Saturday 18 November 2017

Dr Ciara Kelly: 'There's a fat chance of me having cosmetic surgery'

Dr Ciara Kelly Photo: David Conachy
Dr Ciara Kelly Photo: David Conachy
Surgery isn't like shopping
Dr Ciara Kelly

Dr Ciara Kelly

Who among us doesn't have a bit of themselves that they don't like? A flat chest? Flabby abs? A droopy eye? For me it's my double chin. It doesn't matter what I weigh - my turkey neck is my hated part. Ever since fifth class in primary school when another 11-year-old, who almost certainly doesn't remember this now - cruelly pointed it out to me!

I was a stick-thin child but from that day I never felt I had a good jawline - plus it was made all the worse by the fact that it had a prominent mole on it from around the same age! I blame my slack-jawed yokel genes. But that, coupled with the chant of 'Ciara Kelly broke her belly sliding down a lump of jelly' - the curse of Kelly children everywhere - meant I had a piece of me I was very self-conscious about from a young age.

Anyway - that's really a matter for therapy - but the point is, I do get the temptation to have a bit of me 'fixed'. To take that part of yourself about which you think 'if it wasn't for X - I'd look OK!' And get rid of it. But to actually have it done is a very different matter. Especially if, like me you're very aware that surgery doesn't always go according to plan. There's a reason why there are far more TV shows about cosmetic cock-ups than there are about people who look lovely, are now happy in themselves and thrilled with the results after going under the knife.

I had a hernia repair operation last year - I told you all about that - and ended up on antibiotics for five weeks afterwards when the wound became infected and broke down. It was nobody's fault; these things often happen after surgery. But let's just say I'm glad the subsequent scar isn't on any bit of my body that's on regular display! And that kind of thing is no less likely to occur when the operation you're going for is designed to make you look better. The reality is, there is always the risk it could make you look far, far worse.

So that's my starting point when someone asks me whether or not they should proceed with cosmetic surgery; have you thought about what could go wrong? It would be marvellous if we could just buy a new bit for our body that would seamlessly replace the bit we don't like - but surgery isn't like shopping. It's a dynamic process that can result in lots of unexpected and unpleasant consequences. Everything from nasty, ugly scars to death can happen on the operating table. And then there's the more prosaic stuff - the result that isn't as good as you were hoping for, that is barely noticeable and makes no difference whatsoever to your life, so you don't know why you bothered.

The other problem when people are thinking of going for a procedure is, where to go? Cosmetic surgery isn't properly regulated in Ireland with no proper specialist training schemes and no standard of training that's needed before you can open up a clinic - so basically a doctor with very little training can go into this area and practice on you - literally as well as medically. It really is a case of buyer beware! It has always struck me as counter intuitive that the medical council is more exacting about doctors working in areas of medicine that are actually clinically necessary, than they are about docs who work in areas that really aren't medically necessary at all. The basic tenant of medicine is 'do no harm,' which means the benefits should always outweigh the risks in order to proceed, and cosmetic surgery really doesn't fit that bill.

The last thing I'll say about my own relationship with my flabby neck is this; I notice as I've gotten older and more confident as a person, it's amazing how much less of a double chin I have! Despite the opposite probably being true. The fact is, a lot of our perceived flaws are more about what's going on in our minds than what's actually going on in our bodies. And trying to fix low self-esteem - surgically - may not be the best or most effective way to go about it. My new TV series Body Shopping will be out on RTE One soon where we will follow nine Irish people who are going for cosmetic procedures at home and abroad and following up how it all works out for them. And seeing if it actually makes them any happier in the end.

@ciarakellydoc

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