The Guardian, 1st February,2012

Seeing your figure finally look the way you want it to is incredible. As more and more women toy with the idea of cosmetic procedures, Clare Marfleet talks about the rationale behind her own decision.

Clare Marfleet, 33, from London, is medical manager at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, a centre specialising in non-invasive and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures.

My background is in nursing, but I left the NHS eight years ago to work in a private-laser treatment clinic. It shaped my view of cosmetic medicine. I got to know the practitioners, and how skilled they were. I also witnessed the fantastic results clients and colleagues were getting.

The first treatment I had, six years ago, was laser hair removal. I was fed up with constantly shaving and skin irritation, particularly around my bikini line. I wasn’t earning a great deal, so the treatment was relatively expensive, but 10 years of waxing would probably amount to the the same.

Since the treatment, I’ve shaved once every six months and any hair re-growth is very fine. It gave me a big confidence boost and saved lots of time.

The experience was so positive that I had photo rejuvenation two years later. Having suffered from mild acne and sun damage, I’ve never had the best skin, and the treatment is really good for evening-out skin tone. I was thrilled with the result.

Since joining the clinic as medical manager three years ago, I’ve had further procedures including pixel treatment,which improves complexion, skin texture and tone, acne scars and wrinkles, and dermal filler around my top lip. I wasn’t worried about having an injection because I’ve never seen an adverse reaction and the hyaluronic acid injected is produced naturally in the body, gradually breaking down over time. The biggest procedure I’ve had is vaser lipo, a fat removal treatment. Pot bellies are a family trait and I always hated mine. No diet or exercise plan ever made a difference and it affected my body confidence and wardrobe choices. I’d never wear a bikini, or low-rise jeans, and if I wore a tight-fitting dress I’d put unattractive, support pants underneath.

I gave the treatment plenty of thought, and discussed it with my partner, Adrian, who was completely supportive. I have faith in the doctors I work with and procedures like vaser lipo don’t carry the same inherent risks as invasive cosmetic surgery under general anaesthesia.

In early 2009 I had the treatment under local anaesthetic. It took 90 minutes to break down the areas of fat around my abdomen, using a probe inserted through small incisions in my abdomen.

Apart from feeling some pushing and pulling, it wasn’t painful. They actually showed me the fatty deposits they’d removed, using gentle suction.

I only needed two days off work to recover and as the treatment leaves the collagen matrix of the skin intact, healing is fast. I did have some swelling and bruising, but the results were apparent within days; for the first time, my stomach was flatter. Looking in the mirror and seeing your figure finally look the way you want it to is incredible. I’ve since been on holiday to Crete with my girlfriends and wore a bikini on the beach for the first time. The Bridget Jones pants are history and my confidence has sky-rocketed.

Like me, the vast majority of women who come to the clinic want to make the most of their looks, rather than making huge changes. It’s an extension of the beauty salon and I regard the treatments I’ve had as maintenace. Unlike invasive surgery, you don’t spend thousands of pounds or take weeks off work.

Images of Leslie Ash and Pete Burns are extreme examples of cosmetic treatments gone wrong. I would never put myself at risk and most women I know and work with would only have cosmetic treatment after being properly consulted. It should always be an informed choice.

New technologies, with results as good as surgery, mean there is less reason than ever to go under the knife. As treatments become popular, prices get competitive, so they are becoming more accessible too. Our clinic has experienced a marked increase in demand and we’re expanding as a result.

Like most women, I worry about ageing and the industry I work in does compound that fear. I don’t relish the thought of sagging skin, but I’m happy to look my age. I don’t have cosmetic treatments because I want people to think I’m 10 years younger; I have them because I want to look, and feel, good.

*All images, videos and testimonials are based on the personal experiences of our patients and represent individual body shapes and results. Results may vary from person to person. All testimonials are provided voluntarily by our patients and clients and all photos and videos have been consented to and have not been altered in any way.

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