‘It’s transformed the way I feel about myself’

For Katherine Taylor, finally undergoing cosmetic surgery was the best decision she’s made, and it’s transformed the way she feels about herself and who she really is. For her friends, though, it might come as something of a surprise. Here Katherine talks to journalist Lucy Wood about her journey.

“My mum didn’t notice. It’s unbelievable. I am like the non-surgery girl.”

Katherine Taylor, a couple of months shy of her 53rd birthday, laughs as she recounts this. She sat down for catch-up with her mum, Meryl, and it was only after 20 minutes did Katherine ask if Meryl noticed anything different about how she looked.

“Nope,” she says. “Nothing. I said, ‘Mum, I’ve had my face done’ and she replied, ‘No, you have not!’ I had to convince her it was true!”

In fact, Katherine has had the works – a face and neck lift, upper and lower blepharoplasty (eyelids), upper and lower cheek and temple lift with platysma plication (to smooth out what’s known as a ‘turkey’ neck), and liposuction.

“I couldn’t have had any more done!” she jokes. And that the result is so natural is the biggest compliment anyone can pay.

“Nobody’s noticed – apart from just the one person. Either they’re too polite to say or think nothing of it. I mean, I know we’ve had a year of not seeing anybody really, but seriously…!

“People comment on how good I look for my age and say that lockdown has treated me well. I’m thrilled with that.”

It’s been a long time coming. For many years Katherine had non-surgical CACI facelifts, where electrical impulses lift and tone the facial muscles. It worked nicely for a long time, but she’d always had what she describes as ‘baggy’ under-eyes, from since she was a young girl – and she’d never liked it.

“I thought it was something I had to live with,” she says. “Then, I had the idea that when I got to the age of 50, I’d have a facelift. That birthday came and went, and I thought to myself, if I’m going to do it, I need to on more or less of a whim.”

She’d already heard of St Hugh’s Hospital consultant Muhammad Riaz’s signature ‘R’ facelift – a procedure he has created himself – and although she looked at other surgeons, she kept coming back to Mr Riaz.

In February this year she “bit the bullet”, in her own words, and rang to arrange a consultation.

“I didn’t say anything to Mr Riaz about what I wanted,” she explains. “I let him tell me, in his opinion, what he thought I required. There were 15 minutes of silence where he just looked at me. He’s so truthful about what he can achieve, and what patients are to expect. He explained everything thoroughly, including the risks, and there was no doubt in my mind about proceeding. I had complete trust in him from the start.

“It sounds funny but at first I was worried I’d come out of hospital not looking like I’d had anything done. Mr Riaz was, quite rightly, of the opposite opinion. He said, ‘That’s exactly what you want. You need to leave hospital looking like you’ve had nothing done’. Now I’m so happy that people don’t notice!”

Katherine knew she’d have to move quickly, or she’d bottle out – not that she’s nervous of surgery in itself but an instance of a cannula snapping off during a previous operation means she’s understandably apprehensive (“it’s not needles,” she says, “it’s intrusion. I’ve no piercings or tattoos, nothing, because of that incident”).

By the end of the month, she’d undergone the surgery – a gap of less than three weeks. It took about seven hours and she stayed at St Hugh’s for just one night.

“When I came out of theatre, Mr Riaz gasped,” she says. “I saw his face and knew things were good. I asked if he was pleased and he replied, ‘See for yourself – this will be a nice surprise’. I looked like an alien! But I could see a difference immediately. He did what he needed to do.

“I remember waking up with no pain, but because I’d had eyelid surgery, I was frightened to open my eyes. Each time they altered the dressing on my eyes, that was painful – that was the only thing I needed pain relief for.

“There was discomfort and an unusual sensation; I mean, I wasn’t used to my face being so tight. Now I love the fact it feels this way!”

Even now, her friends don’t know she’s had cosmetic surgery – though her cover may be blown if they see this interview. Her partner, Daz, was in on it, of course, and the one person who did notice only guessed because she saw Katherine just two weeks later, with the expected post-surgery bruising. The one friend she confided in was so impressed her first response was, ‘when can I book in?’

