TOWIE star Charlie King has called for more mental health support for people who have cosmetic procedures, as he described going to the “depths of despair” after a nose operation that went wrong.
King, who appeared on The Only Way is Essex, described how his career was “floored” after his plastic surgery did not go as planned. The 36-year-old appeared before MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee to share his experience with body dysmorphia.
He said that he became “obsessed” with his nose during lockdown and booked in for surgery which “went wrong”. Mr King suggested that he might not have had the surgery if there had been better mental health support for people having cosmetic procedures.
He told MPs: “During lockdown and being isolated and being on my own, my obsession turned to my nose because it had been broken 15/20 years ago. I just became obsessed with (thoughts of), ‘It needs to change, I need to fix it, I need to go and see a plastic surgeon.’
“So I did and the surgeon agreed ‘we can improve that’, and with my nature as a person I got the validation that I need to do it [and] I had a nose job that didn’t go to plan.”
Mr King said plastic surgeons should have a duty of care to offer patients mental health resources.
After his surgery did not go to plan he has to wait for a second surgery which has sent him into the “depths of despair”, he said. “I’ve had to move back and live with my mum because I couldn’t earn money, I was depressed, I’m still not myself.”
He added: “There is no way of me getting my money back just yet. If that’s the route I want to go down, it’s going to need legal proceedings and it’s gonna get nasty, which I do not want because my mental health my career has been floored by it.”
Mr King also suggested that schoolchildren should have lessons in how to handle “the pressures of growing up” to prevent mental ill health later in life. He told MPs he was bullied in school and also “struggled with his sexuality for years”.
He said: “I’d spent many years through my teens and 20s with an internal turmoil and a struggle with my own identity, so that was quite challenging.
“As I’ve moved on in my career I can see there needs to be more duty of care, more education around the pressures of growing up, turmoil, trauma, the things that could potentially affect you a little bit later on. If younger people were learning about how to handle that quite early on, they might not get into the positions like where I found myself in in recent years.”
The committee’s own research reported that four in five people who took part in an online poll believed that body image has an impact on mental health.
Asked about Mr King’s experience, mental health minister Gillian Keegan suggested that his cosmetic surgeon may not have been following best practice if they did not consider vulnerabilities and psychological needs.
Asked about the survey, she said: “Poor body image can and will affect most of us at some point in our life. And it is a risk factor for mental health problems.
“Eating disorders in particular is something that we’ve seen a massive increase in demand for, particularly with young people. One of the things that we’ll be focused on doing is trying to expanded services as quickly as we can to meet the needs, because we know we’re not meeting all of the demand.
She added: “As a society we have changed quite a lot in terms of how we talk about mental health, how social media impacts our mental health and what we need to do about that. Being much more open about our mental health [has led to] to an explosion in demand. And we’re really running to try to keep up with that capacity.”