How I went from flabby to fab at 50 with Britain's first 6,000 bum lift

Surely it's every woman's dream - to regain the pert bottom of her youth. That was the goal for pop star Toyah Willcox who, at 50, has become the first person in Britain to have an injectable bottom lift - cosmetic surgery that claims to give definition to the buttocks. Toyah lives with musician husband Robert Fripp, 62. Here, SADIE NICHOLAS asks her if the 6,000 procedure was money well spent - or a bum deal ...

To say that I am pro-cosmetic surgery is perhaps too strong. Yes, I had a facelift five years ago and I've been quite open about my desire to have a tummy tuck - at my age my skin's losing its elasticity, so I believe more nips and tucks are inevitable. 

But the reason I have cosmetic surgery is because I love my career. Having work done on your face and body goes hand in hand with showbusiness, because you have to ensure you look good for your age.

I accept that fact and don't resent it, it's just part of the job. In this business, most people have had something done, even though many don't like to admit to it.

Despite being the same weight and size, a ten, that I was in my 20s, my shape's changed as I've reached my 50s.

During the past two years I've noticed that my bottom has begun to sag, developing a telltale crease and losing definition where it meets the tops of my legs.

Of course, it can be disguised with clever support knickers, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm not happy with the shape. I don't go to the gym, but I do lots of hill-walking in the Worcestershire countryside and I'm fit and active.

But, no matter what, time and gravity still have an effect on even the slimmest, fittest of women. So, when I heard a new laser treatment was being launched in the UK, which claims to tighten and tone the skin and is described as the surgical equivalent to doing hours and hours of exercises in the gym, I began researching it on the internet in earnest.

I learned that the procedure called VASER (vibration amplification of sound energy at resonance) Hi Def is suitable for use on the stomach, chest, bottom and upper thighs and, amazingly, takes less than two hours to perform under local anaesthetic and just a few days to recover.

And it's a considerable advance from the more traditional nip-and-tuck treatments for a saggy bottom such as the rather barbaric bottom implants - where silicone pouches rather like those used in boob jobs are inserted into your buttocks - and the old-style liposuction, which involved inserting a long, thick rod into the fatty areas and sucking stuff out with quite considerable force.

On TV I saw women who were black and blue after liposuction and couldn't sit down for weeks. So I was relieved and enthused to read that VASER Hi Def involves inserting a fine ultrasound probe - a titanium rod about two to three millimetres thick - into the fatty areas of the stomach, chest or buttocks under local anaesthetic.

The ultrasound waves emitted from the probe liquefy the fat and an equally tiny suction tube is then inserted and used to suck out as much of the fat as possible. Any liquefied fat that doesn't get sucked out will be excreted with normal bodily waste.
Apparently this process allows a surgeon to sculpt the specially selected areas, almost carving fat away from around the key muscle groups to create a highly defined physical shape.

The tiny probe allows him to be very precise about exactly where he removes the fat from, which is how he can create such definition and why this treatment differs so much from other methods of liposuction.

Of course, if you believe the blurb, it all sounds wonderful, but I know that if you're going to enter into cosmetic surgery then you need to do your homework, researching the treatment and the surgeon until you're absolutely certain of the merits of both.

Hours of internet searching revealed that VASER Hi Def is already a hit in the U.S. and manufacturers and practitioners claim it yields astonishing results. I was convinced enough to arrange a consultation with Dr Mike Comins at The Hans Place Practice in Knightsbridge before Christmas.

He is the only doctor to offer the treatment in the UK, and only the second in Europe. Here's what happened next ...

DECEMBER 18, 2008
I arrive at the Hans Place Practice feeling excited about meeting the man who may be able to reverse the signs of ageing on my bottom.

Dr Comins inspects my derriere and tells me I already have amazing muscular strength for someone who doesn't go to the gym. He also says that I'm the perfect patient for VASER Hi Def treatment.

It should be performed only on those who are fit and healthy but seeking more definition, and not on those looking to it as a quick-fix means of shedding lots of weight or inches, although it is suitable for those with smaller, stubborn areas of fat resistant to weight loss.

Dr Comins explains the procedure exactly as I read about it on the internet - and also says he would recommend injecting a thick synthetic gel filler called Macrolane - a similar version has long been used to fill facial lines - into my upper buttocks, which he would then manipulate with his fingers to restore shape and volume.

I have endless questions for Dr Comins, such as how much the procedure might hurt, what pain relief I'll be given, whether the gel can change shape due to sitting too much (he assures me it won't), and if my bum will end up looking bigger, or just more shapely. It's already big enough.

He gives reassuring answers to all of my questions and tells me the whole operation will take between one and two hours. Although I'll be able to leave the clinic straight away afterwards, he warns that I'll be sore for the first two days.

Pain frightens me, but I remind myself that he's a man and they have a much lower pain threshold than women.

The procedure will cost around 6,000, but it will be a small price to pay to get my old bottom back. I can barely contain my enthusiasm and book to have the procedure done on January 15, also booking four days off work, just in case he's right about the soreness.

JANUARY 14, 2009
With less than 24 hours to go until I return to have my wondrous bottom surgery, the nerves kick in. In fact, I'm more anxious than I was before I had my facelift five years ago.

