Every day I hear patients talk about the risks of having cosmetic surgery.
They are worried that they won’t wake up from the anaesthetic and will leave their children motherless.
They tell me stories they have heard about someone who once died having a cosmetic procedure.
I sense that there is often a feeling of guilt particularly when parents are having cosmetic surgery because they feel that they should be spending the money on their children and it is selfish.
I can totally understand these feelings.
I think they are based on the notion that somehow cosmetic surgery is less worthy than other types of surgery.
I am the first to point out to patients the risks of having cosmetic surgery and I think it is essential that you are fully informed to allow you to make a balanced decision.
However the decision has to be balanced.
Unfortunately we are fighting against the media who can portray an unbalanced view.
The fact that there is a television series called ‘Botched’ tells us that we love stories of when things go wrong and we love to see images of people who have come to harm having cosmetic surgery.
However in the day-to-day practice of cosmetic surgery and certainly in terms of the complication rates of this sort of surgery, the actual risk of coming to harm is extremely small.
We have to appreciate that there are risks with any surgery and indeed with any undertaking in life.
Crossing the road, driving a car, having a shower or even putting your socks on is associated with the potential to come to harm and yet whilst we all know the risks we accept that they are small and so we can balance them against the decision of wearing socks or smelling nice or reaching our destination.
The other reason that I feel patients often make unbalanced judgements about having cosmetic surgery is that our society does not value mental health on equal terms with physical health.
You just have to see how someone is treated in the workplace if they return from having a period off for stress compared with if they return from having a period off following a broken leg.
Your colleagues will be forthcoming to make sure you can rest with your leg up and to see if they can get you any lunch if you’ve broken your leg and yet we struggle to engage or to know what to say when someone is suffering with a mental health problem.
By the same token if you’re having surgery to improve your feeling of self-esteem, it is deemed somehow less worthy than if you are having surgery to improve a physical element such as a hernia repair or surgery for indigestion or headaches.
There are risks with any surgery yet we wouldn’t feel the same way about leaving our children behind or feeling selfish if we were having a hernia repaired which was uncomfortable and affecting our quality of life.
Yet if we are having a breast reduction which may be equally uncomfortable and perhaps even more so, we somehow feel that this is less necessary and are likely to experience more guilt over it.
Cosmetic surgery has a bad name, but it is never just cosmetic.
There are always emotional and psychological elements and there is no doubt you can have a tremendous benefit in terms of improvement in quality-of-life and feeling of well-being.
The media portrayal of what cosmetic surgery involves is nothing like the day-to-day practice of most plastic surgeons in the UK.
I am passionate about raising awareness of the real side of cosmetic surgery and the real people that I can help.
On Wednesday, the 29th of January I am holding an event in my clinic in Birmingham where I will be talking about breast implants which have come under a lot of scrutiny recently.
I will be presenting a balanced view about all of the controversies and complications associated with breast implants to allow you to balance this with the benefits that you might hope to achieve by having breast implants.
The event is free and you be welcome to bring a friend. If you want to come along then please let me know.
Please comment below and I hope to see you there.