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A hefty price tag – the financial, emotional and physical costs of cosmetic surgery

Posted: 14/12/2016

Cosmetic surgery is far less taboo than it used to be as well as more accessible generally. Nowadays, it is not just celebrities and the wealthy who are undergoing surgery of some description to keep themselves looking young. Unfortunately, however, it is becoming more common for surgery to be overdone and after several face lifts, for example, cosmetic surgery patients can be left with an overstretched look, where they seem unable to show emotion. With cosmetic surgery now well established, here is a look at some of the more radical surgery performed.

Full face lift

As we grow older, it’s no surprise that we don’t look as young as we once did. Wrinkles start appearing and skin can begin to sag. Of course, we all age differently, and while some people start seeing signs in their early twenties, others have great skin with minimal wrinkles until their late forties or fifties. It really comes down to genetics. Our skin goes through many changes as we age; the lower layer of our skin gets thinner and two of the tissue types, elastin and collagen, start breaking down, which affects the elasticity and tautness of our skin. When our skin loses elasticity, it is more susceptible to gravity, and this is what causes sagging.

The face lift procedure seems for some people to be the answer but it won’t fix all problems. Some patients are left disappointed and feel they have no choice but to undergo further surgery, such as an eyebrow lift and eye lift. A ‘full face lift’ can cost in excess of £15,000, depending on the technique used and the extent of the procedure chosen.

The Mommy makeover                      

While the ‘Mommy makeover’ is not a medical term, due to the rising popularity of this type of surgery, and the fact that it is mostly ‘mums’ who undergo it, the name has come across from the United States and stuck.

The ‘Mommy makeover’ usually involves a tummy tuck, liposuction and breast work. With pregnancy sometimes taking its toll on the female figure, especially after several babies, it is not surprising that mums are looking for a quick fix or to fix body parts that, no matter how much exercise is undertaken, are unlikely to return to their pre-pregnancy state. It seems that the title ‘Mommy makeover’ became more popular when women who embarked on their first cosmetic surgery, realised that one procedure wasn’t enough and that they required some more enhancements to their post pregnancy figure, leading to breast work and liposuction. These procedures can cost approximately £20,000.

The full body lift

The ‘full body lift’ is one of the most extensive cosmetic surgeries that anyone can undergo. It is carried out on obese people who have lost a significant amount of weight. Once the weight has gone, they are left with layers of excess skin. Unfortunately, the human skin can only stretch so far, until it is unable to return to normal. A tummy tuck can still leave loose fat on the back, for example, meaning surgery is desirable there as well. The answer can be to remove excess skin from the abdomen, pull the skin up from the buttocks and down from the stomach, resulting in excess skin being removed from all the way around the body.

This surgery costs between £25,000 and £35,000 and carries a significant risk of infection, as the body is healing a vast area, all at the same time.

Face transplant

A face transplant is a medical procedure to replace all or part of a person's face using tissue from a cadaver. The world's first partial face transplant was carried out in France in 2005 while the first full face transplant was completed in Spain in 2010. Facial reconstruction is extremely complex, time consuming and is reported to be one of the most expensive surgeries available. The procedure can involve transplantation of teeth, the upper and lower jaw, tongue and all facial tissues, starting at the scalp and going to the base of the neck. The surgery requires a donor, as some parts of the face are too hard to replicate.

A facial transplant is regarded as a reconstructive procedure, generally performed on trauma victims. The operation itself is unlikely to be the end of the story, with patients needing substantial follow-up care and medication to prevent rejection. A serious rejection can result in death.

Alison Johnson, a senior associate in the cosmetic surgery team at Penningtons Manches LLP, says: “All surgery comes at a cost, and not purely financial, as it carries risk even in the most capable of hands. Patients need to weigh up those risks for themselves and minimise them by choosing their surgeon carefully and following medical advice. Some fabulous work is undertaken by reconstructive surgeons to rebuild the lives of trauma victims, such as facial transplants, for example. We wonder how long it will be before such procedures are being requested for purely cosmetic reasons and whether or not this is a trend to be encouraged.”

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP