Gail's Gab: going under the knife and why the cosmetic surgery industry should be regulated

Has there ever been a more inappropriate acronym? BAAPS. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

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It seems more of us are plucking up the courage to go under the knife for cosmetic reasons. I say cosmetic reasons but frankly looking good and feeling good about yourself is not just a physical attribute. It promotes mental health as well. Looking good physically can often lead to feeling good mentally so I am certainly not going to have a pop at anyone who takes the surgical route to tackle body unhappiness.

In the last 12 months the number of nose jobs, boob jobs and face lifts increased by 10%. But the biggest growth area in the cosmetic surgery industry was liposuction which increased 41%.

I have to say I am not surprised by those figures. I have many friends who regularly or recently have taken a trip to the clinic to address the crow lines around the eyes or the wrinkles around the lips. Many a stunning lip pout out there owes more to collagen and surgical skill than natural looks.

Is it all an out of control vanity quest?

Well maybe vanity plays a big role but so what. We all like to scrub up and dress up for special occasions and it's all out there for the taking. False eyelashes, false nails, hair extensions, eyelash extensions. We get our hair done, nails done, fake tan on and proceed to squeeze our feet into high-heeled stilts in the name of fashion and vanity. Is it wrong? I don't think so. Whatever floats you're boat is my motto. If it makes you feel good and gives you more confidence then, so what!

Surely the increased physical and financial accessibility of cosmetic surgery makes it inevitable that many women, and increasing numbers of men, will spend some money to counter the inevitable rigours of mother nature.

A wee jab of the botox here and eye tuck there is becoming more common. These are procedures no longer the preserve of the rich. Breast implants have been around for decades and although many health concerns persist they are still in big demand.

According to BAAPS, there were 55,122 recorded cosmetic procedures in 2013. A 17% across the board increase on 2012. I believe that is a big under estimate of the number of UK citizens who have had some surgical work for it does not include those who have travelled abroad to maintain discretion. I know many men and women who have done just that.

I remember being pestered by a gutter journalist who was convinced I had went under the cosmetic surgical knife many years ago despite me denying it three times at my front door. What if I had done? Where is the story? Each individual should be allowed to make such a choice free of hassle or moral judgement. I have already admitted in this column to my dread of needles or else I'd have had the boobs and face lifted and tied in a knot on top of my head years ago!

My only caution is that the whole industry should be more tightly regulated. Surgeons must be properly accredited and any substances used have to be safe. The recent controversy over unauthorised silicone filler illustrates the potential problems. Cosmetic surgery has to be subjected to the most stringent safety regulations possible.

We all want to be attractive and confident in ourselves for longer. Cosmetic surgery can help and it will grow as more procedures become affordable. The industry shouldn't be shunned as a refuge for the vain but properly regulated as it becomes more widely used. Hopefully by then I'll have conquered my needle phobia and then some genius surgeon could have a go at transforming me into a 20 year old.

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