Neo the Neapolitan Mastiff is feeling on top of the world after Swindon vets removed a kilo of excess skin during a facelift.
The surgery on the 150lb dog, who lives in Chippenham with owner Mark Hutchins and his family, was no mere vanity procedure, though.
Neo was admitted to Eastcott Veterinary Referrals, in Dorcan, in obvious pain and struggling to see after being plagued with sagging eyes, inward and outward turning eyelids and huge skin folds on his head and face.
The folds became so troublesome that the unhappy hound's owners had to hold them back while he ate from his bowl.
Eastcott head of ophthalmology Ida Gilbert headed up the urgent case during lockdown and worked with specialist soft tissue surgeon Andrew Phillips and fellow ophthalmologist Dave Johnson to successfully tackle the literally eye-opening operation and give Neo a new lease of life.
Ida, an advance practitioner in veterinary ophthalmology, said: “Neo was clearly struggling, so was considered to be an urgent case and was prioritised for surgery.
“His vision was poor due to his eyelid conformation and extremely heavy facial folds. He had also developed very sore eyes because of the irritation from his condition.
“The constant irritation caused Neo to rub his eyes repeatedly, which worsened the situation, and he’d also become anxious about anyone attempting to handle around his eyes and face, which made the application of eye drops nearly impossible for his owners.
“A full investigation revealed the eyelids and skin folds were causing irritation to the cornea and putting Neo in a lot of discomfort.
“There was inflammation and damage to the left cornea, he struggled to open his eyes and had a double kink in his left upper eyelid and a single in the right, due to the excessive eyelid lengths.”
Ida and her colleagues joined forces to maximise speed and expertise for the extensive operation, allowing the talented trio to operate on both eyelids while also completing the facelift to minimise the time for which Neo had to be anaesthetised.
Andrew added: “Neo underwent a surgical correction of his eyelids, along with a facelift to remove 1,050g of excess skin.
"He also had a shortening of his eyelids by 15mm and surgery to correct his inward and outward turning eyelids.
“He then stayed with us at the hospital overnight for careful monitoring of his recovery and provision of good pain relief.
“Everything went well and it has really given Neo a new lease of life and opened his eyes again to the world around him. He has healed very nicely and his owners report he is a much happier dog as a result of the surgery.”
Relieved owner Mark Hutchins said: “I know it sounds a bit mad when you talk about a dog having a facelift but it was a very traumatic time for the family.
“Neo was having a lot of problems with his face and eyes because he had so much saggy skin hanging down and he was in a lot of pain and discomfort.
“When he was eating food from his bowl, we even had to pull his skin back for him, so he could see his meal and eat it properly.
“It was obvious something had to be done, although we were very worried that he wouldn’t look the same afterwards, especially my daughter Millie, who was a bit tearful over it all.
“Thankfully, the results have been amazing and made a big difference to Neo, who’s recovered very well, and we owe a big thank-you to the team at Eastcott.
“They were absolutely brilliant and Neo had been operated on within three days of us contacting them, which was terrific.
“Now it’s all over, we can finally see the funny side of it and it’s already led to a few chuckles. When people say to me ‘Oh isn’t he lovely?’ I say ‘That’s because he’s just recovering from a facelift’.
“No-one believes me when I say the vets removed more than a kilo of skin - they think I’m joking, but it’s absolutely true and Neo’s all the better for it.”
Eastcott Referrals promises expert care in cardiology, dentistry, internal medicine, ophthalmology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, oncology orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery, laparoscopy, thoracoscopy, diagnostic imaging and CT, anaesthesia and analgesia, and has its own dedicated 24/7 emergency care centre.
More information about its work can be found at www.eastcottreferrals.co.uk and by searching for the organisation on social media.