As we march on towards the General Election on May 7, it is increasingly clear that for all the puff and bluster about the NHS being a vote winner, none of the main parties have truly connected with the challenges currently facing the country's healthcare system.
My horribly X-rated ear came about while sprucing myself for a night out. I made the rookie error of popping in earrings - which had the subtlety and restraint of The Phantom of the Opera's crashing chandelier - before aggressively combing the knots out of my newly-washed barnet.
As older women we need to take collective responsibility, talk ourselves up and stop chasing unrealistic ideals. We need to believe it's okay to look and act our age and it's not that horrifying. We need to get off the dance floor and sit this one out.
My enthusiasm turned to dismay when I was told that I didn't need the procedure because I didn't have enough facial laxity. I was flatly turned down. It turns out that my jowls are, in actual fact, a figment of my imagination.
Aging is about saying goodbye and a reminder of the ephemeral nature of life. Botox and plastic surgery are the favoured companions of many these days but they appeal to our fear of life and by inference, death. It is a sad indictment of our society that we do not value older people or the process of aging.
I began my career over twenty-five years ago and I can safely say that the cosmetic industry has evolved to the point of being almost unrecognisable. Every aspect of the profession has changed in some way, from the equipment and products we use to the patients and conditions we treat.
Although free at the point of delivery, the NHS is not a 'free for all' and though treatment is not rationed, it must be rational. Having spent 15 years in the same job, at the sharp end of the NHS, I have seen fancy ideas and initiatives change policy and procedure, trying to trim the cost of the service...
People are not only viewing retouched images in the media, but these days, most cameras in smartphones have built-in filters and effects to enhance photographs. 2014 was the year of the selfie and this has certainly been true for my practice, as I have seen a rise in patients wanting cosmetic procedures and using the selfie to demonstrate what they don't like about their features.
There is a difference between a shapely bottom and a big bum. Back in the day, women used to ask "Does my bum look big in this?" If it did, they would scream and change outfit. Fast forward years later, when the same question is asked, we want the person being asked to respond, "Yes it does, and it looks fabulous darling."
It seems that it is no longer enough to have a facelift or a boob job, or to have some collagen injected in the lips. Vaginal 'rejuvenation' procedures are now popular too. Everything female needs to be reshaped.
lips, cheeks, chin, frozen forehead, the full whammy. She doesn't look soft, fresh-faced, or prettier (as I'm sure was her aim) she just looks like she's had a hell of a lot of work done. Does she look younger than me? Youth doesn't come into it - the 'work' unfortunately eclipses everything.
Renee Zellweger, for me, has always been a woman I thought of as beautiful, but with wholesome 'could-be-a-lady-who-lives-down-the-road' looks rather than the unachievable, intimidating Hollywood look. In the photos that emerged yesterday she is still stunning, she's just different...
Hollywood actress Charlize Theron was quoted recently in Red magazine on her views of ageing. She apparently feels more comfortable with her looks now she's in her late 30s than she did in her 20s, when she had "gorgeous skin and a fat, plump face."
At heart, I strongly believe in the lasting, positive change that my discipline can uniquely deliver on a physical and psychological level to the vast majority of individuals who choose to engage with our expertise.
The risks associated with ordinary liposuction all apply too, plus there's an added risk with Vaser Lipo of second- or third-degree burns, thanks to the use of ultrasound waves to emulsify fat in the deep and superficial layers of the skin (standard liposuction uses other methods of fat cells break-down).
So pervasive is the selfie trend, that it seems that nothing is sacred - not even patients undergoing surgery. Recently, a photograph was posted and spread widely on social media, depicting a surgeon holding a large piece of skin he had removed from a patient's abdomen.