THE ‘BRIDALPLASTY’ EFFECT – SEEKING SURGERY FOR THE BIG DAY
UK cosmetic surgery clinics have recently reported a rise in enquiries from ladies who have their hearts set on looking their best for their wedding day. This is a rapidly expanding demographic of clientele. One London cosmetic surgery clinic reported a 13 per cent year-on-year rise in bookings for pre-nuptial surgical treatments.
Whilst historically a trip to the local beauty salon for a manicure and facial may have been expected, this forms part of a striking modern trend that includes booking for injectables and non-surgical procedures. In fact, it is believed that in 2012, one in ten brides underwent a course of Botox or fillers prior to the big day.
Some brides are going further with permanent, surgical changes. Many are having surgery that includes a rhinoplasty or ‘nose job’ whilst many others opt to have breast surgery, liposuction or a tummy tuck.
Part of the reason for this rise can be attributed to the contemporary interest in celebrity weddings and the accompanying magazine spreads. Many brides-to-be see A-list weddings as setting the bar extremely high and wish to emulate that level of perfection on their own day. In addition, a number of popular reality television programmes have followed women having pre-nuptial surgery, including one called ‘Bridalplasty’ where women compete for a dream wedding and free plastic surgery.
Of course, part of the bridal preparations includes the bride-to-be trying on the most important dress of her life and so she often enters a period of heightened body-consciousness. There are reports of brides who find the ‘perfect’ dress first of all and then have their body altered to fit, perhaps by having liposuction or going up two cup sizes. Even those who take a less extreme approach will be very conscious that on the day, they will be having pictures taken of them that will last a lifetime.
If a bride has been considering cosmetic surgery for some time, then there is no good reason why she should not go ahead in time for the big day. However, there is a danger that some women are pressurizing themselves with unrealistic expectations and making permanent physical changes to themselves for reasons that centre on just one day, albeit an important one. Like any sensible prospective cosmetic surgery patient, a wise bride will make sure that, just as with her impending marriage, she is making decisions based on sound and lasting reasons.
COUPLES' SURGERY ON THE RISE
The rise in cosmetic surgery in recent years has been discussed at length by industry professionals and regulatory bodies, but there is one area of growth that is taking some by surprise. An increasing number of couples are deciding to have procedures carried out at the same time, taking a ‘his and hers’ approach.
For many years, far more women than men have undergone cosmetic procedures. In 2010, men in the US had more than 750,000 cosmetic procedures, which formed just 8% of the total, but that in itself was an increase of over 88% since 1997. Men are becoming more interested in the idea that they can improve their appearance through cosmetic surgery, just like their wives.
This is not just true of the US. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, or BAAPS, male ‘tummy tucks’, or abdominoplasties are up 15%. Moreover, male plastic surgery in the UK increased by 5.6% in 2011. Perhaps unexpectedly, the proportion of males amongst the cosmetic surgery patients who had one of the 4,298 procedures in 2011 was 10%.
This supports the evidence that suggests a trend for husbands to join their wives in undergoing cosmetic enhancement. As couples grow older together, neither wants to feel ‘left behind’ in the beauty stakes. One couple told ABC News that the husband had undergone a chin tuck whilst his wife had liposuction. They regarded it as a positive, bonding experience.
Shared marital experiences are no bad thing, but couples should ensure that one partner is not just ‘going along for the ride’. The decision to have cosmetic surgery should be an independent, unpressurized one, regardless of what one’s other half is planning. Also, it would of course be unwise for both parties to undergo surgery that entails a long recovery period at the same time. However, every reputable surgeon will assess each patient on a case-by-case basis and not by comparison to a spouse, so this interesting new trend need not adversely affect those who wish to explore their options regarding cosmetic procedures.
AN OVERVIEW OF SAFER LIPOSUCTION
Liposuction has been around for three decades, since the procedure was introduced by French surgeon Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz in 1982. It is a way of ridding clients of unwanted fat from the body and it is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures. In 2010, 3,369 liposuction operations were carried out in the UK by members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), whilst at present 450,000 are carried out every year in the US.
Despite its popularity, many who are considering liposuction have not researched all the aspects necessary to ensure you have a safe and effective procedure. Here are a few points to think about:
1. When would liposuction be the answer?
Surgeons agree that the best candidates for liposuction are patients with areas of fat that are out of proportion to the other nearby areas of the body (such as ‘love handles’) and who have found that these areas are particularly stubborn, not reducing with a healthy diet and exercise. Suitable candidates should have good skin tone and no significant excess skin.
2. What is the best type of liposuction?
All suction-assisted liposuction procedures involve a tube passing over the areas to be treated and a vacuum pump removing the fat. There is now ultrasound and laser technology, which can break down or melt the unwanted fat. However, as with any procedure, patients should not presume that newer procedures are automatically safer and need to consult with their surgeon to discuss which liposuction method best suits their body and requirements.
3. Is liposuction safe?
Only when performed by a fully trained and qualified registered surgeon who will bring to bear medical experience, judgement and best techniques. As an invasive procedure there are a number of potential risks including bleeding, nerve damage and the possibility of infections. As a matter of course one should expect to experience some bruising, swelling and numbness as well as retaining small scars. Due to the physical impact it is vital to consult an experienced surgeon, such as a member of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS (British Association of Plastic Reconstructive Aesthetic Surgeons), who will be thorough in working to minimise the risk of complications.
4. Will the fat go permanently?
This depends on the patient’s lifestyle and behaviour following the procedure. Each of us is born with a set number of fat cells – remove them through liposuction and they are gone forever. However, overeat and the excess calories will still be stored as fat within enlarged remaining cells. In order for the effects of liposuction to last, the patient must not eat more calories than they burn.
