The Guardian newspaper posed this question to its readers after recent data compiled by The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) revealed that the number of people in Britain undergoing cosmetic surgery is the lowest in nearly a decade. Here are some of the responses received:
"I had breast augmentation at the age of 21. I had recently broken up with a long-term partner of five years, so I changed my appearance: I lost loads of weight, got new hair and fake boobs. I regret it so much now. I developed problems almost immediately afterwards and have had to live with them ever since."
"I have no regrets – I am happy with my surgery. Surgery numbers might be down because of the economy. I have read a lot of articles about people having bad experiences, too."
"I was 26 when I had my breast augmentation. I had thought about getting surgery on and off for a while, but had only given it serious consideration for about a year. I did intensive research online and saw a couple of surgeons before I signed up. The operation went well. I woke up feeling like I had a baby elephant sitting on my chest and my boobs were so high up they looked ridiculous. I was surprised at how long they took to ‘settle in’ so to speak. I love them now, though. My advice to anyone considering surgery is to research the risks and find a good surgeon."
"I had two children in quick succession, put on a lot of weight during my second pregnancy, and was left with a stomach that sagged to my thighs. My GP said that I would be eligible for a breast reduction on the NHS as I was suffering with severe back pain. However, I didn’t take it further at the time. Instead, I got to 40, lost a lot of weight and hated the way I looked. I investigated plastic surgeons and settled on one with a long waiting list. When I met the surgeon who was going to work on me, I didn’t like him. He was detached, arrogant and patronising. But he had a good reputation, so I booked to have a breast reduction and tummy tuck. The end result was disastrous. I looked like I had been chewed. I can laugh about it now, but all I got from him was a letter acknowledging that I wasn’t happy with the surgery and offering revision. I had corrective surgery elsewhere. I was and remain thrilled with the results – the next surgeon miraculously erased my scars and gave me a better body than I’ve ever had."
Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches specialising in cosmetic surgery claims, comments: "So what can we take from these responses? Well it is evident that many people have a good result from their treatment and they have no regrets. It is also important to remember that we tend to only hear about when cosmetic surgery goes wrong rather than when it goes right, however, when it does go wrong, as can be seen from some of the examples above, the results can be disastrous. I think the clear message for those considering surgery is to do your research and make sure you understand the risks involved. You need to be confident both in your surgeon and the actual decision to proceed. There can be a tendency for surgeons and clinics to rush their patients into a making a decision, but any reputable surgery or clinic will be happy to offer as much time as you need to decide whether to go ahead with the procedure. An informed patient is an informed choice."