Women turn from exercise and dieting to liposuction

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The desire of every fat person to release the thin one inside them is fuelling a boom in cosmetic surgery.

Women weary of pumping iron or eating hamster food are turning in growing numbers to liposuction, the short cut to a svelte figure in which fat is sucked from the abdomen, bottom, thighs, or under the chin.

Demand for liposuction rose by almost 90 per cent in 2006, according to figures released today by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps). Almost 3,500 women and 500 men chose to have their excess fat hoovered up at a cost of £3,000 to £5,000 each.

The clash between the obesity epidemic and the 21st Century search for bodily perfection is behind the boom, surgeons say.

Douglas McGeorge, the president of Baaps, said: "People don't feel as bad about having cosmetic surgery as they did. The techniques are tried and tested and the results are predictable."

But he warned that liposuction was not a quick fix for the obese.

"It is not desperately difficult; I could teach a four year old to do it. The skill comes in resculpting the body. It is not an alternative to dieting. It works best on someone who is happy with their tummy, say, but has jodhpur thighs which you can reshape."

He added:"If someone is three stone overweight and wants liposuction to deal with the problem, I tell them to go away."

Mr McGeorge, a consultant plastic surgeon at the private Countess of Chester hospital, Cheshire, said the procedure had become more acceptable as average waistlines had expanded. "We live in a society where people carry a pound or two more than they would like and want to do something about it," he said.

The growth in demand is part of an overall beautification frenzy sweeping the globe. In the UK, total cosmetic operations were up 31 per cent last year to almost 29,000, according to Baaps.

The Harley Medical Group, which runs 13 cosmetic surgery clinics nationwide, said the true total was at least three times as high, at 90,000 procedures. The Baaps figures represented operations performed by its 180 consultant plastic surgeon members and were the "tip of the iceberg," it said.

In the US, an estimated $15bn (£7.5bn) a year is spent on cosmetic surgery, with an expanding list of procedures on offer and a new class of "beauty junkie" - young women obsessed with perfecting their bodies who return for repeat operations.

In India, good looks are seen as the ticket to a good job and a vital aid in the search for a partner. Narendra Pandya, a leading surgeon with diploma from the American Board of Plastic Surgery, said more wealthy young Indian men were having surgery to help them find a perfect match.

"If one is handsome or beautiful in India, one doesn't need to look for a job. The job will come to you," he said.

But there are risks. Denise Hendry, the wife of premiership footballer Colin Hendry, won a six-figure compensation payment last November over a botched liposuction operation. She suffered a punctured bowel during the procedure in 2002 which led to blood poisoning and left her in intensive care for two months.

Mrs Hendry said after the settlement that the operation had left her riddled with guilt. "I felt I'd done all this out of vanity and put my family through all that worry. I just wanted a quick fix after having four babies."

Uplift in figures

* Breast augmentations: 6,156, a figure up by 9 per cent on 2005

* Eyelid surgery: 5,065, up 48 per cent

* Liposuction: 3,986, up 90 per cent

* Face/neck lift: 3,281, up 44 per cent

* Breast reduction: 3,219, up 19 per cent

* Abdominoplasty: (tummy tuck) 2,743, up 47 per cent

* Rhinoplasty (nose job): 2,678, up 18 per cent

Source: British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons