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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March 2005, 23:56 GMT
Plastic surgery 'saved my life'
Vanessa Bryant
Ms Bryant says it is remarkable what plastic surgeons can do
Plastic surgeons say the public and media obsession with cosmetic surgery is trivialising the real work they do.

One woman speaks about what plastic surgery meant for her.

Vanessa Bryant thought she had beaten the malignant tumour she was diagnosed with in 1990 after having surgery.

But within two years it came back.

As well as undergoing chemotherapy, the mother-of-three, now 49, also had to have radical surgery which involved the removal of most of her jaw and floor of her mouth, leaving her disfigured.

"Having to go back and forth to hospital for all that treatment is bad enough, but my situation was made worse by the fact that my appearance had changed. That is hard to deal with."

But thanks to a team of plastic surgeons from St George's Hospital in south London, she was able to have her face rebuilt.

The doctors carried out a series of operations to take bone from her hip and muscle from her back to give her a new jaw.

They [plastic surgeons] save people's lives, they certainly saved mine
Vanessa Bryant

Ms Bryant, from south west London, said: "It is truly remarkable what they achieved. I can breathe, eat, speak and even sing.

"The disfigurement to my jaw has been reduced through surgery to the extent where I can now walk down the street without being continually stared at - something for which I am truly grateful."

The whole experience had such a profound affect on Ms Bryant, who lost her husband to lung cancer in 1998, that it made her reassess what she wanted to do with her life.

After recovering from the operations, Ms Bryant decided not to go back to her job as a secretary and started studying instead.

She took a degree in psychology at University College London and is now training to be a clinical psychologist in the NHS.

"I finish in September and then just have to get a job.

"I decided to make a change because it was an area I had always been interested in. "It's not that being a secretary is not a good job, but just that I realised I wanted a change. You have to make the most of life."

But Ms Bryant said she found the change in attitude towards plastic surgery frustrating.

"The constant bombardment of information about cosmetic surgery on television and in newspapers makes me angry.

"People do no realise what plastic surgery is all about, they just know about cosmetic surgery.

"But plastic surgeons also carry out operations on all sorts of people who have been disfigured through illness or injury.

"This is often forgotten. It shouldn't be. They save people's lives, they certainly saved mine."

Cosmetic ops 'require research'
28 Jan 05 |  Health

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