Why Northern Ireland women are lining up to go under the knife for cosmetic surgery
With celebs like Kourtney Kardashian and Sharon Osborne admitting they’ve have had work done, a new report shows more women than ever are having boob jobs and lipo. Stephanie Bell reports
Whether it’s a nip or a tuck or something a bit more drastic such as breast augmentation or a nose job, more and more people are now going under the knife to enhance their looks.
New figures published yesterday show a record number of people undergoing surgical cosmetic procedures in the UK during 2015.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said there were 51,140 operations last year — up from 45,406 the year before.
The industry had suffered a recent decline which was blamed on the recession and fallout from the faulty breast implants scandal.
While most procedures were carried out on women — nine out of every 10 — there was also a rise in men seeking surgery.
Breast augmentation remains the most popular operation, with 9,652 procedures in 2015 (up 12% on 2014).
Meanwhile, liposuction saw the biggest jump — up 20% — with 5,551 procedures last year.
Nose jobs, tummy tucks and brow lifts were also on the list of most popular treatments.
Women accounted for 46,526 procedures, with the most popular operations being breast enlargement, eyelid surgery, face and neck lifts and breast reduction.
And the most popular treatments for men was eyelid surgery, followed by nose jobs, breast reduction, liposuction and pinning back ears.
Although men account for just 9% of the total number of cosmetic surgery operations in the UK, their numbers have nearly doubled over the past decade from 2,440 procedures in 2005 to 4,614 in 2015.
Consultant plastic surgeon and former BAAPS president, Rajiv Grover, says: “The double digit rise suggests that the public are choosing to spend on treatments with a proven track record such as facelifts and liposuction.
“Perhaps the decline of the ‘hyper-masculine’ look fashionable last year which has given way to a sharper, more slim line shape has influenced men — and it certainly appears both genders seem encouraged by a new openness in glamorous celebrities admitting they have had a little surgical help to enhance their looks.
“There is a danger, however, that this presents the image of cosmetic surgery as a commodity, so the public must always be warned that an operation is not something that can simply be returned to the shop if you don’t like it,” he adds.
Self-confessed cosmetic surgery addict, Leza Drummond (33), a barber from Bangor, has spent thousands of pounds on her looks and intends to spend more.
A petite size 6 with a chest measuring 32 FF, Leza has found herself the butt of jokes and cruel taunts about her looks. She has been called a “Barbie doll” and a “plastic fantastic” bimbo — but the North Down woman, who works for Jason Shankey Male Grooming, says it doesn’t annoy her in the slightest.
“If people call me names or taunt me about a picture I put up on Facebook or Instagram, I just retaliate by putting more pictures up as my way of sticking two fingers up at them,” she says.
Leza recalls that her journey with cosmetic surgery began back when she was 18 and she started earning her own money and was able to “do what she liked with it”.
“I started having lip fillers and Botox done,” she explains, “and I admit I became addicted and kept having it done.”
An expensive hobby, Leza reveals that each of her fillers costs up to £400 a time and she has them done every two months.
“It is expensive, but the way I look at it is, this is something I want to do. It is my own money I work hard for it and as long as my bills are paid and I don’t owe anyone any money then I can do what I like with it.”
Leza’s most expensive procedure though, came seven years ago when she had a breast enlargement going from a size 32C to 32F.
"The procedure cost £3,500 and I took a loan out to have it done. I had it done in a private clinic in Birmingham and it took me two years to pay it off.
"I went over by myself and wasn't nervous at all. I couldn't wait until I had it done.
"The reason for the surgery was that I was unhappy with my size and had wanted this procedure since I was 18. So I had waited a long time and had done my research - I knew what I wanted.
"Friends and family tried to talk me out of it, saying I looked fine the way I was, but I was really unhappy with my looks and lacked confidence."
The only person who supported Leza in her quest for the perfect figure was her mum - who also had similar surgery when she was younger.
"Mum understood how important this was to me."
