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

Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there