GENERALLY, most people avoid knives, blood and surgery.
Not so the 50,000 or more people – about five times the population of Mold – who opted for elective cosmetic surgery in the UK last year.
According to this week’s announcement by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), 2013 was the biggest year for procedures like breast implants, face and neck lifts and “man boob” reductions since the recession hit.
This is even after the PIP scandal in 2012 where thousands of women learned they had been fitted with faulty implants.
If comments from Leader readers are anything to go by, there are a fair few people in Wrexham and Flintshire who would be willing to go under the knife.
I am ambivalent about unnecessary surgery, mainly because I spent time with a school-friend who was recovering in the aftermath of rhinoplasty.
The former Ysgol Bryn Coch pupil, who has moved away from Mold, had a nose job several years ago after being bullied at school.
She confided in me that cruel classmates would call her “Concorde” and that the procedure would help boost her self-esteem – although she may have had other, more complex reasons.
The operation itself was a relatively unbloody process.
Rather than breaking the cartilage and leaving her with two black eyes and scarring, the surgeons operated from inside using keyhole instruments. By the time I visited her, the only visible sign of the operation were the stitches inside her nostrils – and she had to tip her head back to display them.
The reason it bothered me was because, although she looked beautiful after the operation, I thought she’d looked beautiful before it as well.
It angered me that she had undergone a painful, expensive procedure, because I believe to this day that it was the idiot school kids who were at fault, not her nose.
She should not have had to change herself when they were in the wrong.
More recently, she opted for a boob job and was thoroughly satisfied with the outcome.
She still looks stunning right now.
Adie Drury, 31, of Ewloe, is in line for a tummy tuck after shedding over seven stone since 2011, dropping from 18 stone to just over 10.
She said: “I lost more than a third of my body weight, but as far as I’m concerned, it isn’t over yet. I can run upstairs now, I have no asthma for the first time since I was seven years old and I can run around after my kids.
“That’s all great, but in terms of self-esteem, I’m exactly where I was.
“I can fit into pretty dresses now, but in one way I’m no happier than I was. Because I was pregnant twice at 18 stone, the skin on my stomach has stretched beyond all recovery. I have the abdominal tone of an 80-year-old. I think it’s disgusting.”
Adie has to maintain the lower weight for two years to be considered for an NHS tummy tuck, and she can’t afford to go private.
She said: “It does affect things. I find it difficult to maintain a romantic relationship because I can’t get past the idea of not being clothed.
“I just have to hope I can get the procedure done.”
So what is it like to have surgery?
Lisa Henri, 49, a breast cancer survivor from Buckley, underwent reconstructive surgery last year after having both her breasts removed.
Her circumstances were somewhat different to those who opt for elective procedures, as medical treatment for her illness radically changed her body.
But her experiences have left the entrepreneur, who set up her glitter tattoo company Glitterbugz while in recovery, with firm ideas about cosmetic surgery.
She said: “I was diagnosed with cancer in 2011.
“Because of my age and because of the advanced state of the cancer, the doctors decided it would be best to remove my other breast as well, which happened in 2012.
“For a few months I had nothing.”
Reconstructive surgery around the damaged tissue was painful.
Lisa said: “I was out for about five hours. When I went home, I had to sleep upright for a few months because it hurt too much to lie down.
“After having a mastectomy and implants I can honestly say how anyone has implants for beauty rather than necessity is beyond me. There was real pain and discomfort.”
But Lisa said she did not judge anyone who opted for cosmetic surgery even while healthy.
She said: “People have their reasons. At certain points, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. What worries me is that as a society we seem to be developing a kind of body dysmorphia.
“I speak to some girls in their 20s and they are having facial procedures and they really do regard this as a kind of insurance policy for the future.
“I don’t know why we’re so afraid of aging. People are chasing this impossible ideal of youth and beauty. I’d rather be healthy and happy with a few wrinkles.
“People say that it’s about confidence and self esteem, but that has to come from the inside.”
We asked Wrexham and Flintshire residents what they thought of cosmetic surgery – would they opt for it, or not?
Gary Simpson, 40, of Wrexham, said: “Plastic surgery for cosmetic or vanity reasons is not everyone’s cup of tea.
“It should only be available on the NHS where there is a genuine underlying reason, for instance for burns victims, dog attacks or victims of violence.
“Let’s not forget much of the pioneering work was done around the casualties of war.”
Marc Roberts, 33, of Wrexham, said: “Everyone has something they’re not happy about. If you fix them they will always find something else to be unhappy about.
“People should be happy with simply good health and stop investing in an industry that revolves around celebrities that in real life look like the rest of us minus the photoshop.”
Rowena Gleed, 39, of Llangollen, said: “I would definitely consider a helping hand or a quick fix. I don’t think I’d ever have anything done to my face as I don’t think I’d like to not feel like me but my body, that’s a different matter.” Anne Williams, 55, of Wrexham, said: “Oh, there’s loads of things I would change in and out”, while Sallie Griffiths, 54, of Wrexham, said: “Can’t afford it!”
Natalie Jones, 25, said: “I personally would never have plastic surgery. Everyone should be proud of what they are and how they look. After several operations I didn’t feel comfortable with the way I looked but now I’ve learnt to accept it and be happy.
“I don’t know how people can put themselves through unnecessary surgery when surgery of any kind is already scary and potentially dangerous but each to their own.”
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