5. Can I pre-empt any problems?
BAAPS advise patients not to take aspirin or any anti-inflammatory drugs for a fortnight prior to having liposuction. If they are anaemic, they should take iron before the operation. However, those taking the contraceptive pill may be advised to stop in certain cases. In all instances, patients should refer to their surgeon and abide strictly by their advice, which will be tailored to individual cases.
GOOD SURGEONS CONDEMN BAD ADVERTISING
We welcome the call by BAAPS to curb inadvisable or potentially damaging advertising practices within the cosmetic surgery industry. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has declared that whilst they would ideally like a ban on all advertising relating to cosmetic surgery procedures, they most vehemently wish for a ban on discounted and so-called ‘special offer’ surgery. This includes group deals, money off vouchers and buy-one-get-one-free marketing hooks. We thoroughly support this as a way to improve the safety of cosmetic surgery throughout the UK.
We also concur that all vulnerable people need to be protected from the increasing number of cosmetic surgery advertisements, especially the under 18s. BAAPS feel that advertising to minors, who may be unduly influenced and pressurized, should also be banned. This includes restricting the use of ‘youth’ celebrities and the slogans and imagery that are so effective in targeting teenagers. It should also cover the use of Photoshop editing to promote unrealistic body images and set misguided expectations.
The former President of BAAPS, Fazel Fatah, said of the call to ban such advertising: "What we are talking about is [banning] advertising which encourages this group of people who are at a very tender age to go through a life-changing surgical procedure."
At the start of 2012, a report by MPs stated that advertising relating to cosmetic surgery should have its own set of regulations and asserted that pre-pubescent girls were unduly worrying about their physical appearance. MEP Linda McAvan made a plea for further regulation to the European Parliament, pointing out that: “A ban on advertising cosmetic surgery already exists in Belgium and France.”
In the first move of its kind in the UK, a TV advertisement promoting a slimming surgery procedure was banned from daytime schedules. This move fell in line with the treatment of general slimming ads, which are already banned from children’s programming.
The Department of Health is currently reviewing the regulations surrounding cosmetic surgery and a dozen recommendations have been sent to the Committee of Advertising Practice, which is the industry regulator. Like BAAPS, we hope that a more responsible approach to advertising relating to cosmetic surgery will be the ultimate result.
SIGNIFICANT GROWTH IN COSMETIC SURGERY INDUSTRY
This period of reform for the cosmetic surgery industry is also a time of sustained growth. The whole market, which includes both surgical and non-surgical procedures, has grown significantly. The UK market is set to reach the unprecedented value of £775 million by the end of 2012. That marks a growth in terms of value of more than 9 per cent.
This continues an upwards trend for the cosmetic surgery industry. By the end of last year, the market had grown to £711 million, showing an increase in value of over 10 per cent. The same study, by market researchers Key Note, forecasts that the market will have grown to £840 million by the end of 2013.
So what is the nature of this remarkable growth in the industry? From 2007 to 2011 there was an increase in the number of procedures of approximately 90 per cent. Non-surgical procedures were the highest growing area, featuring 110 per cent growth, with breast surgery being the next most dynamic area, having grown by nearly 57 per cent.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has provided figures relating to the growth in other areas of cosmetic procedures. The most marked area of growth other than breast surgery is in rhinoplasty, or ‘nose jobs’, which has demonstrated an increase of 7.4 per cent in the past year.
Such figures make interesting reading in a period that has had to deal with the fall-out of the PIP breast implant scandal. It would suggest that, perhaps thanks to the prompt response of governing and advisory bodies such as BAAPS, the general public ultimately retains faith in the industry. Or, could the public even be gaining confidence, thanks to the tough approach being taken to review industry practices? Whatever the perception of the industry at this point in time, it is vital, as the number of patients increases, that we continue to promote safer cosmetic surgery and best practice throughout the UK.
DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA ENCOURAGES COSMETIC SURGERY?
The rise of social media and the proliferation of digital file sharing are key features of life in the 21st Century. There have been countless effects from these developments and one which has recently emerged is that people appear to be seeking out cosmetic surgery and other non-invasive procedures as a result.
Now that a staggering 1 billion people use Facebook each month, in other words one person in every seven on the planet, it is rare to come across someone who has not got a cache of images of themselves somewhere online. Most people we know will have experienced having been ‘tagged’ in a photo, which means having had an image of themselves put online by someone else, regardless of how flattering or otherwise they perceive it to be.
Such modern phenomena, the increased sharing of photos as well as Skyping and FaceTime, plus the democratisation of taking photos with mobiles has apparently got us, quite literally, looking at ourselves more closely. However, research shows that clearly not everyone likes their close-ups.
Surgeons have reported a rise in the number of people who have turned to them for a facelift, or work on their nose and eyes, citing that they don’t like their online appearance. Whilst a mirror may seem unforgiving, a digital image can capture every angle and threaten to be ‘out there’ forever. This seems to be the focus of image conscious social media users.
As one US surgeon put it: “When you look in the mirror you’re seeing the mirror image of yourself. But when you see yourself on social media, you’re seeing yourself the way the world sees you.”
Another contributing factor is the fact that through Facebook and LinkedIn, we may be in touch with old friends and acquaintances who last saw us in person with a face twenty years younger. This is actively prompting greater numbers of people to consult their cosmetic surgeons.
It is important to be aware of the prompts for people to consider cosmetic surgery, in order to ensure that those seeking it are basing their decisions on valid reasons. Whether an unflattering film clip has made someone ask about a nose job, or a virtual school reunion has given rise to thoughts of liposuction, every reputable, qualified surgeon will always ensure that a decision is a considered, reasonable and final one, prior to moving forward. Make sure your surgeon is a member of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS, such as the members of SaferCosmeticSurgery.
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