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Is Plastic Surgery Becoming More Common in The UK?


Plastic surgery is often associated with celebrities and the super rich. However, in more recent years, it has become more common amongst the British Public. Although the UK doesn’t rank in the Top 5 amongst countries for plastic surgeries per capita, there has been a noticeable spike in the amount of surgeries performed.

As plastic surgery becomes more affordable, with major UK cities often having multiple cosmetic surgery clinics, a rise in the amount of Britons going under the knife has been predicted to rise massively. In a recent survey, a third of British people have admitted to either having or considering facial cosmetic surgery such as cheek enhancement or face lifts. 

In the past couple of years however, there has been a slight decline. In 2021, 15,000 cosmetic procedures were conducted in the UK. When compared to the number of 56,000 procedures in 2016, it seems like there has been a decline somewhat. However, other parts of the industry have grown massively. The BAAPS has recently released a statement that the number of patients being treated for severe complications following cosmetic surgery abroad has increased by 44% between 2020 and 2021. Staggeringly, most of these complications originated from plastic surgery performed on Britons in Turkey. 

It is clear to see that there is a somewhat increase in the amount of British people considering plastic surgery in recent years. 


But why are more people considering plastic surgery? 

In a recent survey, younger people have highlighted three main reasons why they have considered plastic surgery.

Peer Pressure

45% of Gen-Z participants have stated that they have considered getting cosmetic surgery due to suggestions from their peers, or by knowing people that have gone under the knife themselves.

Social Media Influencers

45% of young participants suggested that looking at social media influencers, who are more likely to have had plastic surgery has prompted them to consider plastic surgery themselves. 

Snapchat Filters

Imaging filters on social media are known to change the face, sometimes to look more smooth or ‘airbrushed.’ 41% of young participants agreed that these filters have made them more likely to consider plastic surgery.  

However, older people had slightly different reasons for going under the knife. The most common reason was for helping to reduce the signs of having children out other reasons include:


Two in five of over-65 year olds admitted that they had considered plastic surgery to fix old injuries, such as rhinoplasty to fix a deviated septum caused by playing rugby.  


One third of the older participants had thought about getting plastic surgery due to getting bullied for their appearance. 


What are the most popular procedures being conducted in the UK? 

For women in 2021, the most common procedure was for breast augmentations. For men, the most common cosmetic surgery was rhinoplasty. Overall however, women make up 93% of the client base for UK plastic surgery.

Analysis of the searches has revealed that these are the most searched for procedures. In 2019, the most searched for procedure was hair transplantation, with a whopping 27,100 searches. Interestingly, this could suggest that more men searched for plastic surgery that year than women did. The next most searched for procedures were liposuction with 27,000 searches and breast reductions with 22,200 searches.

The statistics for 2022 haven’t been published in full yet, however many people have theorised that the industry will boom in the years to come. This is due to something called the ‘lockdown effect.’ In the year following the end of lockdown, plastic surgeons around the world have reported a boom in the amount of enquiries for plastic surgery. Staggeringly, during the lockdown, the BAAPS has reported that its doctors were reporting up to a 70% increase in requests for virtual consultations during the quarantine. That is a staggering number of people that considered plastic surgery during the lockdown.

Many doctors have attributed this to a phenomenon called ‘perceptual distortion,’ which occurs when we perceive a flaw and focus on it to the point where we cannot think of anything else. Many studies have linked this rise in body dysmorphia and low self esteem with the amount of selfie taking and social media. Paired with the ‘pressure cooker’ of quarantine, where there were less day to day distractions from social media, doctors have theorised that this has culminated in a higher interest in cosmetic procedures. 


What are the effects of plastic surgery?

Many people view plastic surgery to be a magic spell that will solve all of their problems, and others consider it to be the root cause of mental health issues. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Modern plastic surgery was invented shortly after the First World War to help people that struggled with injuries from battle.  This was massively helpful in regards to rebuilding their life after coming home, especially because at the time people with war injuries were shunned. However, there can be negative aspects which have to be taken into consideration. 


1) Cosmetic surgery can improve injuries or ‘flaws’ in appearance which could result in a happier mood overall.

2) Making changes in appearance might result in more confidence from the person as they have made a change in their life. Some people only need to have a minor cosmetic change to ‘jumpstart’ a more positive image of themselves and contribute massively to their confidence. The surgery is only a minor part of the transformation though, with the actual concept of change being more important than the effects of the surgery itself. 

3) Cosmetic surgery could help people feel less inferior due to their appearance or heal emotional wounds stemming from appearance based bullying. Although it is a very ‘surface level’ fix, many people who undergo cosmetic surgery feel much better as a result. 



1) Cosmetic surgery can sometimes actually reduce confidence as they feel as if their new changes have resulted in a ‘fake’ version of themselves. They can feel as if they have changed their body to not be what ‘nature’ intended them to be, and can cause them to feel less in-tune with their own bodies. Some even wonder whether people would like them if they knew them before they had any work done. 

2) Cosmetic surgery can be very surface-level, and often doesn’t deal with the root cause of the issue, like body dysmorphia or low self esteem. Some people feel even more lost after surgery.

3) There can be major health risks to going under the knife. Blood clots, bleeding, infection and scarring can be major risks when getting plastic surgery. 

To summarise, it is highly likely that the numbers of people getting plastic surgery in the UK will rise in the next few years. If you’re considering getting plastic surgery in Manchester, or anywhere else in the UK, make sure you research the plastic surgeon you’re thinking of contacting. Furthermore, make sure that you have prepared for both the build-up to your surgery and after your surgery.