Cosmetic Surgery Support is out there…
Cosmetic surgery and non-surgical cosmetic procedures are more popular than ever. Did you know that this industry is still largely unregulated. We may believe that because the person who is injecting us is a doctor or a nurse that we are in safe hands but this is not always the case. Training in cosmetic injectables in the UK is so poor that even doctors and nurses will only have undergone a day or two of training before ‘specializing’ in aesthetic injectables. Many will not have had any training at all. In the case of surgery, statistics are not available for patients to make informed choices. About 16 years ago, I became aware of both this lack of regulation together with the fact that marketing and advertising pretended to be information. Many clinics provide ‘patient advisors’ who are really marketing experts. This is very misleading for the majority of patients who would not think to question the qualification of people in white coats in ‘medical’ clinics. The upshot of this is (mainly female) poorly informed patients and clients with unrealistic expectations.
So, on January 14, 2000 I launched a website called CosmeticSupport.com where I donated for free my psychotherapy skills in order to provide independent emotional support to patients. Anyone can log on and join the discussion board or if I am online, they can talk to me directly. We also have live face-to-face group meetings where people can meet one another to ask all those questions they were too afraid to ask a doctor, surgeon, nurse or other aesthetic professional.
I now have a second website called Cosmetic Surgery Counselling also known as The Beautiful Conversation. Industry marketing did not welcome the idea of independent emotional support thinking (without any evidence) that it might prove a disaster for profits. Aesthetics is both business and medicine and must remember to always put patients before profits. Sadly this has not always been the case.
So what exactly is independent emotional support? Independent means that we do not sell products or injectables or surgery and nor do we offer referrals for a commission. I am an independent service but I am also an ethical service because I am a member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy who have a code of ethics which I stick to.
Emotional Support means counselling but rather than the long drawn out type of therapy we hear about on tv, this is a short-term focused counselling that gets straight to the heart of the issue very quickly and in many cases is an enjoyable experience. People think we are only there when things go wrong but the truth is that many people enjoy support when adjusting to good results too.
In 2012, I was invited to the Palace of Westminster to give evidence on the state of patient safety within the aesthetics industry and as a result, the All Party Parliamentary Group (now known as the BeReal Campaign) published a report recommending my service. It’s shocking to think that women who make up the majority of patients in the UK are still not being provided with enough information and funding to make an informed choice. If you feel strongly about this, please contact me and find out how you can help. Every woman I know, knows someone who has had or is considering a cosmetic surgery or procedure. Every patient (man or woman) deserves to be well-informed. Cosmetic procedures are every bit as much psychological as they are physical. Knowing who to speak to is an important part of any procedure. Too many online support groups operate with hidden commercial and/or referral agendas or simply operate without knowing enough information to guide you. Let’s face it, if they are offering support as well as a procedure then their support can’t be independent. It is independent information and support that helps create well-informed choice and realistic expectations.
Cosmetic surgery is absolutely fantastic when it goes right and brings many psychological benefits but it is not guaranteed to go right. Preparation is key which is why I offer a pre-procedure counselling service and a post-procedure counselling service as well as a service for friends and family who may have their own issues about loved ones and surgery.
In the UK today, if your procedure goes wrong you have less rights than if you had bought a ball-point pen and we think that needs to be changed.
I am a member of:
British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy
Expert Reference Group for Health Education England Qualification Recommendations
British Standards Institute for aesthetic safety
All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image
If you want to know how to support what I do, please contact me through Those London Chicks or cosmeticsupport.com