Ajokey tease from a member of her family sparked years of worry for Yasmin Smedley.
The 24-year-old legal advisor’s thoughts were dominated by the fact that her ears stuck out.
It affected her so badly that it stopped her applying for certain jobs.
But all that changed when she had an operation to pin back her ears and transform her appearance.
Yasmin, of Kensington Road, Copnor, says: ‘It seems like I’ve spent my life worrying about my ears.
‘But it began just before secondary school – and I remember it as clear as day.
This is going to sound dramatic, but I feel like a different person completelyYasmin Smedley
‘I was messing about with my uncle, taking the mickey out of him, and he called me “big ears” back.
‘I remember thinking, “I haven’t got big ears”.
‘I walked over to the mirror and realised it was true.
‘They stuck out so much, but I had never noticed it before.’
She adds: ‘From that moment on I was paranoid and it really affected me.
‘I would not wear my hair up again.
‘My boyfriend and family would tell me not to be silly, that my ears were part of my character, what made me special but it didn’t make any difference to me.’
Yasmin, a legal advisor, could not relax. She thought about her ears constantly.
‘I know this sounds ridiculous but it restricted me so much.
‘On windy days I was on edge that my hair would blow out and people would see my big ears.
‘If I was out running I wouldn’t put my hair up as I thought people would look at my ears.
‘It affected what jobs I went for. For example, I didn’t want to be a waitress as I thought I’d have to wear my hair up.
‘And at one stage I thought about being an air hostess as it seemed so glamorous, but I couldn’t bear having my ears out.’
Negative thoughts about her protruding ears dominated Yasmin’s every day life.
It almost stopped her being a bridesmaid at her mum’s wedding.
In the end her mum changed the hairstyle of another bridesmaid from an up do to accommodate Yasmin.
She says: ‘I’ve been with my boyfriend a long time and the next natural step is to marry.
‘But I worried constantly about it. My ears actually put me off the thought of marrying because I didn’t want everyone to look at me.’
In 2011 Yasmin’s mum paid for her to have a breast enlargement for her 21st birthday.
It took her breasts from an AA to a DD cup.
She was so pleased with the results she asked her surgeon if he could do something with her ears.
She says: ‘He actually said to me, “I was wondering when you’d ask me about your ears”.
‘I booked in to have an operation in 2013 but I bottled out because it was quite a big procedure.’
Nevertheless, paranoia over them grew and Yasmin would scour the internet for alternatives to major surgery.
Earlier this year she found out about earfold which involves putting an implant inside the ear and reshaping it.
It is done under local anaesthetic and takes less than two hours.
Yasmin had the procedure done through the Changes Clinic, in Portsmouth.
The surgeon was able to pin Yasmin’s ears back by 1cm.
‘I wasn’t nervous at all,’ says Yasmin.
‘All I could think of was the end result. It didn’t even occur to me that I might be in pain –but there was hardly any anyway.’
Yasmin was delighted with the new shape of her ears.
She says: ‘This is going to sound dramatic, but I feel like a different person completely.
‘Going from not being able to wear my hair up, ever, to being able to do what I want after such a long time is such a nice feeling.
‘My friends have noticed a huge difference in me. I was a really outgoing person anyway, but now I’m much happier because I’m not constantly thinking about my ears.’
Yasmin’s 18-year-old sister Ellie, a trainee hairdresser, says the whole family are delighted for her.
‘Yasmin is a very bubbly person but she really didn’t feel confident inside because of her ears.
‘She had a real complex about it, but now she is much more confident.’
Yasmin is a great advocate of cosmetic surgery and says both the procedures she has had carried out have had a huge effect on her self-esteem.
Yasmin says: ‘I would like lots of things done, but I’m not vain. I will go out without make-up.’
‘The procedures I’ve had were because things really worried me.
‘I was an AA cup and my boobs were in line with my stomach. I hated them. Having them enlarged made me feel more womanly.
‘I believe cosmetic surgery is a good thing if there is something that really affects your life.
You don’t realise how much your image can get you down. I feel so much happier now.’
How earfold works
Earfold works by inserting a small implant made of metal alloy.
It is coated with 24-carat gold to reduce its visibility under the skin.
The implant is in a preset shape and when released it grips the cartilage and folds the ear into its desired new shape.
The position of the implant is then marked on the skin.
Local anaesthetic is used to numb the ear and a small incision is made to create a tunnel, the skin is pulled back and the implant is released.
It corrects the prominence of the ear.
Yasmin’s procedure took less than an hour.
Her earfold surgery was carried out by surgeon Dr Edward Bal and was booked through the Changes Clinic in Portsmouth.
Changes is one of the only clinics in Europe to offer nonsurgical pinnaplasty – pinning the ears back.
It costs around £2,000.
For more information go to changesclinic.co.uk.
The latest statistics from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons show that cosmetic surgery is booming.
In 2013 50,122 procedures were performed, a rise of 16.5 per cent on average overall.
There was a 41 per cent rise in liposuction procedures.
Breast augmentation was up 13 per cent and male surgery rose by 16 per cent overall. But the proportion held steady from 2012, with men still accounting for one in 10 procedures.