A trip to Glasgow and a celebratory pint of Guinness marked the end of a long and emotionally painful journey for Ulsterman Robert Morrow – and the beginning of a new life in which he could literally lift his head up to the world.


For 86-year-old Robert, from Carrickfergus in Co Antrim, has been treated at last – after nearly 10 years – for Rhinophyma, a disfiguring nasal condition which he tried to hide by keeping his head down in public. It also was affecting his mental health.


A hugely successful laser excision operation carried out by aesthetic medicine specialist Dr Cormac Convery at Glasgow’s Ever Clinic means that he “feels born again”. He said: “I look in the mirror every day in disbelief to check that it has definitely gone.”


Robert, a retired motor mechanic, is the latest in a number of patients seen by Ever Clinic who feel that they have been badly let down by the NHS, which appears reluctant to deal with the debilitating condition which affects mainly older, white men.

Rhinophyma is a very visible disorder. It is caused by the proliferation of sebaceous glands and underlying connective tissue, and leads to severe swelling, lumps and redness of the skin. It is socially distressing and can lead to sufferers isolating themselves and withdrawing from society.


Robert, who has a wife, two daughters and a son, all living close by in Carrickfergus, first noticed the condition 10 years ago. He said: “I went to my doctor who diagnosed it and give me an ointment and antibiotics. This didn’t seem to do much good and actually got worse over time, particularly on one side of my nose.


“I was on the NHS waiting list for seven years and was only once called to check if I still wanted the treatment. I said yes but I was never called back. I was then told it could be another three years. This phone call took place two years ago.”


His daughter, Paulene Meehan, talked him into going to the clinic again, but he was told the waiting list would be lengthy and that, if he had the funds, he should consider going privately.


The family tried the two private options in Northern Ireland, but one had long waiting times and the other did not even respond. Paulene found Ever Clinic in Glasgow, submitted an online enquiry and got a call back from Managing Director Jonathan Toye within an hour.


She and her husband were booked for a weekend in Glasgow at the end of November so they took her mum and dad along to get the treatment. It took two hours in total and was close to 100% successful. There was no pain.

Robert said: “I definitely feel born again. I could see an improvement every day. The level of service has been exceptional and after care has been fantastic.”

Paulene added: “Jonathan said that the treatment at other clinics in Northern Ireland would have just been to cut off the growths and use plastic surgery but it wouldn’t have been as effective as the laser treatment.


“Also, the recuperation period from the plastic surgery approach was going to be nine months. Compare that to this treatment, where we went straight to a pub on George Square afterwards and got a pint of Guinness.

“It’s a real shame that such a treatment isn’t possible in Northern Ireland. However, it’s very straight forward to get to Glasgow. If my 86-year-old dad can do it, anyone can!

“When people think of private medical care, they assume it will be prohibitive. But the costs are reasonable and value for money considering the life-changing benefits it has brought my dad and the family.”

Robert added: “The service and attention for just one patient was incredible – and the reaction from my friends has been tremendous. I couldn’t rate the team at Ever Clinic highly enough.”


A Version of this story appeared in The Belfast Telegraph: