When Hilary Devey decided to have a tummy tuck, she wanted the very best. The self-made businesswoman, and a star of Channel 4's programme The Secret Millionaire, not only did her research thoroughly, but was also in a position to pay the £6,000 it cost to be operated on by a top plastic surgeon in a leading private hospital.
Yet within days of having surgery, she was lying close to death in intensive care having suffered a stroke. Then, just as she began to recover, she developed a severe infection in the stomach wound and the skin around it began to decay.
Four months on, she's still unable to move her left arm properly, while her stomach wound remains an open sore. Facing a lengthy period of recovery, Hilary is anxious to share her story as a warning to others.
But this is not a tale of negligent medical treatment: far from it. Rather, it highlights how patients unwittingly put themselves at risk by viewing cosmetic surgery - indeed, any surgery - as 'minor', and how dangerous it is to ignore the lifestyle advice given before an operation.
As Hilary puts it: 'I thought I'd just pop into hospital, come out a few days later and be back to normal.
'Cosmetic surgery has become such a mainstream operation - it's always on TV and celebrities seem to have it all the time - that I didn't appreciate that it's major surgery.
'Even though I was given the standard warnings about the risks involved with any surgical procedure, I was very blasé about the whole process.
'I treated it as a minor inconvenience and, as a result, I almost died. And if can happen to me, who chose the best possible care, it can happen to anyone.'
'It was only the professionalism and care of the medical teams at both my private and NHS hospitals that saved my life.'
Until now, Hilary, 51, has lived a fortunate and successful life. Having come from a working-class background in Bolton, and been long divorced from her son Mev's father, she single-handedly built up her haulage company, Pall-Ex, from scratch to a £100million business.