Fear Not: Brits express little concern over fad surgery trends becoming dated

Why are Brits avoiding fashionable cosmetic surgery procedures?

Aesthetic surgery procedures have been popular for several years and, in 2015, the total number of procedures performed in the UK reached a peak of over 51,000.

This increase in demand for cosmetic surgery coincides with a rise in social media which has made the procedures more mainstream. Added to this is the popularity of television shows such as Love Island which lead to more women wanting to achieve a toned torso through procedures such as liposuction.

Despite this, research from Mintel suggests that only 10% of UK adults have actually undergone any cosmetic surgery but 37% of women and nearly a quarter of men said they would consider cosmetic surgery.

With so many people expressing a desire to go under the knife, why are the figures for those who have undergone surgery so low?

A recent survey by non-invasive body sculpting specialist SculpSure shows that a fear of surgery looking unnatural was the primary reason for avoiding cosmetic procedures. With most procedures being extreme and often irreversible, physical alterations that require invasive forms of surgery, this is no surprise.

With exposure to surgical horror stories, surgery addiction and unnatural looking treatments now commonplace on social media and television, it’s no wonder so many Brits are now avoiding surgery. Recent figures show that just 28,000 procedures were performed in the UK during 2018, a huge reduction in just three years.

So, why are so many Brits avoiding cosmetic surgery procedures?

Unnatural-looking result

With so many pictures and stories of celebrities who have gone too far with cosmetic surgery or stories about botched surgery jobs means that many people are now thinking twice before investing in any procedures. In fact, 31% of survey respondents said they would be put off by cosmetic surgery looking unnatural.

When it comes to surgical enhancement, the pursuit of perfection leads to many people taking it one step too far. Many women undergo breast augmentation to ‘upgrade’ to a size that could look unnatural on their frame. On paper, a voluptuous D cup isn’t a huge jump from a more natural C cup, in reality, the effect can appear unbalanced and ‘fake’ if it doesn’t suit a patient’s frame.

Botched surgery

Experiencing a botched cosmetic surgery procedure concerned almost a third (30%) of survey respondents. This isn’t surprising considering the number of celebrities with botched procedures who are featured on social media. Horror stories about these procedures are not solely limited to social media. Primetime TV shows such as ‘Botched’ highlight how dangerous surgery can be.

Future regrets

Fashions and trends are always changing and beauty ideals are no different. Many people undergo a cosmetic procedure because they’re aspiring to particular beauty ideals. The most current trend is girls having lip filler to achieve fuller lips.

A recent and more extreme trend is for ‘bum lifts’, where surgical implants are inserted into the buttocks to achieve a much fuller posterior. These beauty trends change so frequently that fashionable trends right now are unlikely to be so in as little as a year’s time, leaving many people stuck with the irreversible changes.

Fiona Comport, marketing communications manager at SculpSure, said: “Current beauty trends are erring on the unnatural, with even hair, eyebrows and nails being ‘supersized’. At worst, these reversible treatments could be viewed as fashion mistakes in years to come. However, permanent surgical procedures such as buttock lifts and lip fillers could quickly become a major regret once this look goes out of style, particularly as further surgery would be required to reverse the effect.”

Addiction to surgery

Undergoing one surgical procedure may be enough for most people but many who have one procedure may then feel that something else needs changing. This results in more and more refinements to other areas of the face and body, leading to them becoming addicted.

Dermal fillers and Botox, in particular, can result in addiction as people get used to their new voluminous and smooth features and want more and more to maintain a pronounced effect.

Addiction is particularly prominent for people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) who perceive themselves differently to how others see them and continuously find flaws with their physical appearance. For these people, no amount of cosmetic surgery will satisfy them and can be damaging to both physical and mental health.

This is fuelled by social media, magazine covers and TV programmes which continuously bombard us with images of ‘body perfection’. High profile celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Iggy Azalea who have all had numerous cosmetic surgery procedures are providing more exposure to this look and prompting more women to go under the knife.

The pain of surgery and recovery period

There’s no doubt that invasive surgery is likely to come with a degree of pain and recovery time can be a huge factor for people considering cosmetic surgery. And, the more extensive the surgery is, the more painful it is likely to be and the longer the recovery. The pain and recovery time is enough to put people off with the most painful procedure said to be liposuction with bruising and severe discomfort being immediate side effects.

Depending on the type of surgery, recovery time can be anywhere from one to three weeks and this is just for time off work – the total healing time can be much longer. Keeping wounds meticulously cleaned, dressed and cared for is essential to prevent infections or serious complications.

Are there alternatives to surgery?

For someone who feels uncomfortable in their body and skin, no amount of body positivity quotes or support from family or friends will make a difference. They may feel that a cosmetic procedure is the only way to improve their self-esteem but there are alternatives with similar, less permanent results.

Non-invasive treatments

Non-invasive body contouring treatments such as Sculpsure are a great way to gain the same results as surgery without the risks, pain or downtime.

SculpSure uses laser technology to destroy fat cells around the stomach, love handles, back and thighs without affecting the skin’s surface, permanently removing fat cells. This is a great alternative to liposuction or a tummy tuck.

Fiona Comport added, “Non-invasive procedures such as Sculpsure are much safer options for those wanting to improve their body shape. This type of treatment produces a smoother, more refined silhouette, as opposed to an unnatural, fashionable end result which is likely to date over time.”


Wearing shapewear under clothes is a great way to achieve a more streamlined body shape. From perkier boobs to a smaller waist or bigger bum, all of this can be achieved with the right clothing.

Rather than risk a possibly deadly procedure, shapewear can help to achieve a range of effects. For example, bum lifting shapewear will create a perky, firmer result, whereas others contain padding to make your behind look larger and fuller.

Investing in a good push-up bra is a good alternative to breast enlargement surgery. If the sizing is right and the padding isn’t too much – or too little – push up bras can create a natural-looking lift and even give the appearance of an increased cup size. For the appearance of a boob reduction, minimising bras can comfortably compress the chest and take inches off the bust.

Makeup; contouring, highlighting and shaping

For a less permanent solution, using the right makeup products and techniques can completely change and refine your face shape. Using makeup to contour, highlight or shape parts of your face is a pain-free solution.

Using makeup to apply shade to certain areas can change the appearance of your face. You can make your nose appear smaller and achieve a similar result to rhinoplasty with a cool-toned contour powder or cream. Contouring can also help the jawline seem sharper and less round, reducing the appearance of a double chin and reducing the need for Botox or filler.

Highlighting goes hand in hand with contouring and using the techniques together on your cheekbones can make your face look slimmer and define your features, achieving a similar look to cheek implants or filler.

Lip shaping

Using the right lip products can be a great alternative to lip filler. Over lining your lips can alter their shape or make them look bigger. Applying a lighter shade in the centre of your lips will help to make them look plumper. Many makeup brands sell lip-plumping glosses, which work by using mild irritants such as cinnamon or menthol in their ingredients. Once applied to the lips, irritation causes blood to rush to the surface of the skin, resulting in a temporary plumping. Again, working as an effective alternative to surgical lip fillers.

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