Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 12:56 UK

'Liposuction will give me confidence'


Samm was not put off by the operation while Natasha found it 'disgusting'

Two teenage girls desperate to have liposuction in their pursuit of a perfect body have examined their very different reasons for wanting surgery and its risks.

There were more than 34,000 cosmetic surgery operations in the UK last year - and 10% of these were liposuction procedures.

But 25% of teenagers say they would be prepared to spend up to £5,000 on surgery and 3% have already started saving for operations.

One of them was Samm Barton, an 18-year-old business student from north Wales, is 5ft 7in (1.69m) and a size 14, the UK national average.

She was desperate to have the operation on her stomach and hips to help her feel better about her weight.

"I think liposuction could change things for me, because my confidence would build, I'd be more confident in myself to go out and get the career I want."

Her mother Debbie, supported her, as she said Samm had "tried everything".

Samm started misusing food when her mother escaped an abusive relationship, taking her children to a women's refuge.

"My mum was in a violent relationship. I saw her get beaten up.

"And we had to move away... and I couldn't talk to my mum about it because I knew it would upset her, so I stopped eating," Samm said.

Family friend Pauline said: "I think Debbie and Samm have idealised liposuction, and not really thought about the consequences.

"There's never a quick fix is there, otherwise we'd all be doing it."

Samm, Debbie and Pauline joined Natasha Sturt, an 18-year-old trainee hairdresser from West Sussex, and her mother Teresa on a five-day road trip to decide one and for all if liposuction was for them.

Natasha had entirely different reasons for wanting to go from a size 12 to a size 8 - she wanted to be a glamour model.

"At secondary school I used to get called a lot of nasty names about my body and the way I looked.

"It's important for me, to become a glamour model, so those bullies look at me and say, look at her, she's well fit.

Debbie Barton (l), Samm Barton and friend Pauline
Debbie knew that Samm's problems stemmed from her traumatic childhood

"I hate my body - from the shoulders up, I'm fine, I don't mind my face and my hair, it's just my body."

Her mother, Teresa, said she knew that she was not a big girl.

"She wasn't obese, she wasn't big at all, although people did start calling her names," she said.

While on the trip, the girls met a group of seven women who had all lost a lot of weight, and had to guess which ones had lost weight through diet and exercise, and who had used surgery.

One woman, who had lost three stone naturally, but then had a tummy tuck and liposuction, warned the girls off surgery.

"Well it's not the best it could be, because I have a blood clot at the moment, because things have gone wrong," she told them.

"So take this as a warning.

"I had it done abroad, and when I came back to this country, I was bleeding internally.

"I have had four lots of surgery to remove four blood clots, and I have four children, you have to think about the consequences. The last three years I have been in pain constantly."

So they could see how the operation was carried out, the women went into a private operating theatre to witness 33-year-old Naomi Clark going under the knife to go from a size 14 to a 10-12.

Natasha found it gruelling.

"It's just disgusting, I can't even describe it, all that fat coming out and the sucking," she said.

But Samm was not put off.

"I feel like it would give you the kick start, and then you feel happier about yourself and how you look, you'd be more willing to deal with any other problems you had."

Both girls and their mothers visited Mark Anthony, a celebrity fitness trainer.

He uncovered that Samm, a vegetarian, did not eat a balanced diet, but one consisting mainly of cheese dips, cheese, and jacket potatoes, and so he created a strict six-week diet and exercise plan for the pair.

But it was a visit to psychologist Dr Miriam Charalambous that really opened Samm and Natasha's eyes.

For Samm it was a breakthrough, as she realised she needed to deal with her issues around food, and she admitted that liposuction maybe was not the answer.

"What's happened in the past, it needs to be undone, and then I think she'll be able to look forward," Samm's mother Debbie said.

Natasha's visit to the psychologist also highlighted her low self-confidence.

Dr Charalambous said: "For a long time she's had low self-esteem and she's latched on to this idea that if I change my body image everything will be fine again, it's a lot more work than that.

Natasha (l) and Teresa Sturt
Natasha's mother Teresa was against her becoming a glamour model

"So even if she did get the liposuction, even if she did get the breast implants, she would find something else she would be unhappy with."

Both girls were surprised to find themselves on a modelling shoot with plus-size model Nina Blakemore, a size 18.

Nina told them: "I used to be size 8-10 and really really struggled with my weight, but I've worked for 10 years as a plus size model and got more work as an 18 than I ever did as an 8.

"It's the best thing I ever did, and I'm happy, and I can eat, so it's great really."

"Personally I don't agree with liposuction or anything like that."

Her opinion and confidence made a big impression on the girls, who in the end, both decided not to have liposuction.

"I think that Nina's very confident. She seems really happy doesn't she," Natasha realised.

Samm decided to take on a healthy eating plan and fitness regime: "I'm going to go home and look at counselling, and a few years down the line I may need liposuction, but at the moment I'm going to leave it."

Her mother Debbie, was relieved.

"I didn't realise I was going along with what you wanted, and not thinking about what I felt," Debbie said.

Natasha also made a huge turnaround: "Being here has made me change my mind on getting liposuction, and I don't want to get it done ever, and I'm never going to change my mind after what I've seen, and I'm going to go the healthy way.

"And the glamour modelling... well I want to do something like Nina, more elegant."

Nip and Tuck: My Big Decision is on BBC Three at 2100 BST on Thursday 13 August.

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