The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has released its figures for the number of cosmetic surgery procedures carried out on Brits during 2012.
According to the report, demand for ‘anti-ageing’ procedures ‘soared’ in the past 12 months and all such procedures saw a ‘double-digit rise’. These included face lifts (up 14%), brow lifts (up 17%), eyelid surgery (up 13%), and fat transfer (up 13%).
The figures demonstrate, once again, that many of us are prepared to undergo surgical procedures to look younger, or to ‘rejuvenate’ our appearance as the new discourse goes*. Does this mean that our fear of looking old is not abating? That our anxieties about an aged appearance are worsening? Or is it something to do with the acceptability, and availability, of these procedures in our society? I think the increase can be explained by all of these factors and more.
Scientific advancement has a part to play as well. Here’s what Rajiv Grover, the President of the BAAPS, had to say:
“Interestingly, for the first time we see a greater number of women having procedures to re-insert fat (known as fat transfer, to add volume to the face) than to remove it, in the form of liposuction. The growing appreciation that facial ageing is more than just about the effects of gravity, combined with scientific advances [on] the rejuvenating qualities of stem cells contained within fat, help explain this trend.”
And so the medicalisation of beauty continues to move in the direction of science, where procedures developed to treat chronic illnesses are no longer reserved solely for that use.
Cosmetic surgery is just one form of body modification; there are many others. And an upcoming conference in the beautiful city of York, UK, is dedicated to exploring the topic in relation to women’s bodies. I look forward to hearing more about it.
* The word ‘rejuvenate’ is currently in vogue and is being used to describe a range of cosmetic surgery procedures (e.g. vaginal rejuvenation). When it is used instead of ‘anti-ageing’ it avoids the tension that arises when people opt for surgery to look younger but not to counter age.