Why? Well, I've never been in favour of liposuction - which the VASER treatment is - in any form as it always looks so brutal when you see it on TV.

I'm also a little worried about how much pain I might be in afterwards, even though I'm not squeamish. And I'm concerned that in opting for the injections to 'shape' my bottom, it may end up with too much volume and look bigger than when I started. A big bum is not what I'm after.

I have a terrible night's sleep, with fears whirring through my mind. My husband, Robert, isn't overly keen on the idea of cosmetic surgery because he already thinks I look good.
But he knows he won't stop me from having it done, so opts to be fantastically supportive instead.

In a bid to minimise any bruising, I've been using herbal arnica cream on my bottom and taking arnica tablets for the past week, as they are both recommended to reduce bruising.

I did the same before my facelift and had very little bruising compared to most patients.

JANUARY 15
I've always been known for being outspoken and flamboyant. But I have my vulnerable moments, too, and right now, as Robert and I arrive at the clinic first thing in the morning, that's how I feel.

I don't take surgery lightly. I'm nervous and I need Robert with me. The clinic is white, clean and very unlike a hospital as it's so comfortable and friendly. A
fter signing the pre-operative paperwork, I strip to my underwear and Dr Comins marks the areas of my upper thighs and bottom that he will work on.

He's going to make tiny incisions on my lower buttocks into which the probe will be inserted and from where he can work on melting the fat in my upper thighs and lower bottom.

This will give more definition to the shape by removing fat from around the muscles.

Then he'll finish by injecting the filler into the top of my buttocks to make my bottom more pert.

I'm taken into theatre where my bottom and thighs are sterilised with an iodine solution as I lay face down on the operating table. The anaesthetist gives me a sedative to relax me.

Then Dr Comins injects local anaesthetic into the areas he is going to treat, including a spot in the centre of my lower back, immediately above my buttocks.

He advises that the following day I should expect to see lots of fluid oozing from this entry point as the anaesthetic makes its way out of my body. As the sedative takes effect, I drift off to sleep and the next thing I know it's an hour later and the procedure is complete.

Apparently, I woke up at various points during the operation, but I don't remember any of it.

There are two tiny incisions on each buttock where the VASER wand was inserted. Dr Comins has put dressings on them and a pad over the spot where the anaesthetic was injected to absorb any liquid that seeps out - and lots does for the next 24 hours.

I'm also fitted with a corset which will compress the area and help prevent any little lumps forming as it heals. I have to wear it for two weeks round the clock and for a further two weeks either during the day or at night.

As I have a drink in the recovery room, Dr Comins gives me a five-day course of antibiotics to guard against infection, plus strong painkillers.

Just an hour after the procedure is completed, Robert and I bid farewell to the clinic and head home.

On the basis of this 100-mile, two-and-a-half hour journey, I would advise anyone having this procedure not to spend long in a car immediately afterwards.

I am sitting down, although leaning to one side to rest more on my hip than my bottom cheek and I feel every single bump and dip in the road: it's excruciating.

But as soon as we are back at home, the pain subsides. In bed at night it's impossible to sleep on my back as my bottom feels so sore. So, I adopt the recovery position and refrain from sitting down - perching instead on my knees or leaning on my side - over the next five days.

There's a tiny bit of swelling but nothing too much and I just wear comfortable clothes over the support corset.

JANUARY 17
I'm astonished to wake up and find I'm hardly sore at all. Neither does my bottom appear swollen. Robert has been astounding throughout and changes the dressing on the anaesthetic entry point on my back, which is wet with leaked liquid.
We both inspect the results of my surgery in the mirror. He says my bottom looks fantastic and wonders whether he should have the same treatment on his stomach.

I tell him he doesn't need to as I really don't think physical appearance has the same importance for men as it does for women.

For women, I believe body shape and sexuality are intrinsic to our power, particularly at work.

Looking at my bottom in the mirror, I'm over the moon. It's like looking at my bum and thighs as they were 30 years ago.

By melting away fat in all the right places at the tops and sides of my thighs, he's cleverly reshaped them so that they run a smooth line to my hips with no lumps or bumps in between, giving the illusion of them being elongated, too.

He's very subtly given my bottom some shape, which has the effect of making it look lifted and more pert without adding to its size. And my hips, which used to sit square to my waist, now look fabulous. I'm thrilled.

JANUARY 19
Last night I slept on my back for the first time and today I don't feel any soreness. There isn't even any hint of bruising.

A friend emails me to say that she's desperate to book herself in for the same treatment having heard how pleased I am, but that her husband is totally against it.

Men can be very funny about cosmetic surgery.

FEBRUARY 2
It's now over two weeks since the surgery and finally I can remove the corset. The little incisions have completely healed and I'm ecstatically happy with my new bottom.

I'm still a size ten, but my bottom looks better both in the buff and under my clothes. It's leaner and more shapely.

Thankfully it doesn't look bigger, as I had feared it might, just altogether more pert, as it was in my youth.

In April, I'll return for a check-up with Dr Comins. He says the results of the surgery should last for three to four years, at which point I'll have a top-up procedure.

I've spoken to him on the phone since my surgery about having a similar treatment on my stomach before I go on tour in September, too.

And, yes, I will consider going under the knife again after that, but for now I'm just happy to have my old bottom back again.

Daily Mail
February 2009