Health: The bottom line: is surgery worth it?

Research shows that our bottoms are getting bigger. Surgery is a radical option, but is it ever the best solution?

Does my bum look big in this?" This must be the most frequently asked question after a close encounter in a brightly lit, cellulite-unfriendly changing-room. And the bad news is, our bottoms are getting bigger. Latest research says hip measurements are on average 1.5in more than 50 years ago.

Having a derriere that's heading south can be a major source of paranoia, as chronicled in Arabella Weir's book, Does My Bum Look Big in This? (Coronet pounds 5.99). The fictitious diary peddles the idea that life would be perfect with a small bum - and, frankly, many of us believe that to be true.

Body insecurity has prompted a boom in cosmetic surgery. The UK industry alone is now estimated to be worth pounds 180m and is expected to rise to pounds 200m by 2001. No longer the domain of the aspiring starlet, surgery is now more girl-next-door, as an increasing number of people opt for a quick nip and tuck to transform their looks.

However, the pursuit of the perfect posterior can end in tears. Thirty- eight-year-old Anne Evans, a personal assistant from west London, paid pounds 2,500 to have her bottom lifted. She decided to try liposuction, which is now the most common form of cosmetic surgery. A tube is inserted through a small incision in the skin and fat is sucked out, taking out chunks of flab (but, sadly, leaving any cellulite behind).

Anne Evans, who is a size 10, explains: "I've always been self-conscious about my bum because it was big and saggy. At work, girls would talk about low-slung bottoms (LSBs) and I'd think `that's what mine is like'. I've been constantly obsessed with looking at women's bottoms and comparing them to mine. I wanted to be able to wear a pair of jeans without having to have a jumper wrapped round my waist the whole time to cover my bum."

In June this year she checked herself in to the Transform Medical Group, a private clinic in central London. "My surgeon convinced me I could get the bum I wanted," she recalls. "But after the operation, I woke up from a general anaesthetic and the surgeon wasn't around. That night, at home, I didn't sleep. I was in a terrible state. My bottom looked completely flat, worse than before. In a panic, I called the emergency number at the clinic and left a message. No one called me back. So I had to call again. My bum had in fact dropped even more. I now had a flat, low-slung bum with no shape, or certainly not the shape I wanted."

Ms Evans went back to see the surgeon. "I was completely shocked by his behaviour - he was very angry and defensive and said, `you can't possible tell a week after surgery'. I was so upset, I almost passed out. I felt so vulnerable... I felt he was attacking me."

Six weeks later, she returned. "He said `it looks good to me, there is already an improvement', but it was still no better. I pulled out my `before' and `after' photographs - the sight of them made me cry. He just said `you can't tell from photographs, they're taken at different angles'. He also said it would plump out, but I don't see how it is going to suddenly spring into shape.'

Ms Evans is still not happy with the shape of her bottom. "This has been a disastrous job on my bum and I won't give up until it is put right," she says. "I should have listened to my friends, who said `you're mad, you've got a nice figure'. I would have been a lot better off."

David Cooper, managing director of the Transform Medical Group, said: "I can't comment on individual cases - a huge proportion of our business comes from satisfied patients who have been with us a long time. We are keen to demonstrate just how committed we are to patients' treatment. I can undertake to ensure that she will be entirely satisfied with her treatment, and would not rule out corrective surgery or a refund. We have been around for 25 years and are concerned that all work carried out should be to a high standard. We have a national complaints system for such matters."

Although the idea of having a nice, pert bum is appealing, the results of liposuction or a bum lift - which involves snipping the skin and tightening it over the buttocks - are often not very successful. Professor David Sharpe, a plastic surgeon at The Yorkshire Clinic, a private hospital, near Bradford, says: "The majority of plastic surgeons won't do it, but there are people who are happy to take your money - promising things they can't achieve."

"It is very difficult to try to lift the skin in the buttock area - you end up with unattractive scars. For liposuction to work, the skin has to shrink, but the attachment of the skin and fat in that area makes it a very hard procedure to do effectively. If you remove fat cells, the skin just drops. I generally try to put people off. Really, the best thing you can do if your bum is too big is to slim."

Not all cosmetic surgery is a success, or should be done at all, warns Michael Barratt, of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons: "Some of our surgeons spend a considerable amount of time repairing bad jobs done by cowboy clinics. Even something as simple as a nose job can change your personality, and you need to be warned about the risks."

Natural Alternatives to the Knife

Exercise:

For a natural bum lift, try cycling, swimming, the Stairmaster and step aerobics. You won't see instant results, but if you exercise regularly over time, your behind will begin to tone up and look more raised. It will get flabby again if you stop.

Skin creams:

Try Clarins' Body Lift 2000 (pounds 25 per 200ml) which is supposed to reduce thickness of the fat tissues and "lift" the skin if rubbed in daily for a month. You could also check out Clarins' Body Shaping Cream (pounds 28 per 200ml) and Body Firming Cream (pounds 28 per 200ml). The makers recommend shaping cream to tackle "a big fat bottom" and firming cream for "a saggy bottom".

Knickers:

The lazy way out is to pull on some bottom-enhancing drawers. Charnos has launched an improved version of Shapers briefs with the "bottom lift" feature (pounds 12; for stockists call 01159 322191). Or wait for the Aristoc Bodytoner knickers, which will be launched next year, with hidden buttock slimming panels.

When only surgery will do:

For further information on cosmetic procedures, and a list of surgeons who are members, send a SAE to: British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) at the Royal College of Surgeons, 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PN. Website: www.baaps.org.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world