After the surgery Leza says she felt fantastic and was delighted with her new look.
However, her elation was short lived as she started to have pain in her chest and it turned out her implants were part of faulty batches which had to be replaced and she was recalled for further surgery.
"It was finally sorted out and I went up to a size 32FF this time and was over the moon with the results."
Citing her role model and style icon as Jodi Marsh, Leza, who has numerous tattoos, says she would consider going even bigger.
The only stumbling block is her boyfriend of one year, Graeme McAuley, a bookmaker who likes her just the way she is.
"My boyfriend says he loves me the way I am and doesn't want me to have any more surgery on my breasts, but I would like to go up a few sizes.
"Yes, I will admit that once I've had the surgery now I am a bit of an addict. It's the same with fillers and Botox - I just keep going back for more."
Now describing herself as confident and outgoing, Leza says she does get stares and snide comments when she is out and wearing skimpy and revealing clothes but it is "water off a duck's back".
"I like my look now and I am confident and happy. I make sure all my bills have been paid and then the rest of my money goes on clothes and treatments.
"I don't have any children yet so I can do what I like with my money.
"I love tattoos as well and it is all part of my overall look. Lots of people think I look false and that's their opinion. I love the way I look. I never worried about the safety of the operations as I have always had faith in the medical profession. It was just bad luck the implants I had were part of a faulty batch - but it was fixed and I would do it all again.
"Life is about doing what makes you happy and everyone is different."
For another local woman investing money in cosmetic surgery has given her a new lease of life.
Forty-one years of feeling self conscious was wiped out in just 15 minutes for retired school teacher Alexandra Martin when she underwent a recent procedure to have unsightly varicose veins removed from her leg.
Alexandra (63), from Ballynahinch, can't believe how painless and how very quickly her agony ended after a very straight forward procedure at Kingsbridge Hospital.
The retired school teacher, who is married to Raymund (71), a farmer and has three grown up sons, says she has spent decades feeling self conscious, especially when on holiday.
She explains: "Two small varicose veins and one big horrible one developed during my first pregnancy and I have lived with them for 41 years.
"I kept asking the doctor from time to time over the years about getting them removed and he said I had no chance on the health service.
"It was only when I read about a new procedure in Belfast that I thought about going privately and getting it done - and I am so glad that I did. All these years I have worn trousers or long skirts to try and hide the biggest vein which was just at the back of my leg below the knee. It was great in the winter because you could wear woolly tights.
"The worst thing was going on holiday and putting a swimsuit on and walking about with bare legs. I was always self conscious of it and I'm now really looking forward to being able to wear a swimsuit and not be thinking that someone is walking behind me looking at the veins in my legs."
Alexandra described the procedure as easier than giving blood. It involves a tiny needle being inserted into the vein with a solution which disperses the vein and makes it disappear.
The whole process lasted less than 20 minutes and aftercare involved wearing a tight stocking for two weeks.
She says: "The hardest part was that you can't shower or bath for a week after it. Afterwards life for me carried on as normal. There is no pain and I was even able to continue doing yoga. The whole thing was completely pain free and so easy. There is no scarring or marks and the vein has completely gone.
"It is one of those things that you talk about, but never get round to doing. When you do, you wonder why you hadn't done it sooner.
"I can't wait to wear knee length skirts and going on holiday this year for the first time in years."
The price of varicose vein treatments can range from £280 to £2,800 depending on what type of treatment you receive.
Alexandra has not been given a final price as her procedure was carried out just three weeks ago. She adds, though: "I think it is money well spent and to be honest, I wish I had done it years ago."
Additional reporting by Karen Ireland
Stars who have made the cut
Kourtney Kardashian is open about the fact she had a boob job when she was at college
TV talent show judge and rock group promoter Sharon Osbourne has always talked openly about cosmetic procedures she has had on her body
Cameron Diaz has had several surgeries on her nose after breaking it on more than one occasion