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Our love affair with cosmetic surgery

When it comes to the age-old fight against wrinkles and sagging skin, the recession isn’t stopping us getting cosmetic surgery, discovers Stephanie BellI

Whether it’s a nip and tuck, a boob job or face fillers, more women than ever before are opting for cosmetic surgery in the hope of halting the hands of time, or even turning back the clock.

Aesthetic surgery — the preferred term for cosmetic surgery — is one of the few industries to defy the recession by continuing to experience steady growth.

In the UK, 100,000 people a year are prepared to go under the knife to enhance their looks.

It’s big business and even scandals such as the PIP breast implant scare last year, have failed to put people off.

In fact, breast augmentation was the most popular procedure last year.

Second on the list were anti-ageing treatments, such as face and eye lifts.

According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) — which represents one in three plastic surgeons — brow lifts were up by 17%, while face and neck lift procedures increased by 14% in 2012.

And while it is mostly women who want to boost their natural assets

through surgery, more men are also seeking the surgeon’s help.

The most popular procedure for men in Northern Ireland is hair transplant, closely followed by nose jobs and surgery to reduce what are commonly known as ‘man boobs’.

Meanwhile, the demand for injectable treatments such as Botox, dermal fillers and face peels is increasing even faster, at around 10% a year, compared to 6% for surgical procedures.

The industry, though, has had to contend with a lot of controversy.

Last year’s PIP implant scandal led to a government review, resulting in a new Bill currently going through Parliament, which aims to establish minimum standards in costmetic surgery practice, including non-surgical procedures. Tighter regulation of the industry has been welcomed by leading Northern Irish consultant plastic surgeon Mr Brendan Fogarty.

Mr Fogarty, who is also lead clinician for burn surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, is a member of BAAPS.

 He said: “BAAPS is a not for profit research organisation and we all come from accredited backgrounds and are NHS consultants.

“From our point of view these scandals shouldn’t arise and the extreme examples of botched cosmetic surgery jobs you see on TV shouldn’t happen.

“It sullies the name of something which should be life enhancing for people.”

He adds that people seek cosmetic surgery for a whole host of reasons and while it is very common in Northern Ireland, it is still very much something we are not comfortable talking about.

He said: “The likes of Botox is more common than you might think. It’s a fallacy that cosmetic surgery is just something that only the celebrities of Beverley Hills get done.

“We are all human and as such will have various concerns about ourselves. In Northern Ireland discretion is very important and the vast majority of people who have cosmetic surgery will not talk about it, even though they may be beside you in work or at the school gates.”

We talked to three local people about their decision to have a cosmetic procedure and how they felt about the results.

Broadcast journalist Emma Louise Johnston (35) had Botox for the first time just before her wedding six years ago to Maghera businessman Jonathan Crawford (35). The couple have one daughter, Emily (20 months old), and are expecting their second child in July. She says:

}I’m extremely expressive and a very smiley person, and I was starting to get ingrained lines on my forehead and beside my eyes. I decided on Botox coming up to my wedding. I didn’t want to completely eliminate the lines, just soften them.

I think the most important thing is to do your research and make sure you are going to someone who is a trained medical professional, and I was totally reassured at Cosmetech in Holywood.

We spend so much on lotions and potions and they are never going to do as good a job as Botox. Afterwards my

face just looked very fresh, as if I had just had a great night’s sleep.

You hear about people getting so much Botox that it freezes their face and they have no expression lines at all. I would just hate that. I wouldn’t like to look like a freak. The idea of being frozen is horrific to me, and again, I think it comes down to who you choose to do it for you. I think a properly trained professional will want to ensure they create a natural look.

I have had it three times since. It’s not that it wears off and you look terrible, in fact, I think the Botox slows down the process a bit and my lines aren’t as bad as they would have been if I had not got it.

It definitely makes you feel fresher and I just felt that I looked like me on a good day. Even my make-up went on better. My friends genuinely noticed a difference and asked me if I had changed my moisturiser or make-up.

At my age I can’t imagine having any other cosmetic procedure, but that’s not to say that if I live to 100 I might not feel that I could benefit from a wee tuck. I fully understand that people can change their attitudes to cosmetic surgery as they get older.

Mervin Boyd (53) has a successful Elvis tribute act known as The Elvis Spectacular. He lives in Belfast and has had a hair transplant and Botox. He says:

}I first tried Botox two years ago to see if it would make any difference. I felt I had a few frown lines on my forehead and around my mouth, and I suppose it was just vanity and being in the music business which made me try Botox.

I went to Medicosmedic and had the injections in my forehead and round my mouth. I was told they would last about six months, but they have lasted well over a year and I plan to go and get it done again soon.

I’ve also had the hydro derma treatment, which cleans out all your crevices and hydrates your face.

