Drop the knife: less Britons have cosmetic surgery

Fiona Clark

Britons are shunning the knife for cosmetic reasons with the number of plastic surgery operations performed dropping to its lowest in nearly a decade, according to new data from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).

An audit done by the association shows that the number of cosmetic operations performed in 2016 was down almost 40% on 2015.

“For the first time in almost a decade of relatively consistent growth, cosmetic surgical procedure totals for women and men combined dipped below 31,000,” the association’s press release said.

Consultant plastic surgeon and former BAAPS President Rajiv Grover, who compiled the audit, said Brexit and economic uncertainty were among the reasons for the dip in numbers, adding that there was anecdotal evidence that consumers were swapping the scalpel for Botox, fillers and other non-invasive procedures like to try and turn back the clock.


“In a climate of global fragility, the public are less likely to spend on significant alterations and become more fiscally conservative, by and large opting for less costly non-surgical procedures such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion, rather than committing to more permanent changes,” he said.

Doctors who perform non-surgical aesthetic procedures said there was a general trend toward ‘tweakments’ rather than noticeable changes.

Dr Shirin Lakhani, from Elite Aesthetics in Kent, told Harley Street Emporium that the trend is for non-surgical walk-in, walk-out treatments which offer subtle, natural looking results.

“Patients do not want the risks and down time associated with surgery when there are safe, effective alternatives which, in most cases, are more cost effective,” she said.

Harley Street plastic surgeon, Mr Naveen Cavale agreed that he’s seen a change recently in what consumers want.

“Patients don’t want anything major or extreme – they just want to fit in,” he said.


Dr Lahkani’s top trending tips for this year include non-surgical eyelifts and chemical peels while Dr Nick Lowe, consultant dermatologist from the Cranley Clinic on Harley Street, said Botox and fillers will continue to gain popularity along with body sculpting procedures.


SNAP SHOT: What the figures show

In total there were 30,750 procedures performed (28,341 on women and 2,409 on men). This was 39.9% less than  in 2015.

Procedures that saw the biggest drop were:

Browlifts: down 71% to 607

Fat transfers: down 56% to 1,459

Face/Neck Lift: down 53% to 3,453