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Cosmetic surgery fell by 40% in 2016

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks
plastic surgery preparation

13th February 2017 – The number of cosmetic procedures carried out in the UK fell by 40% in 2016 compared to record-breaking numbers the previous year, new figures show.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) attributes the fall to people seeking stability in an era of global unrest and 'bad news overload'.

Surgeons' say that while cosmetic surgery rates were the lowest in nearly a decade, non-surgical treatment such as facial injectables, including Botox, have continued to rise steadily.

For the first time in almost 10 years of consistent growth, the number of men and women going under the knife for cosmetic surgery dipped below 31,000 – with 2016's figure 5% lower than in 2007.

Brexit and global uncertainty

Consultant plastic surgeon Rajiv Grover, who compiles the audit each year, says the economic downturn may have made people shop around for cheaper options - including non-surgical procedures such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion than more expensive permanent changes in the operating theatre.

Economic uncertainty caused by Brexit and a background of negative news may also be responsible, he believes.

Paul Banwell, a plastic and cosmetic surgeon from West Sussex, says the recession, the 2010 election which saw the transfer of power from Labour to a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and the decision last year to leave the EU are all factors.

He tells us: "I think there's no doubt that over the last few years, we have seen dips in the desire for cosmetic surgery at times of uncertainty, especially with the election and then the referendum and concerns about Brexit. I think that has had a significant effect on everybody's practice."

What's down?

There were 28,341 surgical procedures for women in 2016 – a fall of 39.1% on the previous year, BAAPS figures show. In order of popularity, these were:

  • Breast enlargement: 7,732 – down 20% from the previous year
  • Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty): 3,584 – down 55%
  • Breast Reduction: 3,566 – down 38%
  • Face/ Neck Lift: 3,328 – down 53%
  • Removing unwanted body fat ( liposuction): 2,879 – down 42%
  • Tummy tucks ( abdominoplasty): 2,591 – down 6%
  • Nose reshaping or 'nose jobs' (rhinoplasty): 2,174 – down 14%
  • Fat Transfer: 1,359 – down 56%
  • Ear correction and pinning (otoplasty) 566 – down 9%
  • Forehead lift: 562 – down 71%

There were 2,409 surgical procedures carried out on men in 2016 – a fall of 47.8% on the previous year.

The top surgical procedures for men in 2016 in order of popularity were:

  • Nose reshaping or 'nose jobs' (rhinoplasty): 529 – down 35% from last year
  • Ear correction and pinning (otoplasty) 421 – down 19%
  • Removing unwanted body fat (liposuction): 339 – down 42%
  • Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty): 321 – down 67%
  • Breast Reduction: 320 – down 59%
  • Tummy tucks (abdominoplasty): 172 – up 47%
  • Face/Neck Lift: 125 – down 66%
  • Fat Transfer: 100 – down 61%
  • Forehead lift: 45 – down 72%
  • Breast enlargement: 37 – static

'A more realistic view'

Paul Banwell says the drop in most cosmetic procedures may underline a more realistic view on what they involve.

"Having any sort of cosmetic surgery should not be trivialised, especially because of unregulated areas in non-surgical treatment," he says.

"We have to be quite clear that any form of cosmetic surgery is quite a big deal and we need to make sure that our patients are prepared, educated and that they fully understand the positive aspects as well as the downsides and the potential complications."

Reviewed on February 13, 2017

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