Doctors have urged closer scrutiny of the personal motivations behind cosmetic surgery, as new figures show the number of people opting for liposuction is at its highest level since 2008.
Figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) showed that 50,122 private treatments were purchased last year - a 17 per cent rise on 2012. More than 90 per cent of these were undertaken by women.
Liposuction - the physical removal of fat from the abdomen, bottom, hips, or elsewhere - showed the most prominent rise across both sexes. There were 3,772 female procedures in 2013 - a rise of 43 per cent; and 554 male operations - up 28 per cent.
They include Nicky Kitchen, from Boston, Lincolnshire, who spent £5,011 on such surgery to her flanks, stomach and abdomen last August after having her first child. "It was a confidence thing. I had a disabled daughter in 2011 and my body did not go back to the shape as I thought it might. I was having difficulty finding time to fit the gym in and care for my daughter on top of work commitments.
"I had some savings put aside and talked to my husband extensively before deciding it was something that I need to do myself.
"I am very pleased with the results and it certainly makes me feel better. I have haven't dropped a dress size, but I have certainly toned up in the areas I wanted to."
Liposuction, which has grown in popularity both in Britain and America in the last decade, requires a general anaesthetic in most cases, involves the surgical removal of fat from under the skin in areas such as the chin and neck, upper arms, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, knees, calves and ankles and, in men, the chest. But campaigners say it is not a substitute for losing weight.
Figures from BAAPS also revealed that the number of breast implants among women was up 13 per cent on 2012. It was followed by eyelid operations (6,921 - up 14 per cent), face and neck lifts (6,016 - up 13 per cent) and breast reduction (4,680 - up 11 per cent).
Rajiv Grover, the president-elect of BAAPS described the figures as "the most impressive rise in demand for cosmetic surgery we have seen since the onset of the recession in 2008". "Patient confidence and also consumer confidence has returned, with Britons choosing to spend on procedures with proven track records such as liposuction, which remains the gold standard for body contouring."
But the figures come amid fears of a "creeping social acceptance" towards plastic surgery. Dr Laurence Buckman, a north London GP and a former chairman of the General Practitioners Committee, urged cosmetic surgeons to carefully evaluate the motivations behind the desire to go under the knife. "Television is saturated with adverts and images that make it easy to believe that if you haven't got a 'perfect appearance', there is someone somewhere that can do something about it," he told The Independent. People have their own idea of what they should look like - and most family doctors spend a long time exploring the motivation behind their desire to go under the knife."
"If you were not happy the way you are, I'd want to know why that was. Usually it is unlikely to do with the fact that you have a blob of fat - but more likely to be indicative of something deeper."
Earlier this year Google Play and iTunes were forced to remove smartphone apps telling young people that liposuction would make them "thin and beautiful".