Cosmetic surgery


Cosmetic surgery is surgery that is undertaken for the sole purpose of improving a person’s physical appearance. Cosmetic surgery is elective surgery, which means that a person chooses to have it rather than it being essential.

Cosmetic surgery involves changing a person’s bodily features in order to achieve what they perceive to be more desirable. During cosmetic surgery, a number of different bodily features may be changed including:

  • a person’s skin colour,
  • a person's skin texture, and
  • the structure or position of a body part, such as the nose.

Facts about cosmetic surgery

Over recent years, the number of people having cosmetic surgery has increased considerably. For example, in 2008, a total of 34,187 cosmetic procedures were carried out in the UK, compared with 10,700 in 2003 (a 31% increase).

During 2008, women had 91% of all cosmetic surgery procedures. The top five most popular procedures for women were:

  • breast augmentation (enlargement),
  • eyelid surgery,
  • face and neck surgery,
  • tummy tucks, and
  • breast reduction.

For men, in 2008, the five most popular cosmetic procedures were:

  • nose reshaping (rhinoplasty),
  • eyelid surgery,
  • ear pinning,
  • liposuction, and
  • male breast reduction.

Deciding to have cosmetic surgery

Deciding to have cosmetic surgery is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Cosmetic surgery can be an expensive and a time consuming process, and the results are often permanent and cannot be reversed.

Therefore, before deciding to have cosmetic surgery, you need to give the matter much careful thought and consideration. If you do decide to go ahead with surgery, you should be absolutely sure about your reasons for wanting to have it.

If you decide to have cosmetic surgery, it is very important that you make sure that the surgeon and other healthcare professionals who will be carrying out the procedure are fully qualified, and have experience in performing the type of surgery that you are having.

You should discuss the procedure in detail with your surgeon, and ask as many questions as you need to so that you are fully aware of what the procedure involves, how it will be carried out, what the results will be, and whether there will be any after effects.

Non-surgical cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery

Non-surgical cosmetic treatments, such as Botox (injections of botulinium toxin to make lines and wrinkles less obvious) are procedures that change a person’s appearance without using surgery.

Cosmetic surgery is not the same as plastic surgery. Plastic surgery involves repairing damage to a person’s skin and tissue following injury or illness.



Counselling is guided discussion with an independent trained person, to help you find your own answers to a problem or issue.
Last updated: 04 October 2011

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