Cosmetic Surgery – The Price of Beauty

Youth and beauty.  Everyone aspires to hold onto these qualities for as long as possible, and the booming industry of cosmetic surgery has given many of us the chance to delay the passing of time and change aspects of our appearance.

The cosmetic surgery and procedures industry is forecasted to be worth £3.6 billion pounds by 2015 and there has been a recent surge in non-surgical procedures such as Botox and dermal fillers which can be carried out over a lunch-break.  However, a recent review commissioned by the Department of Health criticised the industry, stating that these practices were “almost entirely unregulated” whilst a new study found 13% of people who had had non-surgical procedures had allowed an unqualified person to perform the treatment.

The problems with cosmetic surgery

So what can go wrong with non-surgical cosmetic procedures?  Plenty, including:

• Allergic reactions

• Numbness (including Palsy)

• Lumps under the skin where injections have been placed which may need to be surgically removed

• Injections not being placed correctly, causing the medication to spread to adjacent tissues (this can cause dry eye, eyelid droop and crooked smiles)

• Nerve damage

Issues surrounding the risks of cosmetic surgery were highlighted last year when it was discovered that breast implants from PIP (Poly Implant Prothese) made from unauthorised silicone filler had twice the rupture rate of other implants.  Although the silicone was found not to be toxic or carcinogenic, a rupture can cause pain, inflammation and change the shape and feel of the breast. Around 300,000 women were affected in 65 countries.

Treatments such as Liposuction can result in severe complications if they are performed negligently including damage to internal organs and pulmonary embolisms. Even Rhinoplasty, which some people may consider to be a less invasive procedure, carries risks including; injury to the septum (the wall that separates your nostrils) and serious nasal blockages caused by swelling.

So what can a patient do to protect themselves from “cowboy” surgeons and negligent procedures?

It is important that anyone contemplating having a cosmetic procedure or cosmetic surgery consider the following:

Is the surgeon performing my procedure a member of The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS)?

Members of this not-for-profit organisation based at the Royal College of Surgeons are required to undergo thorough background screening before they can join. They are fully trained Plastic Surgeons and receive ongoing training and instruction as part of their membership.  You can find out more at

Beware of clinics and practitioners using hard sell techniques.

A reputable Cosmetic Surgeon will consult with you, not sell to you.  They will take the time to fully inform you of the risks involved in the procedure and make sure you are comfortable with them.  Be aware of clinics offering free consultations and non-refundable deposits.  You have a right to change your mind right up until the time you go to sleep for the operation and a responsible surgeon is unlikely to demand to keep any payments made if you decide the treatment is not for you.  Trust your instincts, if it does not feel right it probably isn’t.

Think about what is driving your decision to have surgery.

If you have recently been through a divorce, a family member has died, or you have experienced some other type of trauma in your life it is not advisable to have a cosmetic procedure.  Take some time out to think about your decision and revisit the idea in six months time when you can evaluate the facts clearly.

Use the ‘Treatments You Can Trust (TYCT) Cosmetic Injectable Treatments’ website to find a properly trained practitioner for cosmetic procedures.

TYCT works in association with the Department of Health, Care Quality Commission and the Health Protection Agency as well as industry experts.  They have developed a set of best practice standards for injectable cosmetic procedures which practitioners have to comply with in order to become registered members.

Finally, despite the inference from magazines and celebrity culture that cosmetic surgery and procedures are as commonplace as getting a new hairstyle, remember, especially in the case of cosmetic surgery, that you are undertaking a risky procedure that can have long-term, unintended consequences.  You need to give the whole process careful thought and take your time before you commit yourself to anything that you may regret further down the line.