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Linda Briggs in the Daily Mirror


Written by Anethea Gerrie    Picture by Alban Donohoe
Linda in the MIRROR - November 17th 2000

Linda Briggs

ervous but excited about the prospect of a new, younger look,  Linda  let the nurse prepare her for the facelift operation.

She might have run out of the room if she’d known more about the man wielding the scalpel.

Unbeknown to Linda, thousands of women had complained about botched operations by the very same surgeon.

As it turned out, Linda’s facelift was a success. She says: “Perhaps it was because he knew I was writing about it for a magazine, that I got a good one.”

But consumed by guilt for publicising a doctor whose competence turned out to be suspect - and who is now under investigation - Linda resolved to set up a web site to try to steer other women towards a safer pair of hands.

She had another purpose in launching “to provide first hand information about cosmetic surgery, which is almost impossible to find.”

Linda’s site is currently a grass roots set-up and her services are free. But as a former patient, she is a mine of useful facts - such as how quickly you can go out shopping after a nose job without looking like an accident victim and how much pain is involved in getting your eyelids tightened.

Linda believes she can even save women money by telling them when they can get away with less radical procedures than the facelift they imagine they need.
But she found official opposition to her aim of providing impartial advice - which she dispenses in person rather than online. “When I tried putting up links on my site to the British Associations of Plastic Surgeons and Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, I was told to remove them immediately. ”Yet that would have listed all the Board’s certified doctors practicing in Britain.”

Instead she uses her web site as an information site about products and peripherals, as well as an introduction to her off line consultations in London and Norwich. Here, along with advice, she offers referrals to a handful of surgeons she has personally vetted.

Linda Briggs in the Daily Mirror

“I am not available for automatic hire, however,” insists the 46-year-old Legal Executive who has maintained her day job conveyancing, to allow her to keep her independence and run a site that is a passion rather than a profit centre.

"Although I would have made good money, I have turned down the chance to promote doctors who I’m not sure about.”  “The point is that no one should be exposed, as I was, because they didn’t know there are charlatans out there.”

One woman who found the site a godsend is 43-year-old Annette. Annette says she was desperate for a face-lift because people assumed she was a grandmother rather than the mother of her young second family - Shannon, five and 18 month old Alisha.

Annette says; “I’ve looked older than I was for a long time, with deep jowls and bags under my eyes.”

Surfing the web for first hand information earlier this year, Annette found only one source - Linda’s site; “I had been so dissatisfied with the answers I was getting from doctors I interviewed.”

“They refused to provide patient testimonials and I felt their estimates of recovery time seemed impossibly optimistic. I thought it well worth paying Linda £35 for a consultation in Norwich, not far from my home, that told me what I could really expect.” Cautious Annette did not accept Linda’s first choice of surgeon; “you’ve got to feel comfortable and I had already been checking doctors out for several months.” “But I chose the 2nd, who last month performed a mini-facelift and removed eye bags and wrinkles on my top lip. I’m delighted with the result.”

There are some good general information sites dealing with cosmetic surgery, such as The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons   And there are the blatantly commercial sites touting for business.

Don’t discount individual doctors as a source of good, free information. Plastic surgeon Patrick Hudston’s site tackles important peripherals issues - such as anxiety and the problem of family not being supportive after the op - in a series of concise, free, on line articles.

Some American sites even show the operations which, tacky as these are in concept, do give an indication of the grisly going over patients may be letting themselves in for.

While contents itself with broadcasting the facelift of American daytime soap star Christopher Templeton, shows a whole gamut of gory goings on in the OR - from brain surgery to breast cancer ops, hernia repairs to thyroid removals.

By contrast, is a model of low-tech restraint, restricting itself to offering information on products such as Botox - used in beautifying procedures - and cosmetic surgery insurance, which Linda says few women know about. “For example, most think they would have to fund the removal of troublesome breast implants themselves. But coverage is available, even if the operation was done abroad.”

It would be an invaluable service to women seeking surgery if organisation such as The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons did encourage links to the site. Without a doubt, the best guide to getting a decent op is still certification by the appropriate boards, who maintain rigorous standards.

Meanwhile, it’s wise to follow Annette’s advice and use online services as an introductory guide, interviewing doctors yourself and trying to obtain testimonials - for which word of mouth is probably the only reliable root.


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