I had no real concerns going for Botox as so many people have done it. I’m the type of person if I want something I will do it, and I felt that I was going to a responsible company. It cost £500 and I was absolutely pleased with the effect. I felt younger and a bit fresher, and it does give you a lift. People did comment on it.

It was painful getting the injections in the sides of my mouth and there was a bit of bruising for a couple of days. I also had a hair transplant. I had developed a bald patch which I was very conscious of. I used to spray it with a product that sticks to the hair and gives the illusion of more hair.

I had always had long hair and the idea of having a sunroof didn’t appeal to me. I would be vain, and I was very self-conscious about my hair. The transplant took about five hours and involved having follicles removed and replanted. It cost £3000 three years ago, but it was worth every penny.

I’m glad I got it done and it feels good because it is my own hair. I’ve read about cosmetic surgery scares, but so many people are getting it done now and I think as long as you know you are going to a reputable company.

Andrea Close (46), a trichologist from Dundonald had a breast reduction five weeks ago. A single mum to two boys Alistair (17) and Gareth (12), she is over the moon with the results. She says:

}When I turned 40 my whole body shape changed and my breasts just seemed to get bigger and bigger. They went from a 34B to a 36FF. I was suffering real pain and discomfort.

I was getting headaches on a daily basis, and the weight of my breasts was starting to give me back pain. I just felt generally depressed on a day-to-day basis. I remember going to buy a new bra and I was standing in the changing room getting measured and one of my breasts had gone up to a G cup, and I just stood and cried.

As well as the health issues I was very self-conscious about their size and was constantly trying to cover them by putting my arms across my chest.

I have always had a youthful mind and appearance, and would have bought clothes in the likes of New Look and Oasis but found myself having to go to what I would consider older-style fashion stores. When I was buying new clothes I would stand in front of the mirror and cry my eyes out.

I first thought about a breast reduction three years ago, and started to research consultants and surgical procedures and techniques.

Because of my own medical background and preparing people for scalp surgery, I realised how important it was to thoroughly research it. I did contact a couple of local clinics at the time, but felt that they were more interested in getting the money up front and I felt pressure from them and it just didn’t feel right.

Part of that time I delayed was also because of the health scares surrounding cosmetic surgery, especially the PIP implant problem. It all goes through your head. The day after my 46th birthday last October I decided to go for it.

I knew a scalp surgeon who had recommended Dr Brendan Fogarty of the Ulster Independent Clinic. He explained everything to me in a clear and concise way and reassured me as well as spelling out the disadvantages and risks. He didn’t just listen to me, but he heard what I was saying about what I wanted and that meant the whole world to me. From the word go he was brilliant and a real breath of fresh air.

I went into the clinic on January 3 for surgery the next day. That night before surgery was quite traumatic. All the doubts and fears I had just flooded my mind. I was really scared and thinking ‘what if I mark my body for life?’ And, as a single mum ‘what if I die under anaesthetic?’, and ‘what would happen to my children?’ The staff were great in helping to put my mind at ease.

The surgery lasted four hours and after when I saw my breasts for the first time, the feeling of relief and delight was instantaneous. I just felt pure joy. My body looked completely different. My best bit is that my arms now fit into my armpits once again, and I don’t look upper body broader anymore. My breasts have a new rejuvenated position.

I left the clinic with a full care package and haven’t really suffered much pain. You do need to take a month off work, and another downside is that your car insurance company may not allow you to drive for up to six weeks.

The scars run from mid-armpit to the centre of the breast plate, but are really disguised on the natural fold of the breasts. I just wish now I had of done it sooner. I feel so much lighter, the health benefits have been immediate and my body shape is completely different — and my confidence has just grown so much.

I’ve changed the colour of my hair and got a modern cut, and I feel fantastic. I’m now a 36D and it cost me £4,650 which has taken three years to save, but it has been worth every penny.

My advice to anyone considering cosmetic surgery is to check out the registered body of surgeons which can be found either at the BMA or Royal College of Surgeons.

The celebs who are happy to admit they’ve used Botox to keep them looking young

  •  Reality TV queen Kim Kardashian not only admitted to having Botox, but was filmed getting the jabs
  •  Amanda Holden puts her hand up to Botox, but denies getting a trout pout
  •  Even supermodels need a beauty boost. Linda Evangelista has had the injectable version
  • Nicole Kidman was devoted to Botox, until recently when she declared she has stopped using it
  •  Jennifer Aniston keeps fresh-faced and lovely due to a healthy lifestyle ... and a little help from Botox
  •  Dannii Minogue has had a boob job and uses Botox to make her ‘feel nicer’, but says surgery won’t make you happier
  •  Celebrity implant pioneer Pamela Anderson had her boobs first done in the 1980s. Since then, she’s had them removed then replaced.

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