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Aspiring to be a ‘Barbie Doll’ should send alarm bells ringing!

Alicia Douvall’s “why did nobody stop me wasting £1m to be the world’s most nipped and tucked woman?” has generated a fair amount of discussion at a time when the cosmetic industry’s ‘Leveson report’ is on the verge of release.

There are those who might think it’s a bit rich that somebody has achieved fame/notoriety almost solely for the ‘world’s most …’ tag, and has spent a 7-figure sum in the process. Should she be trying to shift blame onto those who have helped her achieve it? One answer to her question can be found in an earlier article from 2011, when she actually admitted to “flying all over the world when UK doctors refused to treat her”.

This tale does, however, highlight an increasingly common part of the plastic and aesthetic surgeon’s scope of practice – that of unrealistic expectations. Many people express this and we surgeons are constantly surprised when patients sit in front of us and innocently ask for ‘scarless’ surgery. The extreme end of the scale is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and when as florid as in Miss Douvall’s case is relatively easy to recognise. Bringing pictures of an entirely different person to consultation alerts the surgeon and, if true, a Barbie doll as the aim would be a very strong warning sign.

From the other side of the table, as it were, it is important to be aware that doctors in general frequently have important information concealed from them. Often this amounts to forgetfulness if many illnesses or procedures have occurred in a patient’s life, but aesthetic surgery still carries a degree of stigma such that full disclosure may not occur. Whilst even the least observant surgeon should spot a scar (and in some cases healing is so good as to make it more difficult than one would imagine), there is no way to tell if it represents 1 or 20 operations.

It is worthwhile and important to have further attention brought to the long overdue regulation of cosmetic surgery in the UK where safety and patient welfare are first and foremost and the financial inducements and hard-sell tactics of the last couple of decades return to the realm of large supermarket chains and the tins of beans they sell. The ‘lunchtime boobjob’ and ‘Botox parties’ should be locked away in the ‘really bad idea’ cupboard and remain there.

Daily Mail article:

Daily record article of 2011: