The UK’s Top 10 most Popular Cosmetic Surgery Procedures

2 April 2014

The UK’s Top 10 most Popular Cosmetic Surgery Procedures

Demand for cosmetic surgery is booming once more as Britons seek to put the financial crisis behind them and look to the future.

In data compiled by legal healthcare and medical negligence experts, we look at the industry in numbers and the UKs growing obsession with cosmetic surgery.

Plastic surgeons carried out more than 50,000 procedures in a year for the first time in 2013, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).

The number of people opting for surgical procedures to enhance their looks was up almost 17 per cent compared with 2012, the biggest rise since 2008.

Liposuction led the way with a 41 per cent surge in demand but not a single procedure saw its popularity sag.

In total there were 50,122 procedures in 2013, 90.5 per cent on women and 9.5 per cent on men.

Here, we look in detail at the top ten most popular procedures:

10. Otoplasty (ear reshaping) - 1,213 (up 14 per cent)

Surgery involves remodelling the cartilage in the ears to create a less protruding shape.

Otoplasty involves pinning back the ears by remodelling cartilage to create missing folds and ensure the ear if fixed closer to the head.

Around one in 100 people think their ears stick out too much, according to the NHS Choices website.

The problem does not usually affect hearing but may cause embarrassment and can lead to teasing or bullying, especially in children.

The operation usually takes one to two hours and can be performed under local or general anaesthetic.

Patients can usually go home quickly but may have to wait six weeks before they can do activities such as contact sports or swimming.

Common side-effects include soreness, swelling and bruising around the ears and scarring that should fade with time.

More serious complications are unusual but can include infection, red or lumpy scars or ears that do not look identical and require further surgery.

9.Browlift - 2,138 (up 17 per cent)

This procedure is used for similar reasons to a full face or neck lift (see above) but targets wrinkles and sagging skin in the brow area only.

Having a strong bone structure and elastic skin helps to improve the results.

As with other face lifts, spending a lot of time in the sun and smoking are likely to reduce the improvement achieved by surgery in the long-term.

Alternative forms of treatment for wrinkles such as dermal fillers, laser facial resurfacing and Botox injections may be more suitable for some patients.

As always, it is sensible to discuss the options with your GP.

8.  Fat Transfer - 3,302 (up 14.5 per cent)

Fat transfer involves taking fat from the abdomen, hips, thighs or buttocks and moving it to an area such as the face, breast or buttocks.

It is typically used to restore lost volume, correct facial scars, increase breast cup size or even up lopsided breasts.

It can be used as an alternative to breast and buttock implants and the results could be permanent, whereas implants normally need replacing later in life.

The results of fat transfer to the face can also last longer than that achieved with dermal fillers.

The procedure can be done under local anaesthetic but usually results in swelling and bruising for a week or so.

7. Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) - 3,466 (up 16 per cent)

Tummy tucks are performed to remove excess fat and skin from the tummy and tighten the abdominal muscles.

The operation is typically used for patients with folds of skin left behind after losing weight or to help remove or reduce stretch marks in women after pregnancy.

Surgery may take up to three hours and is usually performed under general anaesthetic.

Several different techniques can be used and in some cases the belly button will be removed and repositioned.

Patients can have to remain in hospital for up to three days after surgery and might need to wear an elasticated garment for comfort for several weeks.

A full recovery may take around six weeks, although it should be possible to return to work after three or four weeks.

Possible side-effects include pain and bruising for a few days, swelling for several months and scarring that will fade but never disappear entirely.

Complications that could occur include infection needing antibiotics, bleeding under the skin and fluid collecting around the wound that requires removal with a needle.

6. Liposuction - 4,326 (up 41 per cent)

The battle with the bulge being fought by millions of Britons means it is little surprise that liposuction saw the biggest rise last year.

Those who have tried and failed to lose weight through various diets or exercise regimes can have unwanted body fat removed from the buttocks, hips, thighs or tummy at a stroke.

Potential patients are warned that liposuction is not a treatment for obesity, nor will it get rid of cellulite or stretch marks and it is not usually available on the NHS.

But it can lead to a much more favourable body shape – so long as patients don’t pile the pounds back on afterwards.

Preparation may involve injecting the fatty area with medication or using high-frequency vibrations to break up fat cells.

A small cut is then made so that a suction tube attached to a vacuum machine can be inserted in order to suck out the fat.

General anaesthetic is generally required and patients need around two weeks to fully recover and up to six months to see the full benefits become apparent.

Risks include bruising, infection, scarring and numbness.

5. Rhinoplasty - 4,878 (up 17 per cent)

Rhinoplasty is an operation to change the shape of the nose.

Nose size and shape is usually fully developed by the age of 16 but can prove a bugbear for many people.

