Your LIFE: Cosmetic Surgery: KNOW THE RISKS; Newsreader Kate Silverton Was off Work for Two Weeks When Surgery on Acne Scars Left Her Face Swollen. So How Can We Prepare Ourselves for the Risks If We Go for a Quick Fix?

Article excerpt

Byline: BY KIA HANSEN

WE had a total of 577,000 cosmetic operations and treatments last year, 200,000 more than in 2005.

But while more of us are undergoing procedures, we may not be fully aware of the potential risks, as the BBC's Kate Silverton, 37, discovered when laser treatment to remove acne scars on her cheeks left her face covered in painful swellings. Kate says: "The treatment caused a massive skin reaction."

Here is our guide to what to watch out for...

DO..

..your research

Get a personal recommendation if possible, and research the procedure, doctor and clinic thoroughly. Rajiv Grover, consultant plastic surgeon and secretary of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), says: "Some people spend longer choosing their bathroom tiles than they do their surgeon. It is essential to be selective. A good surgeon will have nothing to hide, so ask questions about his experience."

Check the BAAPS' website www.baaps. org.uk or call 020 7405 2234 for a list of registered surgeons.

..ask about the potential risks

Ask what could go wrong and how long recovery could take. "There are always risks, even with an extremely experienced surgeon," says Rajiv.

"Medicine is sometimes unpredictable so you need to address all the possible problems."

..be realistic

Make sure both you and the doctor are realistic about what can be achieved. According to figures from the Medical Defence Union, 42 per cent of claims against surgeons arose from people being unhappy with their results. Dr Christine Tomkins, deputy chief executive of the Medical Defence Union, says: "Patients' dissatisfaction could be avoided with improved communication between the doctor and patient."

..think twice about treatment abroad

Douglas McGeorge, consultant plastic surgeon says: "Choosing a surgery package holiday because it's cheaper is leaving yourself open to problems.

The standard of medicine may not be what you're used to. Complications do occur and are usually left to the British system to treat."

DON'T..

..do it on impulse

"Think carefully if you want to have something done," advises plastic surgeon David Gault. "Never decide when you're vulnerable or on impulse. If after a while you decide it is right for you, choose to have the treatment at a good time - not before a holiday or an important occasion - so that if something goes wrong, you've time to sort it out."

..think non-surgical is non-risk

There has been a huge growth in non-surgical treatments. In 2005, 230,000 of these treatments were carried out, in 2007 this rose to 472,000, according to Mintel.

Many high-street salons and clinics now offer injectables, such as Botox, and could soon offer laser treatments, which is a cause for concern, says Douglas. …