Economic slowdown or not, for some there's always the money for self-improvement. While some 60 per cent of US plastic surgeons may be complaining of a slowdown, their British counterparts are confident that the pink pound will see them through the recession – as new research reveals that nearly a quarter of gay men in Britain have gone under the knife.
The survey found that 69 per cent of gay men would like to have cosmetic surgery, with 22 per cent confessing that they have already succumbed to the surgeon's scalpel.
"Around a third of our male clients are gay. The vast majority are very well groomed with spare money to spend," said Shami Thomas, a spokesperson for Transform, one of the UK's leading cosmetic surgery clinics.
The findings of the poll, conducted by two gay lifestyle websites which asked more than 1,000 men for their views on cosmetic surgery, reflect an upsurge in plastic surgery among British men of all sexual orientations.
Figures from the UK's largest cosmetic surgery provider, the Harley Medical Group, show a 20 per cent increase in the number of male patients over the past five years, with requests for nose jobs, male breast reduction and tummy tucks all rising.
"Initially, men started coming in for nose jobs to correct sporting injuries, but the number of men coming in for liposuction and breast reduction has increased at an incredible rate over the last five years," said Liz Dale, director of the group.
"We are still seeing high demand for many of our non-surgical treatments among men, particularly in our City clinic. City boys are using Botox and 'fillers' to help them keep looking young – especially important if they're going for interviews."
Some have attributed the popularity of cosmetic surgery among gay men to the fact that there is perceived to be a greater emphasis on physical appearance within the gay community, and that homosexual men are thought to earn more than their heterosexual counterparts.
"With the average gay man earning £5,203 more than the national average [taking home, on average, £31,099 a year], gay men have a higher disposable income and, as a result, the pink pound is doing well," said Patrick Preston, of Millivres, the company behind Gay Times that commissioned the research.
While the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery among the UK gay community may have plastic surgeons rubbing their hands together with glee, some see this as preying on the vulnerable. "A lot of gay men have experienced bullying and negativity when they were growing up, and that is inevitably going to undermine their confidence. Some gay men like to 'power dress' to counteract this. Others turn to surgery, as looking good suggests success," said Joe Heaney, deputy editor of Gay Times.
"I think it creates a dangerous stereotype – the more men who do it, the more it becomes the default. It will perpetuate the idea that only a certain look is attractive."