Is Plastic Surgery Now Just Part of Our Society?

Danielle Lowe
By Danielle Lowe

Danielle Lowe is the Marketing Manager for, the UK’s largest aesthetic information website. 

The Business of Cosmetic Surgery.

There is some truth in the statement that cosmetic surgery has become an accepted norm in society. Certainly, more and more people are choosing to go under the knife than say 20 years ago. However in contrast to 20-odd years ago when those who went down the surgery route were the only ones who could truly afford it, there is now a growing number of people who are prepared to borrow money for their surgery or can take advantage of repayment schemes offered by clinics to fund their procedure. 

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of studying this growing trend, highlighted in the recent figures released by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), suggests that despite the uncertain economic times we live in, plastic surgery is still a thriving business. Moreover, these figures are made even more interesting by the fact that some procedures are becoming more popular than others.

However, does this tell us anything about what is truly accepted, and what is largely still frowned upon by modern society? 

What Goes Up, May Come Down!

All trends and fashions not only come and go, but they also evolve into other norms and fairly routine practices. For example, the number of men opting to go under the knife is on the increase accounting for little more than roughly 10% of all procedures in 2011, with one of the most common forms of male plastic surgery undertaken for treating gynaecomastia, otherwise known as male breast reduction.  It's interesting to think about how many men suffered in silence with this condition before it became the norm to 'fix' it however it is worth noting that this increase has been complimented by an increase in men undergoing operations to treat pseudo-gynaecomastia, which could be treated equally as effectively with diet and exercise rather than resorting to going under the knife. Parallels can even be drawn between this procedure which is only just starting to become a routine practice in society’s eyes and female breast reduction which has been giving relief to women who have struggled with their breasts for years whilst being an acceptable procedure with little stigma attached.

However, according to the BAAPS figures it's still mostly women who elect to have cosmetic surgery and the ever-increasingly popular breast augmentation procedure has seen a slow (but steady) rise in the number of operations on everything from boosting the bust to altering some previous work. Fat transfers are also on the increase and these are pretty much equal in popularity among the sexes along with tummy tucks. These post-weight loss surgeries seem to be more easily accepted forms of plastic surgery in society’s eyes, as it seems many people can more readily empathise with another's unease about excess skin which could prove uncomfortable or embarrassing to live with.

Luxury or Necessity, Only you can truly Decide.

As the price of cosmetic surgery reduces due to it becoming a much more price-competitive market then it as a result becomes more accessible to a wider spectrum of society which is a trend that will seemingly only increase as the market develops year on year. So although the BAAPS 2011 figures do present some surprising incites into the UK’s mindset when it comes to cosmetic surgery, these increases are most probably the result of procedures becoming more accessible to more of society who were ready to accept it as a part of their life but previously couldn’t afford to rather than the result of a major societal shift.

We must also take into account the fact that the general public is bombarded on a daily basis from all angles of traditional and social media by celebrities telling their cosmetic surgery stories (whether positive or negative) and TV reality shows tearing down the clinic doors and letting the general public take a rye glance into a world previously unseen. By pulling away the curtain surrounding the industry it will inevitably contribute to the subject creeping into society’s consciousness whether society likes it or not.

It's obviously important for patients to consider their options clearly and carefully before choosing to go down this route of undergoing surgery or not.

However, if the prospective patient comes to the decision that surgery will provide them with relief, new-found confidence or comfort in their skin and the financial side of this commitment won’t leave them facing the next few years with the prospect of struggling financially from month to month then what’s stopping them?

It is only important that patients realise that whether the operation they are considering undergoing is a luxury or a necessity is one that only they can decide.

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