Cosmetic surgery and cosmetic treatments are more popular than ever, following the increase in take-up after the end of the economic recession. In 2013 the number of people undergoing procedures from eyelid surgery to liposuction exceeded the 50,000 mark for the first time in the UK. Women made up 90% of this number, the highest total ever recorded. More recent statistics have also shown an increase in the number of men turning to cosmetic surgery, many of them seeking a more youthful appearance or one which society deems more ‘attractive’.
Rajiv Grover, consultant plastic surgeon and president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), believes that the statistics for cosmetic surgery provide a reliable economic yardstick for recovery. “Some of these procedures affect young people and others affect much older people,” he explains. “You are getting the whole cross-section of the population and the figures come from across the UK."
Cosmetic surgery certainly seems less of a taboo now. “What we have seen over the last 10 to 15 years is growing acceptance," Mr Grover says. He adds: "That has come from greater exposure in the media, on the internet, and from certain celebrities who have admitted to having had cosmetic surgery and who look reasonable. I don't think we can ever put that genie back in the bottle."
The Guardian newspaper interviewed passers-by to its London office and asked them what their thoughts were on cosmetic surgery. The responses included: “People shouldn’t judge others for wanting to have cosmetic surgery. When people start going, 'Ugh! Why do people want to do this?', I just think, 'Well then, don't do it yourself.'” Another said: “It’s their life. If they want to do it, they can,” and "If they've got the money, they can do whatever they want." “I might have done it if it had been more easily available when I was younger,” said a 70 year-old lady.
In conclusion, many procedures are now easily available and for many, at a realistic price. Recovery times, extent of scarring and anaesthetics have all been improved enough to make surgery seem more compelling to interested parties. Non-surgical procedures, such as Botox, have certainly taken off and there is a school of thought that their popularity will, in turn, continue to make more inventive surgical interventions seem less far-fetched. Perhaps every step of this kind brings non-invasive and then surgical procedures closer to all of us. At the moment though, despite the high profile, if we look at the percentage of people having cosmetic surgery as a total of the UK population, it is still less than 1%.