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Cosmetic surgery falls to a 10-year low as specialists blame Brexit and the uncertain economic climate

Posted: 13/02/2017

According to data from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the number of cosmetic operations performed last year fell 40% to a near-decade low from a record-breaking high in 2015. Anecdotally, non-surgical treatment, such as facial injectables, has remained on a steady rise.

For the first time in almost a decade of relatively consistent growth, cosmetic surgery procedure totals for women and men combined dipped below 31,000 - with 2016's figures 5% less than those in 2007. Former BAAPS president Rajiv Grover, who wrote the report, said uncertainty surrounding terrorism, Brexit and the economy meant people were opting for cheaper, quick-fix chemical peels and fillers, rather than investing in more expensive surgery.

Plastic surgeon Simon Withey, the current president of BAAPS, believes that tough economic conditions are making people who may have perhaps been eager to undergo treatment in the past think harder about cosmetic operations. “At the very least, patients seem to be getting the message that cosmetic surgery is not a ‘quick fix’ but a serious commitment,” he said.

The top surgical procedure for women was breast augmentation which accounted for 7,732 - down 20% from last year and the top operation for men was rhinoplasty, accounting for 529 procedures in total - down 35% from 2015. Abdominoplasty surgery remained popular for both genders, increasing to 6th place in 2016 from 8th place in 2015. The number of men having abdominoplasty - or tummy tucks - was up 47% with 172 procedures carried out. The biggest fall was in the number of browlifts - with a drop of 71% in the number of men and women having the procedure. The full figures can be found on the BAAPS website here.

Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: “In a climate of global fragility, the figures from BAAPS suggest that patients are prioritising stability over big life changes, which can only be a good thing. However, it would seem that the number of non-surgical procedures, such as dermal fillers and chemical peels, remains steadily on the rise, so it is important to reinforce the message that non-surgical does not mean non-medical. The non-surgical industry is poorly regulated and littered with ‘cowboy’ operators so those considering a cosmetic procedure must remain vigilant.”

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