After cosmetic eyelid surgery left her incapable of fully closing her eyes, Marilyn Leisz said her life has been thrown into shambles.
After suing her New Jersey plastic surgeon, a jury on Wednesday awarded Leisz $115,000 -- an amount Leisz called "a joke."
"The award given to me can't anywhere touch what has happened with my eyes," said Leisz of her medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Paul Parker, a cosmetic surgeon in Paramus, N.J..
"I'm not happy with the decision," she said. "They didn't take into consideration what I go through every day. I expected around $500,000.
"But even with that, nothing can really make up for it," she said. "You can't put a price on your eyes."
In a statement, Parker said: "As a board certified plastic surgeon, over the past 25 years I have performed more than 10,000 surgical procedures. Our practice is centered on compassion, attention-to-detail and superior patient care."
"We have thousands of happy patients who voice their satisfaction through the personal letters they send us and countless, unprompted positive reviews and testimonials they post online."
Leisz has had two other eye procedures in the past. The first was meant to fix a congenital condition known as ptosis, where the muscles are not strong enough to hold up the lid, thus creating a droopy eyelid. The second was cosmetic.
In 2005, Leisz went to Parker to fix the second cosmetic eye surgery. She had small bumps along her eyelid creases from the procedure. Leisz said Parker initially gave her Scarguard, a cream that would help smooth the skin.
"I was satisfied with the results," she said. "But he told me that I could not see what he could see, and I'd be very unhappy with the way I looked in a few years. He told me I needed surgery."
He performed a blepharoplasty, an eyelid surgery meant to give a rejuvenated appearance to the surrounding area of the eye and make a person look rested and more alert.
When asked if she thought she should have questioned Parker, Leisz said: "He's the doctor. I trusted him. You're supposed to count on your doctor that they're being honest and truthful and not worrying about their own pocketbook."
But Parker had a different view.
"We are a reputable practice with a solid track record," Parker said in his statement. "This is based on our commitment not only to patient care but to pre-surgical counseling."
Since surgery, Leisz cannot fully close her eyes. She uses steroid drops and creams to lubricate her eyes and wears a mask over her face at night to prevent scratching her corneas.
Leisz said she is at high risk of getting glaucoma and potentially going blind because of the overexposure of her eyes.
She has visited a Pennsylvania eye specialist 45 times and has had 30 surgeries in five years in attempts to reverse the cosmetic surgery results.
Leisz said she has not been able to have a full life and participate in her favorite hobbies, such as swimming, gardening and tennis, because of her condition.
"From the minute I wake up, I have to worry about my eyes," said Leisz. "They're bloodshot and dry and feel like someone is always pinching them."
"I'm pretty much a blind person," she added. "I'm very worried about the health and deterioration of my eyesight."
The jury began deliberating the case last week.