Katie Piper is a presenter and the founder of The Katie Piper Foundation. In 2008, she was the victim of a rape and acid attack that left her with severe burns & scars.
Katie spent seven weeks in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, before starting a two year stint, where she wore a special plastic pressure mask for 23 hours of every day. Prior to the attack, Katie was a model and budding TV presenter, with a hectic social life and a glowing future in the public eye. The attack ruined Katie from the inside out. Like many, she believed her life was over now that she was a ‘burns victim’.
Following pioneering surgery led by Mr Mohammad Jawad FRCS, Katie was referred to Centre Ster in Lamalou-les-Bains; a specialist rehabilitation centre in France. This centre had a remarkable impact on her recovery, both mentally and physically. It was here, whilst interacting with other burns survivors, that she made the most progress in regaining control of her life.
“With the right support and access to rehabilitation you can live a fulfilling and happy life with burns & scars.”
Katie also began researching support for burns survivors and she was introduced to other effective non-surgical treatments such as laser, camouflage make-up, and medical tattooing.
Katie has undergone extensive reconstructive surgery and she’s come a long way. Relying heavily on family and friends, and thanks to the outstanding treatment she received in France, alongside her own incredible determination, she no longer feels that her burns define her.
“I’m happy with who I am and I’ve learnt it’s OK to live with disfigurement, and that scars don’t mean I am unattractive.”
In May 2009 Katie made the decision to give up her anonymity and share her story in a remarkable film for the Cutting Edge strand on Channel 4 called ‘Katie: My Beautiful Face’. The programme, supported by a huge press campaign, first aired in November 2009 to critical acclaim as well as receiving a Broadcast Award in February 2011. Katie went on to front a four part series for Channel 4 ‘Katie: My Beautiful Friends’ in 2011 followed by ‘Katie: The Science of Seeing’ in which she underwent stem cell treatment in her left eye and has now remarkably regained her sight. Katie has also recently been seen in ‘The Secret Millions’ where she was sent into prison for the first time to help the charity Acumen and she also ran the beauty salon on Channel 4’s big series, ‘Hotel GB’.
Katie is also a patron of Northumbria Healthcare and later this year is travelling with the trust to Tanzania in order to set up a dedicated burns unit.
Katie’s autobiography was published in 2011 and has so far sold over 113,000 copies in the UK. Her book has been published in Asia, America, Australia and around Europe, reaching number 1 on the Bestsellers Top 10 for Non-fiction Hardback. Her second book, a self-help book titled ‘Things Get Better’ was published last year, and her latest publication ‘Start Your Day With Katie’, a book of affirmations, was published in September and has regularly been in the top 10 chart since publication..
The outstanding treatment and physiotherapy Katie received as an inpatient at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in the UK was extremely important for her road to recovery. However, once she was discharged she left a lot of support behind her, just when fighting the scars became most difficult.
Katie spent five three-week blocks in a specialist scar treatment clinic, Centre Ster, in France. She feels that the non-surgical treatment she received there was a critical contributor to her recovery. With time, her scars became soft, supple and pale. Her skin grew more flexible and her face began to feel like her own again. Gradually her self-confidence and belief started to come back, as she learnt to accept that her burns didn’t have to define her.
Katie received a combination of simple, cost-efficient treatments proven to be most effective in improving the appearance of burns and scars. These included intensive deep tissue massage, one-to-one specially adapted physiotherapy, Endermology (where specialist machines work at softening the skin and making it more malleable), hydrotherapy, high pressure jet therapy, and silicone treatments, alongside the wearing of pressure garments.
Another important part of the rehabilitation for Katie, was being in a supportive environment with people going through a similar experience. This was instrumental in showing her that she could beat her scars and it taught her to believe that she could stop them from cocooning her. The structure of a daily routine also meant she had a reason to get up in the morning when she felt least capable, which really helped her regain control of her life.
Being fortunate enough to have the support of extended rehab and scar management – not only for the physical scarring, but the mental and emotional challenges of this trauma too – made Katie realise she could do more to support other burns survivors in their recovery process.