A few weeks after that, with a fair bit of resting up and pottering around, and TLC from Daz, there was no trace – just a refreshed appearance and a much happier Katherine.

She and Daz run Lincoln Yurts, a glamping site, and live in Welton, near Lincoln, with two Border Collies, Jess and Jean. They rescue ex-battery hens, and enjoy travelling, too.

Katherine has a healthy lifestyle and is a non-smoker, and her diet is entirely plant-based. The one thing she did cut out in the immediate weeks before surgery and during recovery was wine (“I’m a bit of a badly behaved plant-based person,” she jokes. “Wine is my ‘naughty’.”).

“When you compare the before and after photos, you really can see a difference,” she says. “But when you have nothing to compare it to, and people haven’t seen you for a while, it’s so lovely that they’ve no idea… that they know you look good but can’t quite put their finger on why. Isn’t that an amazing skill, as a surgeon? Just incredible – he’s a genius.

“I cannot speak highly enough of the team at St Hugh’s – everyone from Mr Riaz to the girls who looked after me during the night and the lady who cooked my food… the whole experience was wonderful. It proves you don’t have to go to London to get Harley Street quality.

“And I had no qualms about going into a hospital during the pandemic. I felt so very safe. The staff are stringent with absolutely everything and take so many measures to look after everyone.

“It’s not like I’m not telling people because I’m embarrassed or because I want to pretend that I’m younger. I just take the compliments and if anyone asks, I’ll tell them.

“I’ve done this so I feel the age that I feel I am inside. When I look at myself now, I am the right age on the outside to match what’s inside. That’s the whole reason I did it.”

Cosmetic surgery obviously comes at a financial cost, and Katherine did not shy away from the topic.

“I’m not about ‘oh look at how much I’ve spent on my face’,” she says. “I’m fortunate in that I could afford it, but I tell you now, knowing the results and how it’s made me feel, if I couldn’t have afforded it straight off, I would have saved and saved, and made sure I could. It’d have been a very big priority on my list – that’s how much it means to me.

“I’m the first to admit that in the past I’ve dismissed some cosmetic surgery as being a bit superficial or self-indulgent. But when I started to really think about how the appearance of my face affected me, my opinion changed.

“I used to be so glad that I wore glasses and could hide behind them. I didn’t need them day in, day out, but used to wear them to hide the bags under my eyes. Now I can’t wait to take my glasses off when I go out.

“We are in a society where you can do something to make you feel so much better, so long as it’s right for that individual – what anyone else thinks is irrelevant.

“I look at my reflection now and think, ‘yes, this is how I should look’.

“My eyes are just incredible. I can’t see any trace scarring, even. At one point after the surgery, I couldn’t stop looking and couldn’t believe that person was me. Now I realise how I look now is how it should be – it’s right for me.”

So what’s next on the cards for Katherine? Hopefully a tour of Europe in a campervan with Daz and the dogs during the winter.

But there’s one burning question left unanswered… did she convince her mum she’d had surgery, and what did she think?

“She said, ‘well done, I’m so happy for you. All my life I’ve looked older than I’ve felt. Now you can go into your 50s and 60s with confidence.’ I was like, ‘oh bless you, Mum’. It was so sweet.

“I’m so glad I handed my whole face over to Mr Riaz and the team at St Hugh’s. It’s just the best thing.”

 

We put Katherine in the quick-fire hot-seat to find out a bit more about her…

Tea or coffee? Macha tea, every day – four or five cups.

Best way to relax: I trade in cryptocurrency. I love, love it – a huge interest in digital currency. In fact, trading is how I got the money for the surgery! I love reading about it and it’s definitely my biggest relaxer.

Morning or night person? Night.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where and why? I want to go to the Outer Hebrides.

Describe yourself in three words: Daft, optimistic, loyal.

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