The woman who fights plastic surgeons

CINDY JACKSON lives at a secret address, under a false name, behind an 'armoured' door and barred windows. She says she has had death threats, her telephone has been tapped and her post tampered with.

Ms Jackson is scared because she has taken on the cosmetic surgery industry. She has reported the threats to the police. 'If I had known what I was taking on I don't know if I'd have done it,' she says. 'But I won't be intimidated.'

She says that since she set up an independent consumer organisation, the Cosmetic Surgery Network, three years ago, she has received an average of 200 telephone calls a week from women wanting support and advice. Nearly 4,000 have documented their experiences.

'I tell patients what really works and what doesn't . . . I tell patients what I wish someone had told me,' she said. ''I'd say that only five or six of the 200 surgeons practising cosmetic surgery in this country know what they are doing.'

Last week the Independent on Sunday revealed that one in four surgeons practising cosmetic surgery had no specialist training in plastic surgery. The industry is self-regulated, with varying results.

Ms Jackson found out the hard way. At 38, she has a Barbie-doll body and a Hollywood face. They cost her pounds 30,000, plus five years of worry, 18 surgical procedures - and a series of mistakes. 'I've been through seven cosmetic surgeons. Some were unqualified. About a third of the operations were unsatisfactory.' She did not sue or demand her money back; 'I just wanted it put right.'

Ms Jackson grew up in the United States, on a farm in Ohio. Her sister and her mother were pretty. 'I was not,' she recalled. 'I saw pretty girls getting what they wanted - the dates, all the attention.

'I always did my homework and got good grades but nothing I achieved rated as highly as simply having a pretty face.'

From the age of 11, she fantasised about the 'perfect' body. 'A lot of little girls do this. They have their Barbie dolls and they act out their dreams through their doll.'

London was the place to go to find her dream body. She could not afford it until she was 31 and inherited a large sum of money from her father. She spent it losing the family resemblance.

Beginning with an operation to have her eyes widened, she went on to have liposuction on her jaw line, abdomen, knees and thighs, followed by a facelift, two chemical peels, silicone breast implants, two nose operations, a temple lift, lower eye revision, permanent upper- lip enlargement, more liposuction - the latest ultrasonic type - on hips, thighs and knees, plus 'minor' procedures.

After the first 14 months of surgery, Ms Jackson appeared in a Sun centrespread, prompting a stream of letters mostly from victims of 'unscrupulous' surgeons, Ms Jackson said.

'One woman called me. She'd had her eye-bags removed. The surgeon had taken out so much fat she had no eyelids left. She looked as though she had been in a fire.'

Few were willing to go back for revision work. Suing is a 'losing battle,' Ms Jackson tells them: negligence can be difficult to prove.

One member of Ms Jackson's network - who asked not to be named - tried. She lost all feeling in her cheeks after an unsuccessful facelift. She has a double chin which was not there before, the skin around her eyes has puckered, and one eye was cut higher than the other. 'I look haggard.'

The operation cost her pounds 4,000 and three years of frustration. She failed, she said, because 'none of the surgeons will criticise each other'.

She says the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons told her the surgeon was 'able and popular.' (The association did not reply to several calls made by the Independent on Sunday.)

She did not bother to fill in the General Medical Council's complaints form: 'I've given up. I just want to get on with

my life.'

Last week the GMC said that of 1,300 complaints received between September 1991 and August 1992, none was about poor surgical procedures.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future