By Adi Bloom
Some might refer to it as an enhancement. Others augmentation. Many simply think of it as an enlargement.
But, whatever one calls it, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people in the UK turning to cosmetic surgery in order to improve their appearance.
A total of 50,122 cosmetic operations were carried out in 2013, an increase of 17 per cent since 2012. This is a level of growth unseen since the pre-recession days of 2008.
Figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reveal that women continue to pay for larger breasts, despite potential risks to their health. And demand for liposuction has risen significantly, with a 41 per cent increase in procedures carried out. (Inevitably, this has resulted in claims that the figures reflect a rise in obesity levels. But having liposuction does not prove that people are fat; it only proves that people think they are fat.)
Among both women and men, there was also high demand for anti-ageing procedures: eyelid surgery and face and neck lifts were up 14 and 13 per cent, respectively.
Nose jobs were the most popular operation among men. But the number of male breast-reduction operations has increased 24 per cent since 2012. This perhaps reflects men’s self-consciousness about their “moobs”, which have been the target of ample humour in recent years.
However, the market for cosmetic surgery remains largely female. More than 90 per cent of the cosmetic surgeries carried out in 2013 were on women. The most popular operation among women was breast augmentation, which increased 13 per cent since the previous year.
This procedure is not without controversy. In January 2012, the founder of the French company Poly Implant Prothèse was arrested as news broke that the company was making breast implants filled with industrial, rather than medical-grade, silicone. Around 300,000 faulty implants were sold, and 40,000 women in the UK received them. The UK government said that it would pay for the removal and replacement of these implants on the National Health Service.
But Rajiv Grover, president of BAAPS, believes that consumer confidence in cosmetic surgery is now restored. “Whether it is breast augmentation or anti-ageing procedures, the public are choosing tried and tested surgical methods, rather than the magical-sounding quick fixes that fail to deliver promised results,” he said.
Sally Taber, director of Independent Healthcare Advisory Services, points out that there has also been an increase in the number of complaints from patients who underwent cosmetic surgery.
She suggests that BAAPS might perhaps be focusing undue attention on figures. “It is important to measure patient-satisfaction rates as well as numbers of operations carried out,” she said
Questions for your class:
- What do we mean by ‘body image’?
- How does the media affect people’s relationship with their own bodies? Do you think it will ever change?
- In your opinion, is cosmetic surgery a positive or a negative thing? Explain your answers.
- How can we work together to promote body positivity in our community?
Resources from TES Connect:
How we look
This excellent resource pack from the Wellcome Trust
includes a wealth of information about bodies and body image.
Body Image lesson
Explore the links between self-esteem and the media with this simple but thought-provoking lesson plan.
Full lesson on body image
This lesson contains all of the materials you will need to have a mature and frank discussion with your students.