just 16 years old, and now after a facelift, neck lift and fillers, Tracey’s youthful radiance has also been restored.
Tracey, from Rotherham, said: “My face is worth £50,000 and it feels absolutely amazing when I get up in the morning.
“I’ve been called a ‘granny’ and a ‘monkey’ all my life and when I look at old pictures now I think I looked like the dragon off Shrek.
“But now I’ve got a new lease of life and I can hold my head high when I walk down the street. I think I look pretty good now and totally different.”
Thrice-married Tracey, who lives off disability allowance, was overjoyed to be contacted by surgeons abroad after being rejected for cosmetic surgery on the NHS.
Ever since childhood she suffered with crippling low self-esteem because of her ravaged appearance.
Tracey said: “I’ve been ridiculed my entire life and endured all sorts of cruel names since school.
“I’ve had to put up with so much crap. I was never able to get a job and it does make you resentful sometimes.”
Of Tracey’s seven children, three have inherited the condition.
As well as Zara, Tracey’s daughter Jolene, 25, and son Tommy, 26, also suffer from lipodystrophy, but Zara’s was by far the most extreme case.
Just like Tracey, Zara endured years of teasing and cruel taunts.
But after hearing of her condition, a top surgeon in the US offered Zara free cosmetic surgery and in 2012 she was flown out for a facelift, which was a huge success.
Tracey stayed in touch with the surgeons and was delighted to accept the free treatment when it was offered last year.
She said: “I got turned down in this country because they said it was just cosmetic and as you can imagine I was absolutely fuming.
“I think it’s disgusting that I was born with this condition and the NHS won’t do anything about it.
“I don’t know how they could refuse me – my face looked terrible.”
Tracey underwent the neck lift in August and the facelift and botox in November.
In total her new face is worth £50,000 - and Tracey couldn’t be happier.
Zara accompanied her mum during surgeries and helped nurse her back to health.
Tracey said: “I was nervous but I saw how well Zara was cared for during her treatments and I knew I was in safe hands.
“They asked me if I wanted Angelina Jolie lips but I think that would be taking it a bit too far.”
Since the surgery, Tracey’s life has changed completely.
She said: “They handed me a mirror and I couldn’t accept that the person looking back at me was me - I just couldn’t stop smiling.
“It was never about looking younger, it was just about having a normal face that I could be happy with and stand to look at in the mirror.
“Zara loves my new face - we all do. All the kids have said I’ve got vain but I didn’t go through all of that not to come back and do something with it.
“I love putting my make-up on now and making the most of my new face. I never bothered with anything like that before but now I have a bag full of cosmetics.”
But while Tracey is overjoyed with her new look, she lives in fear of the effects reversing.
She said: “My biggest fear is that the fillers won’t last and I’ll go back to being wrinkled. I live with that fear every day.
“My body is weak and the fillers wear off a lot quicker than it should.
“In a few years I’m going back out to have it all over again but really I should be able to have it done here on the NHS.”
Two years on from her facelift, Zara is still happy with her own appearance.
And for Tracey, the surgery marks the start of a new chapter in her life.
She said: “I feel like I’m having the last laugh now at everyone who called me names and it’s a massive boost.
“I’ve always had my head down trying to blend into the background, but that part of my life is done with now and I can finally be the person I’ve always wanted to be.”