According to the experts, the public’s love affair with cosmetic surgery is far from over

A record number of over 51,000 Britons underwent cosmetic surgery last year, demonstrating that the public’s love affair with surgical enhancement is far from over, despite any previous ‘blips’ as the economy reshaped itself.

Data from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, which is dedicated to safety and education in cosmetic surgery and which represents the vast majority of NHS-trained consultant plastic surgeons in private practice, reveals that the number of cosmetic operations last year grew by 13 per cent overall since 2014 – with all procedures seeing an increase in demand.

Surgeons say that with A-list celebrities – such as Sharon Stone, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kelly Rowland, Jane Fonda and even Modern Family’s young starlet Ariel Winter – openly confessing to the odd nip or tuck, it’s possible that patients are feeling encouraged by their positive admissions and attractive results. These new attitudes could be one of the drivers for increased acceptance and de-stigmatising of aesthetic enhancement, seven out of ten of the most popular procedures seeing a double-digit increase.

Women’s cosmetic surgery rose 12.5 per cent from 2014, and while breast augmentation continues to remain the most popular procedure for women (up 12 per cent from 2014), the oversized ‘glamour model’ or artificial look once associated with implants has all but vanished. Surgeons say that patients are now opting for smaller sizes for a more natural, proportionate enhancement.

The Association also thinks that some of the most dramatic rises – face/neck lifts (up 16 per cent) and liposuction (up 20 per cent) – could be linked to the fact that despite the vast array of non-surgical treatments springing up for these areas in recent years, the public are realising they have limited effect when compared to traditional surgery.

Men, as well, underwent substantially more facial procedures, with face/necklifts climbing 14 per cent, brow lifts (15.5 per cent), eyelid surgery(15 per cent), and rhinoplasty (14 per cent) all gaining huge popularity. Surgeons suggest that possibly, this may be due to the decline of last year’s bushy-bearded, hyper-masculine (or ‘lumbersexual’) aesthetic. The trends could mean that as men ditched the facial hair and oversized checked shirts, they may have uncovered previously-hidden double chins or ‘dad bod’ bellies, fuelling an epic rise of 20 per cent in male liposuction and a 13 per cent jump in ‘man boob’ reductions.

Although men still account for just nine per cent of the total number of cosmetic surgery operations in the UK, their numbers have nearly doubled over the past decade, from 2,440 procedures in 2005 to 4,614 in 2015.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and former BAAPS president Rajiv Grover, who collated the data: “The BAAPS audit has shown that demand for cosmetic surgery continues to increase following the quieter period in 2014 which mirrored the British economy. The double digit rise in surgical procedures suggests that the public are choosing to spend on treatments with a proven track record such as facelifts and liposuction which remain as the gold standard for facial rejuvenation and body contouring.”

It certainly appears both genders seem encouraged by a new openness in glamorous celebrities admitting they have had ‘a little surgical help’ to enhance their looks. There is a danger however that this presents the image of cosmetic surgery as a commodity, so the public must always be warned that an operation is not something that can simply be returned to the shop if you don’t like it.”

Consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS president Michael Cadier adds: “The results of modern aesthetic procedures in the right hands can be subtle, natural-looking and attractive, but what is most important is for patients to remember that surgery is on the whole life-changing and irreversible – far from a trivial ‘status symbol’ beauty treatment. The decision to undergo surgery must be well thought-out, with managed expectations, understanding the risks through fully informed consent and; most importantly; choosing the right specialist provider who is properly trained and accredited.”