Cosmetic Surgery Information Guide


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Cosmetic surgery, in the most basic sense, is any one of a number of surgical procedures designed to improve the aesthetic appearance of an individual’s face or body.  It is intended to correct features of a person’s body that they are unhappy with, that have been damaged in some way, or are not conventionally beautiful or ‘aesthetically pleasing’.  It can, with the right attitude, preparation and experienced surgeon, give an individual a fantastic boost in their self-esteem, and in many cases can be used to great effect to repair damage to the face or body after minor accidents, illness or simply to reduce the effects of the natural ageing process.  

Cosmetic Surgical Procedures

There are quite a bewildering array of options available when considering cosmetic surgical procedures, including (but by no means limited to):

And much, much more.  In addition to these there are a wide range of alternative or complimentary procedures, including dermal fillers, dermabrasion, chemical peels, detoxification programmes, and more.

Use the navigation on the left hand side to read detailed guides to various procedures.

Modern Society & Cosmetic Surgery

Since the 1980’s, there has been a steady growth in the number of ordinary people seeking various cosmetic surgical procedures.  It is nothing new in the human psyche to wish to improve physical and facial appearance, but the rapid progression of such technologies has allowed for an explosion in the provision of fast, competitively priced cosmetic surgery.  This, coupled with an increasingly youth-focused, beauty-obsessed society has led to women – and men – turning to surgical procedures in lieu of, (or, sometimes, in addition to) making lifestyle changes to achieve better skin and a sleeker silhouette.  The degree of pressure exerted by society on our conceptions of ourselves should not be underestimated.  For this reason, it is particularly important to be realistic in your expectations of your desired cosmetic surgery.

Reasons for Cosmetic Surgery

People undergo cosmetic surgery for a variety of reasons.  These can include:

  • Repairing damage to the appearance caused by minor injuries
  • Low self esteem
  • To correct minor physical flaws
  • Negative body image
  • A ‘treat’ for themselves
  • To provide damage limitation or reverse the ageing process

These are by no means exhaustive reasons for seeking cosmetic surgery, but in every instance, it is vital that the individual seeks good medical advice and has a realistic expectation of what their surgery will achieve. 

Popularity of Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is going from strength to strength, not only in the UK but across the globe.  There are ever-increasing special offers and package deals for ‘surgical tourism’, whereby individuals can fly to a warm destination and combine a cut-price cosmetic surgical procedure with a holiday.  Although obviously enticing, such deals need to be very carefully researched as they are obviously potentially high-risk.  In the UK itself, as well as long-established practices, the increased demand for such procedures has led to an explosion of competitive companies.  It is vital to ensure that any surgeon you consider is thoroughly vetted to ensure they are reputable and qualified.

Who performs Cosmetic Surgical Procedures

Any surgeon performing cosmetic surgical procedures should be fully registered on the National Register of Plastic Surgeons.  They should be able to provide full evidence of their credentials, as well as (ideally) affiliated to a recognised accredited group, such as BAAPS or BAPRAS. It is also always best to ensure your potential surgeon has a proven track record of success in the specific field of surgery you are seeking.

The Cost of Cosmetic Surgery

The cost of cosmetic surgery will differ vastly according to what procedure you desire, where you have it done, if you qualify for a loan or staggered payment plan, and much more.  Generally speaking, even for relatively minor procedures you can expect to spend at least several hundred pounds, and up to several thousand for more comprehensive surgery, so it is worth considering your funding options well in advance. 

The Difference between Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery

The dividing line between ‘cosmetic’ and ‘plastic’ surgery is a somewhat blurred one, but a basic definition of their characteristics might be summed up as follows.

‘Cosmetic surgery’ is generally carried out for mostly, or purely, aesthetic effect.  It is occasionally a beneficial side effect of a medical procedure, but largely it will be performed for cosmetic reasons only.

‘Plastic surgery’, however, although often used to describe what is actually cosmetic surgery, tends to relate to practices of reconstructive surgery following accidents or illness – think of burns or car-crash survivors, or women undergoing breast-reconstruction after a mastectomy.

A brief history of Cosmetic Surgery

There are records of surgical procedures being carried out in ancient Rome, in India, and across swathes of the ancient world.  Although techniques would have been comparatively crude, and the risk of infection substantial, men and women throughout the ages have sought to improve their looks through often brutal and extreme means.  Although not ‘surgical’ procedures, the use of constrictive corsetry and the practice of foot-binding are just two examples of the pursuit of a construct of beauty being achieved through actively maiming or distorting the body.  It could perhaps be argued that various tribal practices of piercing and body mutilation constitute a form of cosmetic surgery.  However you look at it, such acts have a long and established history throughout the societies and cultures of the world.  All that happened with the advent of ‘modern’ cosmetic surgery (arguably established in conjunction with the advances made in reconstructive plastic surgery around the time of the First World War) is applying modern technology to the age-old pursuit of perfection.

Select a cosmetic procedure from the left, to read an independent comprehensive guide.


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