Reducing size usually involves a surgeon making cuts inside the nostrils to reach the bone and cartilage, which can be removed or repositioned.

If the nostrils are also reduced, this may leave fine scars on each side.

To enlarge or add bulk to a nose could require a graft of bone from your elbow, skull or hip or cartilage taken from your ears or ribs.

Rhinoplasty is usually done under general anaesthetic.

Temporary side-effects can include soreness, swelling, bruising, trouble breathing through your nose, minor nose bleeds and numbness that can last for months.

In rare cases complications such as heavy nose bleeds and damage to the septum – the wall between your nostrils – may occur.

4.Breast Reduction - 5,476 (up 12.5 per cent)

While many women save for years to give their bust a boost, others find large breasts pose problems such as restricting sporting activity or making it difficult to wear fashionable clothes.

Ulrika Jonsson is among those who have splashed out for a breast reduction, in her case after having four children.

The operation involves removing fat, glandular tissue and skin before the breasts are reshaped and nipples repositioned.

Reduction of both breasts takes up to four hours under general anaesthetic, requires one or two nights in hospital and around two to six weeks for full recovery.

Potential complications include unevenly shaped breasts or nipples, loss of sensation in the nipples, scarring and being unable to breastfeed

Women who want a breast reduction usually have to pay privately but NHS surgery may be available if large breasts are causing issues such as backache, neck pain, sweating, rashes or skin infections.

Men can also have breast reduction surgery for ‘moobs’ – with demand up 24 per cent on the previous year.

3. Face/Neck lift - 6,380 (up 13 per cent)

It’s no surprise that another anti-ageing treatment comes in third, with many baby boomers determined to defy the years into retirement.

Face lift surgery involves making the face appear tighter and smoother by getting rid of folds, lines and wrinkles created by the ageing process.

Surgery lifts up the facial skin and tissues and/or the underlying muscle and can take the form of a full face lift or target the lower face or neck.

It’s usually done under general anaesthetic, can take up to six hours and patients need around two weeks to fully recover.

Some patients may find it takes six months or more to see the full benefits but the impact on appearance can then last for up to a decade, according to private healthcare provider Bupa.

Pain, swelling and bruising can last up to a month and scarring may not vanish completely, while potential complications include damage to facial nerves and hair loss around scars

Keeping your weight under control and not smoking will help maintain good results.

2.  Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) - 7,808 (up 14 per cent)

This procedure involves the removal of excess skin or fat from around the eyes to give a more youthful appearance.

It can be done on upper and lower lids. As we age the skin around our eyes loses elasticity and the muscles become looser.

This can lead to loose folds developing on the upper eyelids and deep creases under the lower lids but blepharoplasty can correct this.

However, it cannot remove crow’s feet – wrinkles at the corners of your eyes – or dark bags under the eyes.

The surgery can be performed with general or local anaesthetic and stitches are usually removed three to five days after the operation.

Some patients may experience side-effects such as swelling, bruising and itchy or watery eyes but these should typically go within a week or so.

More serious complications that require further treatment are rare but can include bleeding under the skin, cysts, bacterial infection and damage to the cornea.

1.Breast augmentation – 11,135 (up 13 per cent on 2012):

After falling in 2012 following the scandal over sale of defective implants by French company PIP, breast enlargements bounced back in style in 2013.

This has long been the most popular of all cosmetic procedures in Britain and the latest figures suggest that trend is sure to continue.

Celebrities who have recently confessed to having boob jobs include Victoria Beckham, who said she has since had the operation reversed, and Hollyoaks actress Gemma Merna, who said her enlargement gave her confidence.

The average cost of breast implants is around £4,000 to £5,000.

A surgeon will discuss the exact location of the cuts to be made before operating while the patient is under general anaesthetic.

Implants are placed between the breast tissue and chest muscle or behind the chest muscle.

Temporary side-effects often include hardness, discomfort and swelling in the breasts and bruising and pain that may last a few weeks.

Potential complications include changes in sensitivity in the breast, abnormal scar tissue forming around the implant and infection.

Women considering the procedure should start by speaking to their GP about their medical history and expectations.

With cosmetic surgery growing in popularity, there are some concerns regarding the potential for error during procedures.

A spokesperson from stated:

Cosmetic surgery has become more popular in today’s society and the variety of procedures and treatments available is extremely large and varied. The standard of surgery on offer and techniques used are highly impressive but sometimes procedures can go wrong. The impact on those who have been incorrectly treated can be deep-rooted, damage self-esteem and often lead to further, complex surgery because the original procedure was not undertaken correctly. In those cases, it’s important to get the best advice about the procedure itself and what to do if things do go wrong.”

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